In today’s fast-paced world, the time we spend travelling to and from places can feel a lot like a waste of our time. We can’t always change the fact we need to catch that train or airplane – but can we change the way we utilise our journey?
Whether you’re commuting to work, heading home for the holidays or travelling the world, here’s 8 ways you can minimise unproductive hours in transit and truly maximise your travel time.
1. Read a book
As Abraham Lincoln once said: ‘All I have learned, I learned from books.’ Some people love getting stuck into a good novel, but, for some, the focus that is required can make it feel more like a chore. However, reading books helps to maintain our brain function, build on our vocabulary and writing skills, as well as helping us to understand a broader range of subjects and scenarios. Turning the pages brings you brain power (plus the chance to get transported to a new world while in transit).
2. Converse with a passenger
We spend so much time surrounded by strangers, yet we rarely strike up a conversation with them. However, having positive social relationships is a main ingredient for happiness, while making the effort could help you make someone’s day or better your own, Chatting to the passenger sitting next to you is perhaps even more impactful, as it allows you to speak to someone that’s not in your immediate circle – and therefore help broaden your thoughts and views.
3. Brain training games
Pack one or two travel games in your luggage and give yourself the chance to bond with someone without the use of a screen or device. Not only will this help to make the journey go quicker and act as a source of fun for all involved, but games can also be a way to train your brain and give it the stimulation it seeks. With recent research suggesting that Monopoly is Canada’s favorite tabletop game, you can’t go wrong with packing a game in a handy travel size next time you take a trip.
4. Immerse yourself in a podcast
Podcasts have become hugely popular over the last decade or so, and it’s easy to see why. These bite-size shows are perfectly built for any type of journey and cover all sorts of subject matter, from newsy or conversational to fictional or comedic. They provide an accessible way to listen as well as meet other like-minded listeners. The best thing of all? If you’re an auditory learner, information will stick because it’s being delivered in a way that works for you.
5. Learn a language
There are a million reasons to learn a language, not least because it offers the chance to communicate with other cultures. Aside from that though, learning a language will undoubtedly give your brain a boost and can make you far more interesting to the people you meet (not to mention opening up a lot of potential career paths too). There are multiple ways you can learn on the go, from audio tapes to books or apps like Duolingo, all of which you can do when traveling.
With life being so busy, sometimes it can pay to stop and sit (or stand) still for a time. Travelling is a good a time as any to do this; you can turn off your electronics, sit still and watch the world go by – all the while reflecting on what you’ve been doing and taking the time to re-energise and look forward. You may do this just through mulling things over in your head, while some people may find it useful to record this through the process of journalling. Simply pop a notebook and pen in your bag next time you travel.
7. Take a power nap
If you’re looking for permission to have a snooze, don’t worry: power naps have been shown to be very productive. In fact, they can improve our cognitive performance in a number of ways, from improving our mood to reducing stress and increasing our alertness. Some research has also shown that a power nap in the afternoon can be more effective than drinking a cup of coffee – and that’s without the caffeine crash that you’ll get after!
8. Watch a TED talk
No matter who you are or where your interests lie, there’s a TED talk for you. Whether you want to improve your happiness, further your career or be enriched by others’ experiences, TED talks give you something that stays with you for far longer than a scroll of your social media feed. With most TED talks being around the 20-minute mark, you can take in as much or as little as you want to, too. They’re free, accessible and you can watch them anywhere – and these TED playlists will help you pick something to perfectly suit your mood today.