The Benefits of Travel

Last month I attended the Mindshop UK Conference in London.
The conference was for 2 days, but given that I needed some “me-time” and that I hadn’t been overseas for a while I decided to take a few days either side and specifically spend most of my time in places that I hadn’t been to before and see some things that I hadn’t seen before.
You’ll find a more detailed post on the specifics of the trip in a separate upcoming post.
I chose to travel alone because it suited my mood – it allows you to be self-indulgent and to wing-it. Make spur of the moment decisions about where you will go and where you will stay. Go with the flow. This mode of travel is not as easy if you have the family in tow. (I wouldn’t have been popular booking that night’s accommodation online with my laptop on my knee in St Pancras station at 9 PM if I had my wife and 3 young children with me !)

I’ve been reading a few of Paul Theroux’s books recently and I share his sentiment that it’s not just about the destination – the journey is also important.
I also agree with him that modes of travel other than air can be fun – I too like rail travel – and sometimes it is the seemingly simple, mundane things that delight, rather than the blockbuster tourist sites.

Some recent research by Cornell University Psychologist Thomas Gilovich suggests that a holiday gives more enduring happiness than a purchase.
This seems to be partly because holiday memories don’t deteriorate with age (in fact the memories get rosier) and also because the experiences are so personal and we are less likely to feel inferior about an “experience” than an “asset”. It is easier to have car or flat screen TV envy than holiday envy.

You will hear more about this sort of thinking as we progress through this period of austerity.

Research also suggests that:

* It’s not the length of the holiday but what we do with it.
* It’s not how relaxing it was but more how intense the experiences were.
* An interruption – e.g. a day or two of work in the middle of the holiday may make the experience better.
* The end of the holiday is important – leave a good bit for last.
* Savour the anticipation of the holiday – it’s a key part of the overall enjoyment.
* Keep some memory triggers – e.g. photos, journals to enable you to revisit the experience in years to come.

Apart from anything else I felt that my sub-conscious was triggered to go to work. The answers to some issues that I had been struggling to resolve could be worked through. The pathway forward was very clear.

One Response to The Benefits of Travel

  1. Rod Wallbridge October 4, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    G’day Andrew!

    Yes, a holiday is a good thing and should be mandated for all people working. As an audit technique, I always look up the holiday entitlements and anyone who hasn’t taken a holiday in over about 18 months earns an extra hard look at the work that they do.

    It’s not just because of the risk that they may have defalcated and don’t want anyone to take over the work and perhaps find the fiddle whilst they are on holidays, but because the human mind will not continue to work well without relief and mistakes will be made.

    As you discovered, removal from the mundane, the spur of new stimuli and doing different things differently will free up a swag of blocked neurones and refresh the brain power.

    I’m working on taking a family holiday to UK / Europe in 2012 to be at Oxford when my Esmerelda gains her degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics. Have to book in advance for that, I imagine!



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