Travel and creativity

Travel and Creativity: Art restorers viewing painting in Cuzco, Peru

How to combine travel and creativity

Travel and creativity make good partners, but often in surprising ways.

We previously looked at how to use small trips, neighborhood jaunts really, to hunt for materials for two types of creative projects. One was making small sculptures. The other was making bottle openers. The intent was to help you come up with your own approach to combining travel and creativity by making objects based on what you found as you walked.

This time, let’s explore the deeper reasons for why connecting travel and creativity matters.

The benefits of combining traveling and creativity

Here are some of the main reasons why it is worth taking the time to Collect, Connect and Share, a key approach to combining travel and creativity, even if on a very short trip:

  • An approach where you hunt for objects on a trip that you then use them for a project involves tactile creation. In our Zoom-oriented world right now where many of us spend way too much time in front of screens, doing something meaningful with your hands not only connects travel and creativity; it can also be highly therapeutic.
  • It helps you notice the world around you better by seeing objects from a new perspective. That ordinary pine cone is no longer a common object in nature but is now valuable art material. Learning to pay attention will make any trip—or no trip—far more meaningful and enjoyable.
  • It teaches you how to create without plans. No need to do any pre-project designs or list your project steps. Just gather materials on a walk (bring a bag or other container to hold them) then dive in. That’s a good reminder that on travel, some of the best experiences occur when you just wander without a destination.
  • It gives you permission to do something poorly. One of my favorite quotes from the writer G.K. Chesterton is this: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.” This means that if you love it, it doesn’t matter the outcome. The process itself is valuable. Connecting travel and creativity in this kind of project is not necessarily for others. You can give your final result away if you’d like, but if not, it doesn’t matter. You gained something by making it irrespective of the outcome.
  • It helps you learn new skills or practice old ones.
  • It gets you to try something new, which lies at the heart of both creativity and travel.
  • It opens the door to other possibilities. Think of these little sculptures or bottle openers as gateway projects to bigger art and craft opportunities.
  • Your search for raw materials may likely take you to new places, even if that simply means new streets, trails or fields near you you’ve never explored before.

Art gallery, Beijing, a place for connecting travel and creativity

  • It’s a key reminder of this principle from my forthcoming book, Hidden Travel: you don’t have to travel far to travel well. Wonder lies all around you if you’ll just look for it.
  • It turns a trip into a quest and gives even a quick stroll a greater sense of purpose.
    It’s an activity you can do by yourself or with your family. Needless to say, kids love making these types of sculptures.
  • It helps connect you with your more playful side, the kid in you. You’ve been keeping that kid locked up too long, don’t you think?
  • It helps you see the potential in things you discard or disdain. Because you’re up-cycling materials that you or others normally trash, you’re, in a small way, realizing that everything can have value if you use it in different ways.
  • These projects actually make great gifts for the right friend without costing you anything but the fun time you had making them. I say “right” friend because I’ll admit, these aren’t everyone’s jam. But in that case, use the same concepts of hunting down ordinary objects to make something fun and make a different kind of sculpture or household item. Just making a list of types of projects you could make will give those creativity muscles a boost.
  • This exercise can be combined with other ways to practice travel when you’re not traveling or how to discover your home. It also relates to learning to see the right details to tell better stories and take better photos.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood columns, an example of combining travel and creativityOther benefits of connecting travel and creativity

While research shows that the greatest benefits to one’s creativity come from living overseas, even short trips or a summer vacation can help to grow your creative abilities. In my last post, we’ve looked at the specific ways to connect travel and creativity through projects you make from items you discover on a trip. But there are numerous other benefits of combining travel and creativity. These include:

  • Being exposed to new ideas and new approaches or techniques. This matters because the more ideas you have, the better ideas you’ll discover.
  • Increasing your openness to new experiences
  • Fostering your observational skills because you notice more when you’re in a new place
  • Expanding your appreciation for people, ideas and things that are different
  • Helping you with combinatorial play, that is, learning to combine diverse elements that appear to be unrelated but that suddenly make sense together.

What are some of the ways you’ve found to connect travel and creativity?