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Research: Traveling not only makes you happy, but also makes you smart

Immersing yourself in other cultures, discovering lonely landscapes and encounters on the way are what make traveling. Researchers have now found that it not only makes us happy, but also smart

Traveling makes you happy - this is not only stated in the relevant proverbs, but also in scientific studies, such as that of the University of Tampere in Finland. According to the results of the study, we recover better on a day on vacation than on a day off at home, which is due, among other things, to the lack of duties such as washing clothes or shopping, but also to the change of scene and the new experiences that come with it . All of this in the overall package makes us happier than free time in general.

Another study in the UK found that family vacation experiences make children happier than toys. Not only the relationship between travel and satisfaction was researched, but also the positive influence a family vacation can have on the psyche of children. The result: travel promotes intelligence! According to this, children with travel experience are more concentrated and better at school, since two important emotional systems of the brain would be activated on a trip. The renowned neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp named these as play and seeking. Based on his research at Washington State University, child psychologist Margot Sunderland explained in a guest article in the English newspaper The Telegraph why parents should invest in a getaway with the children rather than a games console.

Adults also benefit from traveling

But even those who have not traveled through world history from childhood can stimulate their intelligence by traveling at a later point in time. This in turn found out researcher William W. Maddux, professor of organizational management at INSEAD. He examined international students who lived abroad because of their master’s degree and found that they had a high “multicultural engagement” (quick adaptation to new cultures) and at the same time a higher “integrative complexity”. This means the willingness and ability to recognize and understand different perspectives.

Her willingness to quickly become aware of new cultures and to understand their views on things or problems kept them one step ahead of the national students. This was even reflected in the job search at the end of the master’s program examined. The international students got a position faster than those who had stayed in their cultural and social environment. Something similar happens to us when we travel to foreign countries, face the new culture and the experiences that await us far away from our familiar surroundings. These experiences change our worldview and allow us to see problems and tasks with different eyes and to solve them with fresh approaches.

As early as 2009, Maddux and a colleague examined which factors positively influence creativity when solving tasks. Half of the participating students were asked to recall a travel experience and write it down before taking the so-called RAT test - the other half were not. The result: Those who reflected on their travels beforehand solved 50 percent more of the tasks than the other students. "We found that those who said they had adapted to the foreign countries were significantly more creative than those who did not," the study says.