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Traveling and Creativity

A photo of an airplane window with the airplane wing in sight and blue skies on the horizon

Traveling is a way I can clear my head and gain inspiration from other places. It can have so many benefits (and so many curveballs). Overall, I think having a bit of a breather in a unique environment can do wonders for your soul. And it can provide inspiration for your creativity along the way.

In addition, I consider traveling as both self-care and a means to connect. This can include the connection with self, others, Mother Nature, and the world. I'm fresh from a couple weeks of traveling this summer, and feel inspired to reflect on my experiences. In this article, I'll give some key reasons why I believe in the power (and privilege) of travel.

It Gets You Out of Your Comfort Zone

At its core, traveling gets you out of your comfort zone. By choosing to travel, you leave your day-to-day routine and embark on somewhere different than your "norm". This can be a great thing for some and a stressful thing for others.

I recently took a trip to Yosemite National Park this summer. It's somewhere I've always wanted to go and I finally went for it. I planned to hike, having done a fair amount of hiking in my day (well, a lot back in the day). I brought my gear, packed snacks, won the lottery that is needed to hike Half Dome, woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready to tackle the 17-mile Half Dome hike, and mentally prepared as best I could with as many positive affirmations I knew.

Was this comfortable for me? Absolutely not. For one, I don't normally wake up that early, nor do I normally run/walk/hike that many miles in one day. I figured, if one is in Yosemite, one must participate in the Yosemite things, right? Also, my traveling partner was super excited to hike Half Dome (again). So there I was, part trooper, part achiever, heading out to the trailhead in the dark so we can do the hard part uphill before the heat settled in by midday.

Though, by some stroke of luck (for me, not him), there were multiple road closures on the way to the trailhead, which sent us back in a 5-mile loop each time we missed the turnoff. We didn't realize it until the third time around that there was not a way to get into the parking lot the usual way. The roads were unfamiliar and cell service was spotty to try and look up alternative routes. And by that time, it was past daybreak and we were losing precious time to hike up before the heat set in. We would have had to figure out another way to enter when I casually suggested we grab a coffee and do a smaller hike instead...

I figured, I was totally prepared to do the hike. I had every intention of doing it, even though it was out of my comfort zone. But there were literally blocked off streets that we didn't know about until that morning. I interpreted it as the universe throwing me a bone and saying "hey it's ok, let's take it easier today." An unexpected reward for being a trooper and putting myself out there? Maybe.

I think the act of getting out of your comfort zone lets you know what you are capable of. And while I didn't hike Half Dome that day, I did learn that I would have if the opportunity presented itself. And maybe that was good enough to know at that point in time. There's always next year. Now I have more time to train :)

Traveling Lets Your Mind Relax

Photo of Marcella Lopez, nonfiction editor, taking in the scenery at Yosemite National Park

Something beautiful happens when you can focus on the present. And often, with travel, there's so many new things to see, you can't help but let your mind let go of all the things going on elsewhere or what's happening on social media.

I think traveling is similar to looking at or doing art. It can ease your mind (often in the case of nature travels) and allows room to think of other things and appreciate what's in front of you. I usually find myself more curious when I'm traveling. Thinking of things like what's the elevation on that mountain? What's the history of that building? What is bark made out of (j/k).

All in all, your mind can focus on other things, spur curiosity, and even get inspiration to be more creative ;)

It Can Help You Roll with the Punches

Another part of my travel adventures this summer included a trip to Washington, D.C. What was supposed to be a five-day trip, turned into a seven-day trip. What I learned in the news and from peers those first few days, was that a hurricane was supposed to hit San Diego the same evening that I was scheduled to fly home...

The airline reached out to encourage me to reschedule my flight (they ultimately canceled it). But, because there was a hurricane watch for that day and the following day, the next flight out was two days after my original return flight. Luckily, I did have some flexibility in getting back home, so I took the next flight out two days later. I realized it was a privilege to be able to spend an extra couple days in D.C., and I decided to make the most of it. I also didn't have much of a choice with the flight schedule back home, so I rolled with it.

In those extra two days, I saw sights that I wasn't planning to see. I went into Georgetown for lunch and the zoo; and I even saw pandas! I visited Arlington National Cemetery. And another highlight was a visit to an awesome word museum, Planet Word :)

Photo of wall art at Planet Word with many words spelled out in various blue colors

By rolling with the curveball that travel threw at me, I was able to see and experience more.

I started traveling more heavily at age 20 when I studied abroad in Chile, and over time I think it's helped me to adjust to other curveballs life has thrown at me with perhaps a little more grace. I'm often reminded of the saying "plot twist" when these life detours happen.

And when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone, letting your mind relax a bit, and rolling with some plot twists along the way, I ultimately believe travel and creativity are complimentary to each other. In this way, I think creativity can flourish under these circumstances.

So, I hope you find yourself with safe travels on the road of life, my friends. And to be in the know on my blog articles, click subscribe and scroll down my home page to sign up for the latest updates.



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