The Intellectual Benefits of Travelling

On the road again
On the road again

Someone who lives a Neo-Renaissance life includes travel in that life for one simple reason: Travel connects us to the rest of the world, which stimulates our intellects.

A cornerstone of a Neo-Renaissance life is the Intellectual aspect. We must constantly learn, try new things, entertain new ideas, see how others live, exchange goods and services with others outside our local sphere, in order to thrive. Here are some ways travel achieves those objectives:

  • Travel to different regions, climates, and terrains, shows us that the world is a large and diverse place. I live in Minnesota, so travelling to the Pacific Coast states of California and Oregon last month reminded me that the oceans are vast, mountains are high and massive, Redwoods are gigantic and ancient, and climates vary radically from region to region. The coasts never see wide temperature extremes, whereas in Minnesota, temperatures range from roughly -40 degrees Fahrenheit to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. People live differently simply based on the climate in which they reside. Most west coast residents never see snow on the beaches, even in the dead of winter. In contrast, my hometown was treated to fifteen inches of snow on May 3rd. (still can’t believe that) What’s more amazing, three days later we set a record high temperature for May at 103 degrees.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA
  • States are free to enact different laws, and livelihoods vary depending on geography. For example, Oregon requires there to be attendants to pump your gas, whereas most other states have gone to self-service gas stations. There are also far more wineries in Oregon and California than there will ever be in Minnesota, so wine culture is much more prevalent on the west coast. The commercial fishing industry is another unique business to coastal states compared with Minnesota’s emphasis on sport fishing.
Old Seaman Sculpture Eureka, CA
Old Seaman Sculpture
Eureka, CA
  • People have different values, attitudes and customs in different regions. California is considered a trendsetting state as well as containing a relatively large liberal-minded population. As a result, one may see more aging hippies in northern California and Oregon than in Minnesota. I also get a feel that there is a more independent, do your own thing attitude in the West than in the Midwest, where residents tend to be more conformist-minded.
Plastic trash sculpture Bandon, OR
Plastic trash sculpture
Bandon, OR

My wife and I have travelled fairly extensively in our lives, mostly in the United States, but also to Canada, Mexico, and Europe. We’ve benefitted from learning about other cultures and languages, the diversity of the world, and realizing that United States, flawed as it is, is still one of the best places to live on Earth in the 21st century. We have very little true poverty compared to the poorest of the poor, and are relatively free compared to what we saw in East Berlin in 1986 before the Berlin Wall came down.

My Neo-Renaissance protagonist, Matt Lanier, a musician by profession, traveled with bands and orchestras in college and the first part of his music career, so he’s been around the world performing in major cities as well as small clubs and colleges all over the United States. Meeting different people and experiencing different cultures has made him who he is today–a worldly-wise, tolerant individual who has learned much from all the different people he’s met and from the places and cultures he’s been exposed to.

One of the best reasons of all to travel is to see wonders of the natural world that can be awe inspiring, breathtaking, or just soothing to the eyes and the mind. Minnesota may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but we sure as heck don’t have a lake like this one:

Crater Lake National Park, OR
Crater Lake National Park, OR

Where have you travelled that has broadened your intellectual horizons? Where is the place you’d most like to live if you could live anywhere in the world? Where is the place in the world you’d least like to live?

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