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How Traveling Makes You Smarter?

How Traveling Makes You Smarter?

I have read some people sharing their thoughts about travel nowadays, and many of them saying that ‘traveling makes you smarter’. I’m not sure if you are thinking the same. But let’s see if you agree with their opinions.

So generally they stated that humans used to be nomads in the past, and that proves our existence as a species. Furthermore, nomadic nature has contributed enormously to the development of our brain. Especially when interacting with new experiences, the brain is even developed in a way that cannot be found if we are surrounded by a limited environment with routine activities.

Compared to the ape that just lives in a certain area, the human is more likely to keep traveling to new lands. Even the chimpanzee, who travels further than the ape, still wanders within 60 square miles of its area.

As written in Alison Gopnik’s ‘The Gardener and the Carpenter‘, every time we travel far, we face new challenges and environments; which explains the connection between our brain and traveling.

So here are some ways of traveling that could make us smarter.

Traveling as Far as You Can

Khoi Nguyen visit Banff Gondola, traveling makes you smarter
The first time in my life that I traveled from Vietnam to Canada, and visited Banff Gondola.

As research conducted by Cornell University on people who spend most of their time at home, at the office, and the people who usually travel far; the group of travelers, as a result, are happier, more open-minded, and have more connection. That could be understandable, as when you travel far, you will escape your daily routine, which could be the reason for your daily sadness and stress. Therefore, traveling makes you smarter, by reducing negative effects on your mind.

When I traveled from Vietnam to Canada, an Asian boy, like me, learned a lot about the varied transporters of the country, also how to communicate with different people and cultures, and especially one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, Banff National Park.

Don’t Go Back to the Old Places

Wandering around Brinchang, Cameron HIghlands in the first time visit
I went to Malaysia several times, but this was my first time visiting Cameron Highlands.

You travel to a lot of places to find the most loved one. Then you love the place, but how about the even newer ones? Absolutely you would find a favorite destination, but are you sure it will be on top of your list lifelong? Why not travel to a new place every time, I’m sure you will be interested in all the new things you face, and you will find traveling makes you smarter!

Familiarity doubtlessly brings you a protected and comfortable feeling. Nevertheless, exploring a new destination could bring you a lot of experience, and happiness. Here is a suggestion, perhaps you would love to try writing down places that you want to go, and making it the goals. Then you can compare the new and the old places when you finish your trip. I’m sure you can see a lot of exciting things as well as new knowledge gained from the new place.

Having Specific Challenges

Have you ever traveled with a specific goal such as learning a new language, or joining a volunteer? Perhaps you want to try it once. Trust me, every time I finish a challenge set before the trip, like cooking local food or learning a few simple local vocabularies, I just feel like a very new me. My whole mind and body are pretty much refreshed and excited for the next journey.

A challenge could be set very specifically depending on your favorite. If you love hiking, you can plan the route at the place that you want to finish. If you love food, you may want to make a checklist of the must-try dishes. For example, in my last time traveling to the capital city of Vietnam, I made a list of Hanoi foods that I would love to try. In my opinion, whether you know how to cook local food, or learn to handcraft a leather wallet, traveling makes you smarter, in terms of hard skills of cooking or craftsmanship, just to illustrate.

Driving a Car or Riding a Motorbike Yourself

Riding motorbike on the road of Ha Giang, Vietnam
Just left Ha Giang City and started our journey with a motorbike.

Obviously, driving a car or riding a motorbike in a new place is one of the best experiences ever. From choosing the route to go, the place to stay, or the food to eat, etc. to having fun over the trip is the most memorable thing in my whole life. Although it’s possible that you could get lost, it may turn out to be a great situation when you can discover a new random spot.

I still remember my journey from North to Central Vietnam back in 2016. At that moment, my friends and I hired motorbikes and rode over the hills of the mountainous lands of Ha Giang province and Sapa City. We got lost on the area’s passes, stayed at the home of the Red Dao people, drank their extremely strong paddy wine, ate the very delicious local foods, and tried the special bong of the ethnic minority. All of those things are gonna be the best memories of my whole life.

Escaping Your Safe-zone

Going around Toronto by subway
Using the subway to go around Toronto.
Playing dogsledding in Moonstone, ON, Canada
I experienced dogsledding for the first time in Moonstone, ON.

Perhaps you should travel to a place that you don’t know the language to try learning it. Or try eating new foods and enjoying the culture which you cannot find at home. Else, you may want to try wandering around a place with its local transports without any plan. You should have an interesting challenge on your trip, but don’t forget to spend time exploring around unplanned. And traveling makes you smarter that way, undeniably.

Every time I wander around a destination, I always find something new and interesting that makes my brain liked blowing. In other words, I find my self a little bit smarter. To elaborate, I lived in Vietnam all the years before coming to Canada. And by the time I go to the country of maple leaves, I learned to use the subway, and streetcar. Later on, I can easily use that kind of transportation wherever I travel to. In addition, that was my first time touching the snowflake, then got used to it after months living in Canada. I even played dogsledding and watched hockey the first time in life.

Traveling as Long as You Can

The Broad Life at Quy Nhon city and its island, Cu Lao Cham
Me and my friends spent weeks at Quy Nhon city and its islands.

Money is always limited, as well as your day-off? If you are a good problem-solver, try to stay at the place as long as possible. The longer your stay, the more connection, and network with the locals that you can make. Who knows, you may even make many new friends after the trip. Moreover, you could deeply learn the culture of people at the destination.

Remember my trip traveling the top half region of Vietnam I mentioned above? When I came to Sapa city and stayed for nearly a week. The hotel’s manager where I lived has brought me and my friends to visit beautiful spots around the city. Later on we kept our contacts and he’s joined us to another trip to the hidden gem Quy Nhon city. Until now we sometimes call and share our stories together.

Don’t Imitate Exactly Anyone’s Travel Plan

Planning for the travel
Having your own plan is ideal for any journey to learn the most.

Reading other people itinerary is effective and convenient as it could help you plan the trip easier and more economical. Nevertheless, if you rely too much on others’ travel plans such as where to eat, stay, visit, or even what to do, it will make your trip less meaningful and valuable.

Your trip would be more valuable and impressive if you explored everything yourself. Even I’m a travel blogger, and I share a lot of info on my blog to support every traveler, I would suggest you do research about the place you intend to visit, including its special cuisine, or the transportation, etc. I’m sure your trip would be more exciting. And in this way traveling makes you smarter, too.

Walking More

Trekking at Bu Gia Map National Park, Vietnam
We are trekking to the camping spot inside Bu Gia Map National Park.

Although I said that driving a car or riding a motorbike is one of the best experiences, you should spend more time walking and enjoy things. I believe interacting with nature would bring you a lot of new lessons in your life.

By saying walking more, I would like to relate it to trekking, or hiking more. All of those activities force us to use our legs to walk and our hands to feel the surrounded objects. As a result, we have more chances to expand our knowledge of everything we touch and feel.

I still remember the time I joined a trekking trip at Bu Gia Map National Park, I learned how to cook water using bamboo. And in my trek at Ta Nang – Phan Dung, I pretty much enjoyed making the tents, preparing dinner, and sleeping in the middle of nowhere. Even that night had heavy rain and wind, and I was so cold, it was one of my best experiences ever.

This last section might somehow isn’t related to traveling makes you smarter, but more about a thing that I really want to share.

As Rob Lowe has written in his second book Love Life, “Adventure is important in life. Making memories matters. It doesn’t have to be a secret seaplane and a historic sports moment. But to have a great life, you need great memories. Grab any intriguing offer. Say yes to a challenge, and to the unknown. Be creative in adding drama and scope to your own life. Work at it, like a job. Money from effort comes and goes. But the effort from imagination and following adventure creates stories that you keep forever. And anyone can do it”.

In my opinion, the drama doesn’t mean dangerous. You are both the director and actor of your life story. All you need is making your story the most interesting so you can proudly show it to your friends, your relatives, and even yourself later.

And I made The Broad Life to share my stories with everyone.


The Broad Life's Pinterest Board of Traveling makes you smarter post

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.


  • Ntensibe Edgar Michael

    In a way, I agree with you….you do get street-smart or what you can call “sharp”. You are always on the look-out for something new or things you have never seen before!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah in some cases I believe street-smart is quite important to deal with real life problems. And you can learn a lots from traveling 🙂

  • angelina

    I live my life by the “making memories happen” mantra! Great post, so glad i discovered it!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      That’s a great way to live. Life could changes, but great memories have always been there.

  • Colleen

    I love this post. I’m a big proponent of travel and how it can improve your life. You really do gain a certain level of smarts from travel. There’s a lot of critical thinking and problem solving involved, especially if you do a lot of traveling to countries that don’t speak your language.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      I agree with you. The more I travel, the more skills of critical thinking and problem solving I improve. It can be easy to see that you sometimes can take the solutions of this place to apply for that place, and that can only be learnt if you go to many different places.

  • Cha Esper

    i agree with this article. traveling makes us also responsible because before we go to a place, we have to make a lot of research. 🙂 before, during and after the trip, you will learn a lot…

    cha @

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah I agree with your point, we can even learn before the trip by researching info about the destination we plan to go to.

  • angelina

    I really live by the “Make memories happen” Mantra! Thanks so much for sharing, great tips!

  • Krisy

    Traveling can truly change your life and improve aspects of yourself! I do agree with everything you listed here.

  • The JOYOUS Living | Influencer (@thejoyousliving)

    yes there is something about becoming street smart due to stepping out of your comfort zones.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      And the travelers could the street-smartest people in the world haha

  • emmandamian

    I believe that traveling makes you smarter because it gives you wisdom! Also, you get to apply what you learn in real life!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Definitely! And how do you feel after traveling to some destinations?

  • Brianna

    I 100% believe this! 42 countries and counting here and I plan to show my kids as much of the world as possible!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Wow that’s so awesome! If possible could you share here with me and my audience what you have seen traveling around 🙂

  • Emily Fata

    I’m definitely on board with this idea! I feel like travelling offers an amazing opportunity to expand your knowledge of things that other nations are only able to teach you.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Absolutely! Even in school a teacher maynot traveling enough to have knowledge to teach you everything. But locals at places will teach you amazing things that you cannot expect.

  • katrina Kroeplin

    i love traveling. it does get hard as i’m disabled now so things need to slow down. it’s also fun though to try new foods especially in different cultures.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah having a food tour at a new places teach us a lot about the new culture. Are you planning to do another trip in the future?

  • Angela Ricardo Bethea

    Totally agree with you there, traveling makes you consider tons of stuff and also learn a huge amount of lessons and information whenever you visit a place.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yasss, and many people call that street-smart or life-smart that you cannot learn from school or from just staying in a single place.

  • TheSuperMomLife

    I completely agree. I wish I was able to travel more often, but I don’t have the funds or the time right now.

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