I travel a lot. 86 countries so far, and counting. I travel for fun, for my photography (www.hixposure.co.uk as a shameless self promotion) and for work.
I travel because I think it’s the best education you can get, and I return appreciating my life even more.
And travelling can increase your awareness so much more than your home territory, and I open myself up to new things.
Now for sure, I’ve got excited by things, and bought the local clothes for instance, only to return, stare at my buying decisions, and never ever make use of them. It’s really quite easy to get carried away by the local ‘thing’.
But it’s important to do this still. Yes, I can get overly carried away by the local costume for example, and make the repeated error of making a purchase in the mistaken belief that it will be really cool to wear back in London, but the important things are to continue to get excited by local ways, then return, look at your selling market, and make a clear headed decision.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’ve also done some very good things based on my travels. Sometimes not immediately, but nonetheless my head is open to the new, and you never know in what form that’s going to take.
An odd and interesting example of this, is when I was in Okinawa eating some noodles. I looked at the wonderful empty ceramic bowl which had a fantastic look and feel to it, and realised that I’d missed something vital in every gift I was designing. That thing was the feel. It wasn’t just the look and functionality of the product, but running my hands over this empty bowl made me realise that I’d overlooked something really important for my products.
Of course, it would take some months for me to feed this concept through our schedule, but I started doing this, and it was all from sitting alone with a bowl of noodles. You see, it doesn’t have to be a shop, or your competitors items, but just being open to anything new, can help you reconsider something you had previously taken for granted.
You won’t get this thunderbolt every time you travel, or every time you open yourself up in an unfamiliar place, but like everything, the more you do it, the better you get.