Free Your Mind: How Travel Leads to Innovation


How many pivots have you made for Covid-19? All of us have made significant lifestyle changes and most of us have been forced to innovate at work too. When circumstances are challenging, one thing that can be in short supply is imagination. We find ourselves reacting in predictable ways born out of a desire for safety. We know in our gut there’s probably a solution that will make things better than they were pre-Covid, better than they ever were before, yet our crisis mode mentality won’t let us see it. Unimaginative solutions won’t help us solve today’s complex problems. It’s time to go on a trip!


Travel and the idea of traveling has never been more important than it is now. Those of us who have the resources need to use them to ramp up our imaginations to find new ways of thinking about our lives and our world. Of course, Omicron and the moving target that is Covid-19 has some of us wary about planning travel, yet the scientific community is getting closer every day to helping us actualize a world where Covid-19 is manageable. It’s time to pick a destination, (maybe a remote or domestic one to feel safer), plus a time frame that feels comfortable to you, and make a plan to go.


The world needs you to travel because the world needs your brain to be operating at its highest level. In his book, “Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life”, Dr. Michael Merzenich explains the importance of getting outside our comfort zone and embracing the unfamiliar. According to Merzenich, “People who travel to new places, keep learning languages, and continue to experience new things into old age, are far less likely to develop cognitive decay.”


A more granular explanation of the brain’s response to travel comes from University of Pittsburgh neuroscientist, Paul Nussbaum who notes that traveling generates dendrites. Dendrites are branch-like extensions that transmit information between different parts of the brain. The more ideas and images you have in your brain and the better their ability to connect to each other, the more access you’ll have to truly innovative ideas and solutions.


People who are living in crisis mode have a tendency to think any disruption of their safety-focused routine will cause even more trouble than they’re currently experiencing. Instead, science shows us that we actually need to get out of our routines and safety zones in order to produce novel ideas and solutions.


The thrill that comes from handling foreign money, turning down a street you’ve never been on, or trying to say thank you to a kind restaurant owner in a strange language can’t be replicated by any experience you have every day. Looking out at the open sea on your way to Antarctica, hiding in wait for a Sri Lankan elephant to emerge from the brush, or standing before a vast, glacier-filled Alaskan landscape will not only delight your spirit, it will actually improve the creative functionality of your brain, causing you to offer more innovative solutions to work and life problems than you ever have before. Contact us at Wild Nectar and we’ll help you on your way.