I have been blessed to be born into a family who takes traveling very seriously. As a matter of fact, my first international flight was at the very mature age of ten months old. My first domestic travel was when I was a mere couple months old. The bustle of airports, scrutiny of check-ins, fragrance of duty-free shops, and endless shops of overpriced snacks have always felt like home to me. My siblings and I were always told that the skills we learn during travel – resilience, flexibility, time management, independence, empathy, & curiosity – would be lifelong skills that could adapt to anything. So, what does traveling have anything to do with design? Let me tell you my thoughts.
I had mentioned the skills we learn with travel – resilience, flexibility, time management, independence, empathy, & curiosity. Through flight delays, communication and language barriers, familiar product availability, travel restrictions, and other obstacles that come up with travel, one must learn to be flexible and positive. Being able to manage travel issues in a mature manner shows adaptive resilience and patience with the process. Every trip needs a good itinerary to keep on track of your goal for the visit. It’s now a habit for me to create a detailed itinerary with contact information, locations, top attractions, prices, and options for eatery near the area. This not only helps with organization, but also assists in managing time needed to allocate for different activities. The more you travel, the more confidence you have with exploring, socializing, and stepping outside your comfort zone. Traveling teaches independence in being able to navigate unknown territories and enjoying every part of the experience. These experiences are driven by curiosity of how others live, how others perceive, and how to break out of the sheltered mindsets we grow up in the comforts of our own homes. Lastly, and almost most importantly, I’ve seen how travel impacts one’s empathy and understanding of others. We travel to foreign lands, learn their traditions and cultures, listen to their stories, and see with our own eyes how their countries function. We inherently empathize and connect with people we may have never thought we would understand.
So, what does this have to do with design? The field of architecture and design is based on serving our communities with spaces to benefit and grow from. We cannot serve our community if we cannot understand them. We cannot solve their day-to-day struggles without empathizing with them. Design is fluid and ever-changing, and we need to learn to continue to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient in finding the design solution that fits. We cannot stick to just one solution but must adapt as constraints change. Designers are curious creatures, looking for ways to implement materials and concepts in ways unimaginable to solve design issues for our clients. That pull to dive in a little deeper, to research a little more—it feeds that curiosity and develops unique design solutions to our clients’ needs. In a professional setting, deadlines are always a constant. If we don’t have the skill to manage our time to complete projects in timely manners, no one will hire us, no matter how amazing our design skill set may be. Designers need to be independent in motivating themselves to get the job done. These qualities grouped together makes a responsible yet creative designer who listens to their clients and strives to share the clients’ stories, but also a really fun travel partner.
I’ve traveled to 5 continents, 18 countries worldwide, and 16 USA states, yet I have so much more to learn.