Travel & Creativity


I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is T is for Travel & Creativity.

One of the coolest ways to increase your creative thinking abilities is to travel. The distance on the map isn’t nearly as important as crossing the cultural divide.

Creativity is Connection

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”     —Steve Jobs

By taking the time to experience a new culture, intimately, the things you think of as normal are suddenly just one way of doing things. I’ve experienced this firsthand many times. The first was when I was 16 and traveled to Spain for a summer. It was an amazing experience that changed my life forever, giving me a broader perspective.

Travel in India

Later in life, I traveled with my husband to do missionary work in India. The modern missionary perspective is less about changing cultures to look like your own and more about seeing the beauty in foreign cultures, crossing the cultural divide and sharing our love of Christ. On that trip, I fell in love with the people of India.

Travel in the Middle East

A year later we traveled to the Middle East where we focused on ministering to the persecuted church. We spent time in West Bank of Israel, where Christians are a small minority in the land where Jesus was born, lived, and was crucified. The Christians there are caught between the cultures of the Jewish Israelis and the Muslim Palestinians. We visited Morocco where it’s illegal to be a Christan. And, just after the “revolution”, we were in Egypt, where my husband was able to smuggle Bibles and we ministered in house churches. In every place we visited, we met incredible people facing things we can’t imagine as Americans. We also saw unique ways of overcoming obstacles.

Honk if you Travel in India

Travel by car in India could be a harrowing experience. The first night we were there we wondered if we would survive the journey from the airport in New Delhi to our hotel. I’d never heard so many people honking their horns. I wondered why they were so angry. When daylight came and we headed off to Chandigarh I noticed the signs on the back of many of the vehicles on the roads. They said, “Horn Please.” I asked about this and was told that many vehicles didn’t have side mirrors or blinkers, so this would warn drivers that you were about to overtake them on the road. Even though having 5 lanes of cars driving on a 3-lane road took some getting used to, we noted that there was always a way out of a traffic jam.

Horn Please

Don’t Honk if You Travel in France

On our way home, we had a 28-hour layover in Paris. The first 4 hours were spent in a cab, driving the 20 miles to our hotel. This cab ride was serenely quiet but amazingly tense. We inched along at a snail’s pace as the meter accumulated charges. Everyone stayed in their own lanes and not a single person honked. I wanted to scream, “Surely you can squeeze between these lanes. Just honk, will you?” I didn’t, but I could see how quickly I’d begun to think like an Indian.

Travel changes you

When you travel to learn about different cultures you are changed. You see new perspectives and new ways of doing things. The deeply ingrained connections in your brain are suddenly rerouted to create new ones. This is how travel makes you a more creative, and often a better person.

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

12 comments on “Travel & Creativity

I so admire you for the work that you’ve done, Heather. I’ve heard from other friends that time spent in India changes one’s life. It’s not something I ever see myself doing, but I am very glad there are people like you and your husband who are so committed to helping.

Hi Karen. It was such a privilege to go. No matter where we travel, we are changed by the people we meet. I always feel like we get more than we give. It definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone because I am very introverted, so meeting so many people can be tiring, but worth it!

You’re so right about travel changing you. Perspective taking becomes life. In a small way, blogging has done that for me in that I see outside my bubble.

Hi Jacqui. I understand what you’re saying. One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most this A to Z has been interacting with the other bloggers, peering into their world. That’s been a great surprise.

I would be scared to drive in India. We have a fairly large Indian population in the area, some immigrants, others were born here. I wonder how they adjust to our driving.

Hi Liz, I was so glad we had a driver/translator while we were in India. I always think transportation says a lot about a culture. Even in the States, from one part of the country to the next, there is a lot of variety in the way roads are laid out. In Minnesota, we have a lot of road per person, so going to other states with higher population density can be a little hair-raising at times.

I completely agree. Until I spent time in another country, I made a lot of assumptions I did not even know I was making. Mini example: I have friends in Ecuador who have cement flooring in their home. They laugh about people wanting to pretty up floors with tile, something these friends see as a waste of money. I assumed they could not afford the tile, not that they thought it was proverbially tossing money out the window.

Love this post, Heather!
Emily In Ecuador

Hi Emily. That reminds me of when I went to Spain as a young girl of 16. They laughed that I would shave my legs rather than go and get a monthly wax. They said when you shave, 3 days later you grow “trees” from your legs. I thought they were nuts for going through the waxing process. Now, 30 years later, my daughters want to wax their legs for the same reason my Spanish friends did. Different perspectives…

I’ve travelled a bit and as much as I enjoy other cultures, it seems that it also has the effect of making me appreciate what I have at home. Australia is so far away from most countries and by the time I finally arrive back on home soil I feel like doing as the pope does and kissing the tarmac as I get off the plane!

Leanne |
U for Understand Yourself

I agree with you, Leanne. I find that the older I get, the fonder I am of home. Everything is the way I like it (or at least like I’m used to it being). I remember after our time in India, we were dying for a burger. We lost all sensibilities and forgot that we usually split a meal. Soon, we had way too much food sitting in front of us in an airport restaurant. There really is no place like home. Sometimes it helps to go someplace else in order to see that most clearly.

The quote from Steve Jobs is a really good one. I have experienced creativity by seeing connections others might miss. Travel is fatal to prejudice-I don’t know who said that, but more people should travel. I personally love it. Experiencing other cultures and landscapes feed my soul.

Hi Suzanne. I love that quote. I looked it up and learned that it was Mark Twain who said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Thank you for sharing!

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