Unleashing Potential Abroad: A Roadmap to Productive and Meaningful Journeys


Travel is not about the destination but the experience. . . . That’s what makes [it] so appealing, so addictive, and that’s what makes Rediscovering Travel so necessary.” — Peter Greenberg

Traveling is a common activity that varies in its purpose — you can travel for vacation, family visits, business trips, or a combination of objectives. Given everything you should do, traveling can be exhausting and inefficient if not well-planned. You may not exploit every opportunity because you’ll run out of money, time, and energy from all you have to do. But travel planning is the key to overcoming most of these challenges.

There is an ongoing relationship between traveling and productivity. On one hand, traveling may be a way to boost personal productivity, on the other hand, efficient practices can give you a better traveling experience. But only if you plan properly.

Thus, this article explores ways to create productive and meaningful journeys either for business or entertainment purposes.

Understanding the foundations

Before discussing how to maximize your travels, you must first understand why travel is such a big deal in the first place. After all, traveling isn’t anything noteworthy, right?

Not so. Travel is more than just moving from one area to another in pursuit of a goal. It can be a deeply transformative experience, linking to mental health, productivity, and even personal growth. Here are some benefits:

Boosts mental health

Travel has many benefits for your mental health. For example, traveling is a way to boost mental resilience. It enables you to overcome and bounce back from challenges. It is a perfect break from your job to relieve stress.

Read more: Shame, Resilience, and Mental Health: Breaking the Cycle of Self-Doubt 

Additionally, it contributes to creating a traveler’s mood. Some studies reveal that visiting new places and having new experiences can improve your overall happiness. According to studies on females’ mental health, the more vacations a woman takes, the less likely she will experience depression.

Drives personal growth

Additionally, travel is a wonderful opportunity to further understand yourself and “create a sense of wholeness.”

Your journey is a source of immersive learning and cultural experiences, i.e., exposure to new places and cultures is a rich source of knowledge and learning. “Foreign experiences increase cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought,”  Adam Galinsky, an American social psychologist, affirms. Moving from one place to another makes you understand other contexts, situations, and ways of life. Especially, If you are traveling with your loved ones.

Being on a journey with someone you love meets psychological needs. You nourish your soul with love and calmness.

Improves productivity

Traveling improves your productivity and effectiveness. The days you spend away from your office and home reduce the risk of burnout and increase energy and productivity. According to a study done by Harvard Business Review, 94% of the sample answered that they feel more energetic and happy after they come back from a trip.

However, if you are not well-prepared, results may reverse. Intentional travel planning can ensure and maximize traveling benefits. It can make your traveling experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Setting clear objectives for the trip

If you want to make anything productive, the golden rule is to set clear and specific goals, including traveling. 

“Although goals are important, having a plan of action is vital to the success of those goals. Having a goal with no plan of action is like wanting to travel to a new destination without having a map.” — Steve Maraboli

Read more: Goal-Setting: Why You Should Set Goals – Insights 

You can categorize traveling into three categories according to objectives:

  1. Leisure travel which is purely for entertainment and recreation purposes.
  2. Business travel that aims at attending professional events such as conferences and meetings.
  3. Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) has a social objective to meet acquaintances and friends.

These categories don’t mean that if you are traveling on business, you cannot have fun — you can create a well-balanced itinerary that includes both work and leisure activities.

Time management and itinerary planning

Efficient practices like time management and itinerary planning make your journey more productive. Proper planning helps you save time for resting or entertainment, cut down costs, ease the stress of travel, and hence make yourself happier.

Planning for travel is an exhausting but exciting experience even before it begins, the act of imagining a journey being a pleasure in itself. Matthew Killingsworth, a senior fellow at the Wharton School, says, “Since we know a trip has a defined start and end, our minds are prone to savor it, even before it’s started, sometimes people even prefer to delay good experiences like a trip so they can extend the period of anticipation.”

Furthermore, AI proves to be an effective tool for time management and planning. AI software can remind you of your schedule and give you recommendations based on variables. You can choose the appropriate tool and try it before heading to your destination. Some examples include:

  • Travel Planner AI
  • ChatGPT
  • iPlan.ai
  • TripIt
  • Wonderplan

Do your research and plan in advance

While planning for your journey, make sure to investigate and make proper decisions regarding the most critical aspects of your travel. Here are some pointers.

  • Look at your route and transportation: Consider reducing your traveling time when planning routes and transportation. The shorter the time on the road, the more productive you will be. 
  • Decide who you’re going with: You may need to determine whether you are traveling in a group or alone, as the arrangements will differ. For example, you’ll likely get discounts and packages for activities with a bigger group.
  • Get introduced to laws: Research and study the legal environment of your destination. Look for laws like travel restrictions, prohibited acts, curfews, policies, or anything that might affect your stay. Also, check the legal prohibitions of food and beverages, especially alcohol.
  • Search weather conditions: You must ask about and research the weather conditions while traveling. This will help you avoid overweight packing and the extra cost of buying appropriate clothes in foreign currencies.
  • Consider your medical status: Plan in advance for any health-related need. Ensure that you have all your drugs and check their legibility. You may need to visit your doctor before traveling, especially if you suffer from chronic disease. Plus, check whether your insurance works in your destination. 
  • Check overseas proceedings: Traveling abroad may require extra miles of planning, for example, VISA appointments and flight reservations, in addition to currency exchange.
  • Plan your financial conditions: Determining a budget for your journey can make your planning easier. For example, consider cooking yourself or looking for cheaper options when dining out. Furthermore, heading to your bank lets you learn more about payment options abroad.

Using a trip planner is essential to include all of these details without missing any information.

Read more: Family Finance Planning at Different Stages of Life 

Prepare to minimize jet lag

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, jet lag results from a “mismatch between a person’s normal daily rhythms and a new time zone.” Symptoms of temporary sleep problems appear in people who travel across different time zones.

Read more: The Impact of Sleep on Productivity and How to Get Better Sleep – Insights 

Jet lag affects your focus, concentration, mood, and physical performance, reducing productivity. You may suffer from stomach problems, too. However, you can prepare to minimize the impact of jet lag.

  • Determine the change of time zone and simulate it before traveling. In other words, if you are traveling west, you can adjust your sleeping routine and go to bed one or two hours later. While traveling east, you shall sleep one or two hours earlier. Otherwise, you can consider visiting a doctor to prescribe sleep-aid medications if needed.
  • While planning flights and accommodation, consider giving yourself a couple of days to rest. It is not the best thing to arrive and go to work instantly. Your body must have enough time to adjust to the new time setting.
  • Avoid any unhealthy practices before and during your journey. For instance, eat healthy food with small portions to avoid stomach aches while always keeping yourself hydrated, and include exercising and walking in your daily routine.

Read more: Foods That Keep Your Brain Healthy 

Reflection and goal assessment

Traveling is an experience, the more you travel, the better and more productive you can be. This happens when you assess your progress and evaluate the achievement of set goals during the trip. So you can better plan for your next journey.

One of the methods you can use is the Satisfaction with Travel Scale. It is a tool that evaluates your travel experience from different aspects: cognitive evaluation and affective evaluation. Cognitive evaluation measures your overall happiness, ranging from positive to negative. Affective evaluation assesses your emotional well-being, ranging from activated to deactivated.

Moving further, you could figure out the lessons you learned, the inspiring moments you spent, and the connections you made. It was an experience worth appreciating.

In conclusion

Travel, as an experience, is very rich. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, your personality and mental health get better. You are exposed to new cultures and communicate with new people, while your mental health improves with higher resilience and less stress. But these benefits vary according to the extent of steadiness and planning for your journey.

To maximize the benefits of traveling, you need to set your journey objectives clearly and smartly. Then, plan for every detail during your journey. Look at things like paperwork, accommodation, transportation, and your daily agenda to utilize your time and achieve your goals.

You need to know that traveling is an experience like all experiences you undertake, the more you practice and prepare, the more you will gain and enjoy. So, consider evaluating your trips regularly and identifying any potential challenges.

If you would like to see more resources on productive travel, check out the Personal Productivity Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Personal Productivity Science Labs today.

personal productivity science labs

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