The idea that you could board a flight with one personality, fly around for a while and then disembark a completely different person sounds like science fiction.

But don’t be so quick to dismiss, because travel can actually change you who are…

Most of us hold a static view of the human personality. We think we are who we are and who we’ve always been.

But such a view isn’t backed up by science.

For decades, the scientific community has been promoting a different view of the personality and the brain. According to the research, your personality isn’t some static psychic default that’s immune to change. Instead, it can be shaped and moulded by experience – in much the same way as the brain.

But studying the personality – and specifically, its ability to be shaped and moulded by experience – has always been a difficult task, as it’s nearly impossible to isolate the events that have a causal effect on the personality.

To complicated the pursuit further, personality changes aren’t usually the effect of some dramatic event but are caused by subtle changes over time.



Difficult to study, yes, but not impossible, as a fascinating study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in September 2013 demonstrated.

By tracking the subtle changes in personality of a large sample of German university students who went abroad for one or two semesters, and comparing these changes against a control group that stayed at home, the researches were able to track what effect – if any – living and travelling in another country had on their personality.

Before the study began, all the students were given a personality inventory to measure five different personality dimensions, namely, extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, conscientiousness (e.g., a need to follow rules and to complete tasks) and emotional stability. Once the study was over, the same students were measured again.

And what were the results?

Students who went overseas scored higher in extraversion than those that stayed at home – that is, they were more outgoing after returning home than before. Those returning home also scored higher in conscientiousness and in openness to experience than those that didn’t go overseas.



All these results demonstrate the power of travel to change the human personality (and the world) for the better, basically like a form of personal development.

Travelling opens you to new experiences and catapults you right out of your comfort zone, forcing you to adapt and grow.

You’ll confront new cultures and world views and meet people who have much less than you.

You’ll be forced into being more assertive to ensure you pay a fair price on that souvenir.

And you’ll have to make the first move and break the ice with that other traveller sharing the bus with you.

These mini-stretches of your personality may not seem like much at the time. But as the research has clearly shown, they all add up, ultimately changing your default personality and making you a better person along the way.

Now how awesome is it to be a Travel Agent and to play such a positive role in the lives of your clients?!

**MUST READ: Which (FC) Travel Agent bird type are you?

Has your personality drastically changed since you started travelling?