design travel

How travel abroad elevates my creativity at home

Not so long ago, I was a freshman Journalism student at MU. I had big plans: I was going to travel the world, writing stories as an international correspondent for some big news agency. A few years later, I switched tracks from journalism to advertising—still with plans to exit the Midwest as soon as possible.

Needless to say, I never thought I’d find myself settled down in Columbia, Missouri, with no plans to move in the foreseeable future.

My younger self might have been disappointed to learn what the future would hold. But while my plans may have changed, the core of who I am has not: hardworking and driven with a love for foreign languages, a soft spot for package design, and—like any true millennial—a constant sense of wanderlust (provoked by daily consumption of Instagram content).

Fortunately, I found a partner who wants to explore the world just as much as I do. In our first two years of marriage, we’ve traveled to Argentina and New Zealand together, with plans to travel to Europe in just a few months.

While these trips were for pleasure, they’ve had an unexpected effect on my work as a marketing professional and designer in the States.

On our most recent trip to New Zealand, I was reminded, again, of how much I can nerd out over a really great advertising campaign, or how a good logo mark can stop me in my tracks. I had the chance to absorb something different from the U.S. ads I’ve grown immune to—to actually be aware and take notice.

I also loved that as I consumed new advertising and swooned over fresh designs, I felt I was learning something about the Kiwi (New Zealander) outlook on life: Have fun. Take more risks. Talk straight. And from a design perspective, form over function is okay. (In non-designer speak that means, “It’s okay to break the rules sometimes.”)

Now, looking back at my photos I realize that much like a good book, good design can take you anywhere. To new places in your imagination, to a new way of thinking, and a deeper appreciation for how we are so different from and similar to our counterparts across the globe.