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How Your Brain Changes for the Better After Travel

Morella, Spain
Violet jelly and apricot jelly in Morella, Spain!

We don’t condone narcotics, but strangely strong feelings of euphoria are okay if they’re natural and healthy, right?

So here is a secret formula to get your brain feeling amazing: Go away from home for a really long time, and then come back.


Nine months is the longest I’ve ever been away from home, and in this whole week since coming back to Boston after circumnavigating the globe, I have felt cerebrally heavenly. Why? Because when you are truly HOME with YOUR city and YOUR country and YOUR dear, dear loved ones, there’s a certain part of your brain that takes a deep, deep breath… then, at last, relaxes.

I hadn’t realized this, but apparently, for nine straight months, this part of my brain had been tense as a teacher on her first day in class: constantly alert, calculating, poised to run or fight, ready to arduously navigate how the heck to get from one part of a strange new territory to the next.

Morella, Spain food
Foie gras with violet jelly in Spain… DELICIOUS!

At first this mental stimulation of constant travel is a zing on your brain and feels delightfully energizing and new! But after a few months, like any constant stimulus, this feeling fades into the background and you begin to accept it as normal.

But it’s NOT normal!

Such constant stressing of the neurons (as thrilling as it may be) is somewhat akin to thumping your noggin against a brick wall. For nine months straight. Thoink! Thoink! What city am I in again? Who will I meet here and how? What sights will I see? How do I get back to my hostel? Thoink! Thoink!

So, when you finally collapse into your own bed in your hometown in your fleece pajamas with your head in a beloved family member’s lap, the mental feeling is like that moment of wonder when the brick wall quits hitting your skull.

Ahhh. Peace. Calm. Caring. Ease… and the love of those who truly know you!

Circumnavigating the earth is AMAZING. And so is coming home. Travel changes you.


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Friday 6th of April 2012

Well put. That's exactly how I felt when traveling in Central America, the constant need for alertness became second nature. Always being mindful of your bags location while on a bus, or of individuals in your dorm that appear shifty. You don't really even notice that you're doing it until you get back home, and catch yourself being overly alert to your surroundings that you realize how much attention you had been paying to your surroundings on a day to day basis while away.


Friday 23rd of March 2012

I total agree with you. Not being home for 9 months is tragic. How can u survive? :o

Ian [EagerExistence]

Sunday 13th of November 2011

After 7 months abroad, I'm not homesick exactly, but I'm looking forward to the trek home and cracking a beer with mates at the beach (I'm from Australia).

Huabao Huang

Thursday 28th of April 2011

Those kind of looked gross, but I bet they'ra good. Yummy!



Sunday 28th of November 2010

I actually agree with this fully!

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