Traveling rocks. Practically everyone likes to travel, whether by land, sea or air. And why not? You get excited to see new environments and people, try new things, and be surrounded by fresh and inspiring surroundings. But did you know that traveling can actually help your design work as well? Yep, there are at least 5 reasons travel can improve your design work.
Now, to be clear, traveling doesn’t directly help your designs (except for reason #4 below). Rather, travel can indirectly improve your design work by improving yourself. When you become better/happier/more excited, your work becomes better as well. It’s like fuel for your brilliant work, and traveling constantly refuels you. The reasons explained below will show you just how traveling does that.
Without further ado, here are 5 reasons travel can improve your design work:
1. You have more effective and focused work sessions
Due to less work time, you’re forced to focus and finish a design or project within that time. It’ll be a more intense crunch-time style work session, but you won’t needlessly stretch out your designing time. You save time that you can put into more work or, y’know, taking in and enjoying the rest of your day.
You know how, when given a deadline, most people finish a project at the deadline? If you have all day to finish something, that’s how long it’ll usually take you. But if the deadline was given for the next day, or even later that day, you’ll find a way to finish it then. We humans have some weird ability to hyper-focus in a crucial situation.
By traveling, you’re self-imposing these stricter deadlines, finishing your design work in less time – and freeing up more of your day for other activities.
2. You constantly get fresh inspiration
New things almost always yield fresh inspiration. You’re seeing and experiencing something for the first time, which gets your ideas and creative juices flowing. Just think back to the first time you saw a radically new design, or watched a new film, or heard a totally different style of music.
When you travel, you can get constantly inspired from new cities, architecture, nature, trains, diverse culture and fashion, and so forth. Besides indirectly getting inspired from all of these new things, you can also pick up some direct visual design inspiration from how some new building is constructed, or the colors of it, or new fashion styles or signs you see around you.
The more you travel, the more new things you expose yourself to, and the more frequently you give yourself doses of fresh inspiration.
3. You keep yourself easily motivated and excited
By having diverse sights and activities during your travels, you can keep yourself easily motivated and excited. Why is this? Well, too much of one thing runs your creative well dry.
Think about it: when you listen to only one style of music or watch one type of film or browse through one kind of visual design style, you eventually start to get bored. And why not? It’s more or less the same thing, over and over. No one can stay motivated and excited with that.
4. You meet new designers and clients
This is a reason that can actually directly improve your design work – or get you new contacts, which can result in new clients or visitors and users. The more you travel and explore new places, the more new fellow designers and clients you can meet. Whether in coffee shops, co-working locations, at conferences, or in the offices and shops of local businesses, you’ll be assimilating yourself more in your field.
The new fellow designers you meet can expand your horizons, whether creatively or through a potential partnership or lead. And meeting new clients speaks for itself.
Nothing – nothing – beats a face-to-face meet and a handshake (or even better, a high-five or fist bump). Not a phone call, not an email, not a Twitter message, nothing. You bypass all those noisy channels by directly meeting a potential new client in person. You can let your (hopefully) likeable personality shine through, and the client will be much more likely to hire you for some work you actually want to do. He or she has sensed what kind of a person you are, in a way that you couldn’t have expressed through an email or even a phone call.
And if nothing else, you can use conferences as an excuse to start traveling more. A web, tech, or design conference is an obvious place to potentially expand your horizons creatively and network-wise.
5. You keep your setup light and lean
Who wants to lug around multiple monitors, some big tablet, and external hard drives? Practically no one, that’s who. They’re luxury items for the most part. And guess what – most designers don’t need much of that stuff. By traveling more, you are forced to trim your tools down to only the essentials.
So you have a laptop, some earbuds or headphones, your select few accessories, and not much else. A pretty simple, clean, and slimmed down setup, right? What you’ll find is by having less, you’ll often actually get more done. Less distractions, less stuff to plug in and turn on, less things to pack and unpack, less things weighing you down. Storage is getting bigger – both on devices and online via tools like Dropbox – so external hard drives aren’t as essential as they once were either.
You don’t have to choose which tool to use, or dread having to plug something in again when you remembered you forgot to tweak something in your design. You just pop open your laptop, fire up Photoshop or a text editor, do the tweak, and bam, you’re done. Yeah, that huge monitor is nice, but you don’t really need to see a few extra lines of HTML code or whatever. Again, luxury item. Yes, yes, it might seem essential, until you go a week without it – then you realize you could do without it. The tradeoff is a lighter setup to carry, which will make your traveling a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Travel Can Improve Your Design Work
Traveling isn’t only fun, exciting, healthy (both physically with all the movement you’ll be doing, but mentally by stimulating yourself with new sights and experiences), and the cool thing to do (the ladies dig travellers), but it can also help improve your design work. It’s a win-win situation.
Also, don’t think of traveling as some all-or-nothing affair. Simply driving or biking around your surroundings you haven’t explored yet is a great start (or if you live in a big city or gorgeous nature environment, a destination unto itself that others would envy). The point is, do something, anything, to explore something and somewhere new. Your design work – and by extension, your clients and/or visitors and users – will thank you.
To recap, here are the 5 reasons travel can improve your design work:
- You have more effective and focused work sessions
- You constantly get fresh inspiration
- You keep yourself easily motivated and excited
- You meet new designers and clients
- You keep your setup light and lean
Do you travel? What has your experience been in regards traveling positively influencing your design work and workflow? Feel free to share in the comments section below.