For many people, Spring Break travel is now done and everyone is back to work or school. If you got away over the past few weeks, I hope you had a good time! Travelling back from my own Spring Break trip, I reflected on how travelling, whether solo, as a couple, or as a group, is a great way of building emotional intelligence. Here are six ways I think travel builds EQ – I am guessing you can think of more.
Traveling builds confidence. Putting yourself in different environments, trying new things, experiencing new sights, flavours, and recognizing your ability to thrive in the midst of all these new situations and stimuli can reinforce your belief in your own abilities, and develop your personal resilience. Successful resolution of some of the situations I mention below will also bolster the belief you have in your own capabilities, which serves to reinforce Self-Regard.
Travel, whether it be within your country or to the other side of the world, is often on many people’s bucket lists. Picking a destination, saving for the trip, making the arrangements, and then finally going on the trip, is a process of goal identification and realization that works for many other life goals as well. On some trips, multiple goals can be realized. For example, a trip to learn to surf, climb a mountain, horseback ride, or attend a Yoga retreat. So, when you travel, you can not only cross things off your list, you develop your belief in your goal attaining ability too!
If you travel to a country where a language other than your own is spoken, you quickly learn that much of the communication process is comprised of tone and body language. You may not know the right words to use when approaching a stranger to ask for directions, but you will learn that how you approach them is an important ingredient for success. Of course, the same goes the other way too. Learning to read the nonverbal cues and tone of the person approaching you on the street can give you some insight to their possible intent.
For many, meeting other travelers is an important part of the experience. For myself I have met people while travelling and continued to stay in touch after the trip. Social media, of course, makes this much easier now than in the past. The act of meeting new people (if that’s your choice) and developing those relationships is a great way to develop your interpersonal relationship skills. As well, if you are travelling as a couple or in a group, that too is a great way of building EQ. As I discuss below, travelling tends to put you in a unfamiliar situations, and how you work with and communicate with others in these situations is a valuable way of understanding and building your EQ.
Flexibility refers to our ability to adapt to changing circumstances, conditions, or situations. Given the general wealth of unknowns in any adventure, a need for flexibility is a core skill for enjoyable travel. Whether it’s the offer to share a cab with another couple to the airport, unexpected flight delays, fumbling through a foreign language, or seemingly unnecessary bureaucracy at border crossings, travel presents you with many chances to look at things differently and develop your adaptability.
Going alongside Flexibility comes a need to be tolerant of the stressful situations that can occur on your travels. A missed flight connection, a lost travel document, trying to find a late night cab in a strange city, or realising you have wandered unknowingly into the wrong part of town can all be stressful depending on the circumstances. Recognizing and managing your reactions to these situation allows you to develop a resilience, and belief in your ability to work though and successfully resolve stressful situations.
So next time you find yourself on a trip, whether for business or pleasure, in the next town, or the next continent, give some thought to how the experience can help build your EQ, as well as allowing you to use the EQ skills you already have.