A 2016 study from the University of Geneva found that chimpanzees who travel further on a daily basis showed more innovation and creativity and used a wider variety of tools to acquire food than their more sedentary counterparts. "Our results show that travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees and it may also have been a driving force in early technological evolution by humans," says Dr Thibaud Gruber.
Since we share 99% of our DNA with chimps, it begs the question...
Does travel make humans smarter?
Here are 5 ways that travel does indeed make you smarter (and the data to back it up):
1. Better Work Performance
A 2015 study showed that those who simply looked at a photo of nature for 40 seconds displayed significant boosts in sub-corticol arousal and corticol attention control (compared to those that looked at picture of a bare concrete roof), which led to drastically improved performance on their next task. Imagine the compound effect of what actually traveling to a nature-filled destination would do to the brain.
2. Extended Brain Power
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies recently found that retired people who travel have 75 percent higher rates of mental stimulation, and 82 percent have an increased ability to “get things done,” versus 57 percent of those who don’t travel.
3. Job Success
According to a study conducted by William W. Maddux, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD (an international graduate school of business), individuals who take time to travel and engage with new communities will have a higher number of job offers thanks to their multicultural learnings.
4. Boosted Problem Solving Ability
Another study showed that problem-solving performance increased by 50% after subjects spent four days immersed in nature
5. Expanded Creativity
An Indiana University study separated participants into two groups and told each group to come up with as many modes of transportation for college students either living in Indiana or at a study abroad program in Greece. Participants who performed the task for the students in Greece came up with a third more transportation methods than those performing the task for students in Indiana, and the transportation methods they came up with were significantly more original. Simply mentioning a foreign land made them think more creatively, without so much as leaving the room.
This last one clearly indicates that many of the cognitive and creative benefits we get from travel don’t require physical travel at all. If we can convince the mind, through techniques like priming, that we’re having a multicultural experience, it will act with greater awareness and creativity.
So what do you think? Has travel increased your intelligence or awareness in any meaningful/measurable way? Drop me a line below and let me know.
Again, you don't have to take two weeks off or spend tons of money to reap the benefits of this phenomenon. You could schedule regular walks through a park on your lunch break, spend a weekend in a neighboring city, plan your next international trip...the possibilities are endless - keep going!
PS. I'm inviting YOU to the Location Reveal Party for the DEEPER Retreat 2020 on November 15 at 7pm in York, PA! We went to Iceland in 2018, the Swiss Alps in 2019, and we'll be announcing the location for 2020 at this event. You'll get $100 off the retreat price just by attending, so maybe sure to RSVP here.