An international education: Why is travel important for designers?

sanchita chugh
2 min readSep 16, 2020


“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

katsura imperial villa, kyoto, japan

It is beyond doubt, that travel is synonymous with design education. But perhaps more surprisingly, the creative benefit that an individual gains from traveling can be drastically impacted by how immersed one is into the culture that they’re visiting and how it reflects in our creative journeys. Every country speaks a language, has a visual vocabulary that respond to its lifestyle and society.

I went for an international educational tour to Japan and I believe that it was almost like experiencing a well-researched documentary due to which a psychological shift occurs when one spends a certain amount of time with a particular intensity, abroad. I would say that it was certainly a Valhalla moment for me! The brief stint entailed immersing oneself in the place, pushing our limits and making the most of something in the given time — certainly something I could not have done on my own, by myself. And that is the thing about travelling with passionate and aligned minds, you can never get too tired — to miss out on that last building, or that one timeless experience someone told you about.

Those who put ideas in boxes get inspired to think out-of-the-box. If design reading and discussions help deliver better solutions, travel is like the fuel of creativity. Design tours help look at design from a previously unseen angle. In my opinion, the design fraternity must travel for cultural immersion, increased confidence, and of course to widen their mindset. It is a global perspective that helps us get local insight.

Visiting a new place is like being a blank canvas — ready for an experience. Having an open mind usually leads to generating the best ideas and executing original designs. One is forced to think on one’s feet when pushed out of our comfort zones. And we reflect on behaviors and expectations that may have otherwise been subconscious. Being dropped into a new environment engages a dormant part of our mind and gets those synapses firing again! The subconscious signals we receive in frenetic, always-on countries like Italy or Japan will differ greatly from lesser avant garde cultures.

”Nobody comes back from a journey the way they started it.”