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8 Ways Traveling As A Couple Saves Relationships — And Makes You A Better Person

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Immerse yourself in culture, all while getting closer.

You can gain many things from going overseas: new experiences, new stories with your partner, and new friends. However, traveling to another country may also bring a less noticeable change: creativity. The benefits of traveling are endless.

For a long time, writers and thinkers have felt the creative advantages of international travel. For example, Ernest Hemmingway drew inspiration for work from his time in France and Spain. Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, moved to the US from England to branch out into screenwriting.

In recent years, neuroscientists and psychologists have started looking into what many people already anecdotally know: spending time outside the usual space may have the potential to change how the brain works, ultimately teaching you how to save a relationship that may be on the rocks.


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The aspect of creativeness is based on neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by habit and environment which means they are extremely sensitive to change: new smells, tastes, and sensations may have the potential to revitalize the mind.

According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and author of many studies on the connection between international travel and creativity, cognitive flexibility is an essential component of creativity. It gives you the ability to jump from one idea to the next.

“The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and engages in the local environment,” he says. In other words, visiting Cancun for a few days on spring break will not necessarily make a person creative, but living with local fishermen might.

A US travel association survey interviewed over 1,000 couples to find out how traveling affects romantic relationships. The results were positive, highlighting eight in ten couples who believed that traveling had a positive impact on their relationship. On the other hand, almost 63 percent participants believed that travel helps couples stay together.

What is the reasoning anyway? Here are 8 benefits of traveling, what travel can do to your brain, and why it can teach couples how to save a relationship that may need an extra boost in the long run.

1. Travel gives you the courage to step outside of your comfort zone.

If you’re in a foreign country, traveling can at times put you out of your comfort zone, having you roughly adapt to those differences.

According to the 2013 paper by Zimmerman and Neyer, the challenge can strengthen the openness and various other dimensions of your personality. The paper adds that a new adaption makes you less emotionally reactive to everyday changes, while meeting an entirely new spec of individuals can also boost agreeableness (depending on the size of your social network).

Couples who travel together know exactly what it’s like for things to go wrong in a different country, often a result of something completely out of their control. They just know that a laid-back attitude can be a major determining factor in keeping the adventure fun.

Another survey found that couples who traveled were more likely to say they "laugh and have fun together" and handle conflict well, even if their personalities clash. With some travel mishaps still fresh in mind, couples who travel frequently understand the vitality of perceiving possible misfortunes as opportunities for jokes.

2. It acts as a stress reliever.

Our lives are constantly busy, making us feel that we’re living each day on repeat. Traveling is one of the best ways to escape the daily grind and stresses of life. It offers novelty and insight in the form of new experiences and people.

Margaret J. King of the Centre for Cultural Studies and Analysis says, “With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can rest, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”

For some couples, travel is not about seeing new places, but rather escaping old ones that have a negative impact on their lives. Vacations can also help you manage stress as they take you away from the places and activities that contribute to the stress levels.

3. It boosts creativity and makes you more interesting over time.

A study conducted by the Academy of Management Journal found that a huge chunk of people working overseas had the most imagination and inspiration to work compared to those who stayed in the US. Why, though? It’s all about cultural immersion.

The study’s lead author, William Maddux, Ph.D., told BuzzFeed, “People who integrate a new culture into their identities are more creative in the long run." His logic highlighted the fact that following in the footsteps of the locals for an extended period opens up your mind, forcing you to think in different ways. It is a concept that scientists like referring to as "cognitive flexibility."

So basically, eating roasted scorpions with your partner on an Asian adventure may just make you more creative, and an interesting person over time.


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4. You expand your vocabulary.

When you travel to a place where you don’t speak the language, your challenge begins the moment you step off the plane. Soon enough you are required to learn the basic pleasantries and phrases that will allow you and your partner to get around. There is nothing more rewarding than a successful conversation in your non-native language.

And according to some studies, learning a second language can greatly enhance a person’s general intelligence, reading abilities and memory. With every new word you pick up, you automatically unlock the potential to talk to a wider group of people and understand their different cultural nuances, unlocking the doors to people’s hearts and minds.

5. You're getting a happiness boost, even before you get on a plane.

The unexplainable jitters are not only felt during or after your trip, but the mere anticipation of going on vacation abroad can boost your mood. People, and especially couples, are the happiest when they have a nice vacation planned, according to a study by the University of Surrey. They also tend to be more positive about their economic situation and overall quality of life.

People who travel with their partners have realized that romance is not necessarily about the place or money spent, but more about the state of mind of spontaneity that leads them somewhere better than before.

6. You strengthen your inner self. 

Another one of the important benefits of traveling is that you build your character in the long run. The ability to get out of your comfort zone not only helps you build a strong character but also provides you with a brand new perspective on how to save a relationship.

Travel may also help you strengthen your brain and fight against brain disorders. “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought — the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” says Adam Galinsky, a professor at the Columbia Business School.

7. You have the chance to reinvent yourself.

Think a leather jacket is too bold for your look? Think again! Traveling as a means of personal reinvention is vast. Individuals travel all the time in search of a fresh start or a sense of purpose.

And the best part about all of it? It works. Taking a short or long break from the usual business enables us to contemplate and potentially re-draw the life-plan we are pursuing on our journey. It helps to look at life from a distance both metaphorically and literally.

For example, Jim and Gail Nelson have been married since 1973 and have traveled to more than 40 countries across Asia, Europe, and South America together. From those collective journeys made, the couple has come to value the essentiality of intimacy and joint experience.

According to Gail, “We together have a better understanding of the rest of the world. If only one of us traveled, the other wouldn’t understand those experiences. When you travel together, you both get to understand other cultures and, in a way, understand each other.”

8. You stay present.

Undoubtedly, most relationships are primary breeding grounds for doubts about the future. The people who travel, however, appreciate the value of living in the moment. Since experiencing a new country tends to pull our minds towards the present, you become more capable of handling "unexpected situations," which sometimes makes everything better than what you’d anticipated.

Plus, being so entirely enraptured by the intensity of the present moment, it is impossible to think about anything else. Couples who travel the world know there is no need to "overthink" and over-exert the mental capacities. What’s taking place in the present moment is always enough.


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