There is nothing more enriching than traveling. It makes you know other places and cultures, changes your points of view… and allows you to use it to challenge your brain!
Any trip challenges your brain, because you move outside of your comfort zone. However, you can make your travel a huge challenge for your brain, and make it perform an extra workout. That is what this post is about.
How to convert your trip into a real challenge for your brain
Follow the guidelines below and take the most of your travel (in brain fitness terms):
- Travel to a country that has a very different culture than yours. If you are an American, do not travel to the U.K., Australia, Canada, etc. Try instead China, Japan or Madagascar. Travel to a country that is as different of yours as possible.
- Avoid your usual food. Don’t go to McDonalds, Starbucks, or any other international food company. Also avoid the typical cuisines of the world that exist in all cities of the world (italian, french, spanish, hindu…). Instead eat at the local restaurants the typical dishes (ask for them!).
- Change your resting style. If you are comfortable traveling using hotels, then switch to camping. If you like more camping, then switch to caravan. If you are used to caravans, then share a room at a local’s home. The general rule is to avoid the hotel comfort and use the most uncomfortable options for you.
- Learn as much as possible of the local language. Learning languages is one of the best exercises for the brain and during your travel, you have the best opportunity to exercise it. And if you practiced memory training techniques, then it should be very easy for you to do it.
- Talk to locals and try to meet them for a beer, coffee or even a meal or event. Social interaction stretches your brain very much. It is also a very good opportunity to practice your memorizing names skill.
- Attend a meeting with unknowns. Either go to a University and talk to the teachers or attend a Toastmasters club or look for an interesting MeetUp group. Interaction on a debate environment is one of the greatest challenges for the brain.
- Do not plan everything ahead. Actually, do not plan except for those things that require some action to be taken before going (because there is a booking list, for example). This advice is only for the braves… are you?
- Relax. Do not take the travel so seriously. Do not convert it into a stressful situation. Just relax and learn to accept what happens. Some thing won’t go as you would like, but that is also good because you will experience other situations. If you achieve to relax, your brain will generate a lot of new ideas and projects, based on the new inputs it is receiving. You just have to relax…
I have recently practiced this kind of travel for a trip to New Zealand (I’m based on Barcelona, Spain) with my girlfriend. I cannot tell you how much we were challenged. We even reached our stress limit in some situations. However, as we relaxed and accepted the situation, everything started to flow. Discomforts dissolved (or kind of), like for example, not being able to have a shower every day, or being impossible to clean clothes for a long time, and a flow of ideas and projects started to appear in our minds.
Our life has changed since we did this trip and a lot of new options and paths are now ahead in our lives.
I recommend taking a 2 weeks trip per year under the circumstances pointed above. It will turbo charge your brain, specially if you are older. Getting out of the comfort zone makes your brain create new connections and try to adapt as soon as possible to the current situation (only if you accept it), being this an extreme workout for your brain.
Go ahead, go for a trip and drop me a line about your experience!