Travel is fun, but whether you’re enjoying a holiday abroad or a weekend road trip, it comes at a price. You need to be organized; it takes time and effort to prepare. And of course, you need to be able to take time off and have enough money to treat yourself in the first place.
Seasoned travelers know that a little sacrifice is necessary before you get to escape the everyday routine. But in a post-pandemic world, it will be even harder to enjoy travel. You might face more significant risks and restrictions in different parts of the world for as long as the threat of COVID-19 is not yet entirely under control.
So when you do get to travel in the future, how do you maximize the entire experience? Making more long-term memories might be the secret we’ll all need.
Our everyday lives can seem to be incredibly busy and stressful. The things you’re doing from one minute to the next, over days and months, all seem to blur into a constant stream of activity.
But if you were to look closely and break down how much time you’re spending on different activities? You’d probably find that lacking time is an illusion. We spend less time working and have more free time than we think.
The problem is that as we grow older, our lives settle into routines. We no longer do things that are engaging, stimulating, or simply different. Ultimately, we retain fewer memories of these times; our minds are inclined to categorize routine experiences as unimportant, and thus forgettable.
Working the memory curve
Naturally, the travel experience itself is a jolt out of the ordinary. That’s a big reason why we love traveling. Even if you don’t go out of your way, you’ll have plenty of memories to save as pictures affixed with craft glue dots to your scrapbook.
However, the more you travel, the more likely it is for you to feel a bit jaded. We go to different countries, and within each country, we visit different destinations. Going to the same places we’ve been before somehow feels a little less magical.
Memory highlights beginnings and endings. Influential speakers manipulate this by placing the key points of their speech at either end; what’s in the middle is quickly forgotten.
In the same way, if you travel without intentionally maximizing your memories, you might feel this sort of memory curve. The best trips you’ve taken seem to be the earliest as well as the most recent.
Our travels can become more memorable if we seek novelty as much as possible. This is something most travelers do instinctively, which means we’re better at it in the beginning. Without a deliberate approach, we become less effective over time.
Novel forms of engagement
Each visit to a new country or city is a first. But without realizing it, you might be falling into patterns of repetitive behavior, which makes the experience less memorable.
Maybe you look up the best local restaurants and make dinner reservations to enjoy different cuisine. But during the unscheduled bits of downtime, do you naturally gravitate towards hanging out at the nearest Starbucks or a similar Western-style establishment?
We tend to drift to the familiar. Resist this urge, and you can enjoy small moments in local cafes or the like. Of course, the appeal of Starbucks comes from being able to offer a standard experience around the world. If you avoid that, your mileage can vary; it could be hit-or-miss. But it will be memorable.
Beyond consciously changing your routines and habits as you travel, you can also increase novelty and make more memories by engaging the different senses. Young children explore the world with all their senses. But as we grow older, we don’t always indulge them equally.
Don’t just sample the regional cuisine or visit art galleries; indulge in sensory pampering, such as soaking in a Japanese onsen. Attend a concert by local artists even if your taste in music is different. If you’re generally not active, a walking tour will surely give you a new way to experience even familiar cities.
Finally, make connections. It’s known that students retain knowledge better when they share what they’ve learned with their peers. Talk with the people you meet on your journeys, and share stories about the places you’ve seen or things you’ve done. You might pick up some useful travel tips in the process. And by recounting and reliving your experiences, you’ll be able to cement them more firmly in mind.
Meta title: Making Things More Memorable Is the Secret to Maximizing Your Travels
Meta description: Traveling will entail more difficulty in the future. If you want to make the most of each journey, here’s why you should deliberately seek out novel experiences to make great memories.