How travel hacks your mind for peak performance

fly How travel hacks your mind for peak performance Kim Wright
Approx read: 3 mins

Want a better brain? Say bon voyage!

Vacationing is good for your soul and even better for your grey matter.

Ever feel like your brain gets stuck in a rut? Same old routines, same old scenery – we all know that drudgery and repetition can leave you feeling sluggish and uninspired. Well, pack your bags, because science has revealed a powerful brain booster that’s more exciting than any Wordle challenge or Sudoku puzzle. Travel!

Neuroplasticity: your brain’s built-in upgrade

Imagine your brain as a bustling metropolis. The more streets you build and the more you explore different neighbourhoods, the more vibrant and adaptable the city becomes. That’s the magic of neuroplasticity, your brain’s incredible ability to rewire itself throughout life. When travelling throws you and your brain into a whole new world, it forces forcing your neurons build new connections and navigate unfamiliar territory. It’s like a mental gym, giving all your cognitive muscles a workout that no amount of brain training apps can replicate.

Think of it as an immersive experience that goes way beyond guidebooks and tourist traps. A study published in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology  found that students who lived abroad displayed increased creativity abilities including measures of insight, association, and artistic generation compared to their stay-at-home counterparts. That’s the power of immersion – being surrounded by novelty nudges your brain to think creatively and forge new pathways.

Imagine the mental boost you get from haggling in a bustling marketplace in Hong Kong, deciphering prices and services in a Turkish hammam, or simply navigating the subway system in a foreign city. It’s a constant challenge that keeps your brain firing on all cylinders.

hola How travel hacks your mind for peak performance Kim Wright

Get a cognitive fitness six-pack

Let’s unpack the scientific loot you score on your next adventure. Here’s how travel strengthens your brain across six key domains, making you a true cognitive powerhouse:


Trying to order a cappuccino in Italian and your brain will be thanking you. Immersing yourself in a different language environment, even if it’s simply basic communication, strengthens your auditory processing and memory centres. It’s like a crash course in linguistics, forcing you to think on your feet and develop creative ways to get your point across.

Visuospatial skills

Lost without a map? No worries…. Navigating unfamiliar places, whether it’s bustling city streets or winding country roads, challenges your brain’s built-in GPS, honing your spatial awareness and sense of direction. Picture yourself mentally mapping out the intricate alleyways of a Moroccan medina or following a point on a horizon you’ve fixed a tramping destination on – travel is a constant exercise in spatial reasoning.


From deciphering a menu in a foreign language  to understanding cultural cues in a bustling supermarket, travel keeps your focus laser sharp. You’re constantly bombarded with new sights, sounds, and smells, demanding your full attention and keeping your brain on high alert. It’s like a natural remedy for a wandering mind, forcing you to be present in the moment and soak up the experience.

Executive function

Planning your itinerary, managing unexpected detours, or figuring out complex directions on a map – travel is a masterclass in decision-making and problem-solving. Every twist and turn on your journey throws a new curveball at your brain, forcing you to adapt, improvise, and think critically. It’s a real-world application of all those strategy games you love, only with the added pressure of navigating unfamiliar territory.

seal How travel hacks your mind for peak performance Kim Wright


New sights, sounds, and experiences create a memory bonanza, boosting your brain’s ability to retain information. From remembering the name of that charming village in Tuscany to recalling the intricate details of a historical landmark, travel creates a treasure trove of memories that keep your brain sharp.

Processing speed

Adapting to new situations on the fly, whether it’s bargaining with a street vendor or navigating a crowded train station, keeps your brain nimble and efficient at processing information. The constant barrage of novelty forces your brain to react quickly and make split-second decisions, honing its processing speed in a way that everyday routines simply can’t.

Bonus Level: the brain, abroad

Travel does more than just build cognitive muscle. The very act of planning a trip gets your brain buzzing with excitement. The anticipation triggers a surge of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that fuels learning, mood, and motivation. So, basically, travel is a happiness hack disguised as an adventure! It’s like a reward system built into your brain, priming you for new experiences and personal growth.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your next adventure and get ready to experience the world – and your brain – in a whole new way!

What is dopamine travel?