Why Traveling Matters.
New experiences help shape us—and not just emotionally. When we experience something new, our brains form new neural synapses. This is especially true for kids, but research shows it happens for adults too, albeit to a lesser degree.
Synapses are the connections with which our neurons communicate, and better connected brains make for higher functioning brains. As children grow, the building of synapses is in full swing. It peaks into the teenage years, which is then followed by synaptic pruning into the 20s. During this latter process, frequently-used synapses are retained, but weak synapses are pruned. This emphasizes the need to not only provide a rich environment for children, but to continue to enrich our daily lives into our adult years. This is why we are often suggested to vary our daily routines to prevent age-related cognitive impairment and memory loss.
So how do we provide new experiences for our kids and for ourselves? How do we enrich our environment? How do we promote mental stimulation?
There are really so many options. Take a different route to school/work, do puzzles, play games, cook new recipes, read books of different genres, make new friends, eat with your non-dominant hand, try a new sport, take music lessons, learn a new language...and travel!
Traveling is the mother of new experiences. It provides new sights, new sounds, new flavors, new challenges, and possibly new relationships! And it doesn't have to be expensive and grand to be effective. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on an exotic vacation package, although those are fun too! Pack a lunch and hop on over to the next town. Try a new park. A new hiking trail. A new beach.
Just try something new. Have an adventure and keep all those hard-earned synapses strong!