I got back from Oman recently (verdict: it’s ok). I’ve travelled a lot, but recently I’ve being weighing the benefits.
I’ve realised the best part about the journey (more so than the destination) is the effect it has on my thinking. New countries provide surprises. Stuff you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. But the mind changes beyond this.
I think because:
We’re less in control of ‘I’ than we think. Going to multiple new counties in succession helped me realise this. Different input = Different output.
You share beliefs with friends. Being around different people provides distance from these ideas, allowing you to reassess them.
Change in routine:
I find this un-automating of decisions leaves the mind scrambling. In the scramble, neurons wire together in interesting ways.
Aside from changing the mind, here are some speculative benefits of changing location:
As we get older, time speeds up. I think because:
1. Each year is a smaller percentage of your life.
2. We have less new memories. Novel memories slow the subjective passage of time.
Location creates stronger memories. More locations means more memories. More memories means slower subjective time.
A slower life is a longer life.
Location creates stronger memories. I find when I recall a fact or insight, I often recall where I came across it. I never recall my house though – this spot is too full of ideas.
Just like the Loci Technique, ideas tethered to a location have a better chance of sticking. More locations mean more mental hooks.
You walk around your block every morning. Two blocks over, the love of your life does the same thing. Unless you change route, you’ll never meet him/her. New locations provide new opportunities. Also new ideas.
Better at change:
Old people are often stuck in their ways. I wonder if it’s just part of getting old, or because they’ve avoided change for so long.
Better to be adaptable. This means practicing change often. New places can force you to do this.
Going overseas exposes you to different cultures. This teaches you about your own. But for everything else I’ve said, you can do this in your hometown.
I like to make travel more like home (maybe another post) and home more like travel.