One of the most important traits a traveler can develop is open-mindedness.
But what is open-mindedness?
Open-mindedness is a willingness to search actively for evidence against your current beliefs, plans, or goals and to weigh this evidence fairly.
Open-mindedness is the ability to move beyond our more primitive instincts and to use the rational parts of our brains—the thing that most makes us human—to its full capacity.
Open-mindedness transform the world from a place filled with fear and danger into a garden overflowing with possibility and delight.
Fortunately, anyone can become more open-minded. You just have to follow a few simple steps and next thing you know you’ll be turning every moment into an opportunity to learn and grow—to go to bed wiser, happier, and healthier than you woke up.
What is Open-Mindedness?
To be open minded is to reject certainty and embrace a world of new ideas and exciting possibilities. It is to allow for the possibility that your deeply held beliefs are false or misguided.
It is to experience people and places without rushing to judgement. It is to consider changing how you live your life.
The open-minded traveler sees a world filled with opportunity. They understand that they don’t have all the answers within and so they set out on the road to discover a better self.
They learn what they can from others and bring that knowledge home with them. They take comfort in their uncertainty, as they feel no need to defend their world view to every person they encounter.
Open-mindedness is not intellectual wishywashinessy. Rather, it’s the most principled, courageous thing you can do—to search for the truth regardless of where it takes you or how uncomfortable it makes you.
Being open-minded also does not mean you can't have judgement. You can remain both principled and skeptical, saying 'no' when you know something to be wrong.
Why Open-Mindedness is So Important (Both While Traveling and in Daily Life)
1.) Open-mindedness makes travel (and life) more exciting.
Whether at home or on the road, doing, seeing, and thinking the same thing every day is boring.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what closed-minded people do. In an effort to maintain their beliefs, they live in a bubble of comfort and sameness with limited exposure to alternative viewpoints or ways of doing things.
In contrast, open-minded people’s lives are much more interesting. They don’t let the possibility of changing their opinions prevent them from experiencing all that life has to offer.
Rather than rigidly following routines, open-minded people regularly seek out novelty in the form of new ideas and activities—all of which makes for more exciting travel and a more exciting life.
2.) Open-mindedness promotes personal growth.
Why do some people repeat the same mistakes again and again while others make constant progress in life? The answer is open-mindedness.
The first group digs their heels into the ground and would rather die than be wrong while the second group is wiling to learn from past mistakes.
Being open-minded allows you to weigh new ideas, even if (and especially if) you don’t instantly agree with them. And the more you’re wiling to do this, the faster you will grow.
3.) Open-mindedness leads to better relationships.
Want to have more high-quality relationships? Then become more open-minded.
Open-minded people attract more interesting people—and develop deeper connections in the long run—than their closed-minded counterparts.
Rather than automatically avoiding someone based upon a potential difference in beliefs, open-minded people go out of their way to meet eclectic and intriguing people, knowing that such individuals often have the most to teach.
And since open-minded people allow others to simply be themselves, the people they meet often will want to stick around, sharing their deepest personal beliefs while appreciating the non-judgmental vibe.
So next time you’re looking to connect with the locals while on the road or build up a network of high-quality friends at home, consider being more open-minded.
4.) Open-mindedness makes things more relaxing.
Basing your identity on a rigid set of never-questioned beliefs can be exhausting.
No matter how well you insulate yourself from the outside world, you’ll inevitably have to face someone or something that challenges your ideas—and when you do, you’ll have to fight back with all your might. After all, admitting you were wrong would be to give up part of yourself.
Open-minded people don’t have to worry about this issue. Because they admit that they don’t know it all, they don’t have to see new ideas as threats to their very existence. And as a result, their travels are more relaxing.
5.) Open-mindedness promotes self-confidence.
There’s something empowering about questioning one’s beliefs.
Giving yourself the freedom to examine your thoughts—breaking down the logic behind them and considering alternative solutions—is what creates stable, easily-defendable belief systems.
And a life based on sound, well-reasoned principles is one that naturally breeds confidence.
So when someone in New York confronts you for believing that it’s important to spend time with family or when someone in Mumbai questions your insistence on regular exercise, you’ll be able to easily and comfortably explain why.
6.) Open-mindedness leads to better problem solving.
No matter how experienced of a traveler you are, unexpected problems can and will occur when you’re on the road.
Fortunately, being open-minded helps you to more quickly and easily solve these issues.
Because they don’t automatically reject ideas, open-minded people can see solutions that close-minded people cannot.
7.) Open-mindedness creates safer travel.
The open-minded traveler is a safer traveler. They don’t rely on stereotypes or previously-conceived notions to understand their world.
Rather, they see things as they are, adapting their perspective to new information and responding accordingly.
How to Become More Open-Minded
Now that you’ve seen how beneficial open-mindedness is, you’re probably wondering how you yourself can be more open-minded.
Fortunately, there’s a number of simple (if not always easy) things you can do at home and on the road to encourage open-mindedness.
How to be More Open-Minded At Home
1.) Find your motivation
The easiest way to motivate yourself to become more open-minded is to find your motivation for doing so.
Write down a list of ways in which your life would improve if you were to be more open-minded. What would change on a daily basis? What would change in the long run (both professionally and personally)? How would your travels become more enjoyable?
2.) Start practicing
There are a number of activities you can do before your next trip to become more open-minded.
1.) Remember a time when you were wronged by someone. Wright down three plausible reasons why that person intentionally or accidentally wronged you.
2.) Find someone who, in your opinion, believes things very strongly and very differently from you, and have a dialogue. Pause a few seconds after every sentence they say, so as to ensure that you’re actually thinking about their words rather than just preparing for a rebuttal.
3.) Read a book about a topic you’ve never explored before, such as exotic cat ownership, kite sailing, or Peruvian cooking.
As you do these activities again and again, your default mode of thinking will start to change. You'll begin to look for explanations rather than immediately passing judgement.
Looking for more exercises to help get you ready for your next trip? Get your FREE guide here. It's packed with interesting and inspiring activities that are guaranteed to have you prepared for the trip of a lifetime.
3.) Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness mediation—the act of purposefully bringing one’s attention to the preset moment in a non-judgmental way—can greatly encourage open-mindedness.
To learn how to meditate mindfully, check out this informative article from Mindful.org.
How to be More Open-Minded While Traveling
1.) Listen more than you talk.
One of the easiest ways to be more open-minded while traveling is to listen more than you talk.
So often our impulse when having a conversation—especially with someone we disagree with—is to think about our next point rather than what our partner is saying. As a result, we fail to truly appreciate their points.
Instead of trying to “win” every conversation, make a point to learn as much as you can from whomever you’re speaking with.
Whether you’re chatting about politics with a bartender in Buenos Ares bar, discussing soccer with taxi driver in Manchester, or debating the merits of adding cola to beer with a tour guide in Berlin, you’re interacts will be more insightful and worthwhile if you make an effort to carefully listen.
2.) Avoid making snap decisions (get the facts first).
It’s tempting to make snap decisions about things while on the road. When traveling—especially to new places—it’s easy to play things safe and remain closed off to anything that makes us feel uncomfortable.
However, doing so causes you to miss out on much of what’s interesting about the world.
Behind every fear is an opportunity to learn, grow, and be amazed—if only we’re willing to give things a shot.
Whether it’s a meal, an activity, or a life philosophy, take the time to learn the how, why, and what of it before you say 'no'.
3.) Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
It’s easy to assume that everyone you meet has the same information—or lack thereof—that you do. This is true both for visitors and for locals.
Next time you find yourself unsure about something, remember this gap in knowledge and ask for clarification.
Often something that made little sense without and explanation will become perfectly logical with one.
4.) Travel more.
The best way to become open-minded is simply to travel more.
Traveling opens you up to a wide-variety of ways of thinking and being. Traveling shows you that people find happiness and health in many different ways. Traveling teaches you that just because you were taught to do things one way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
The world becomes both smaller and larger when you travel, as you see both the depth of our similarities and the breadth of experiences available.
Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
As you’ve seen, being open-minded helps these eyes to open up.
Open-minded individual see a world filled with opportunity and excitement. They know they don’t always have the answers so they explore the world with energy in a search for a better tomorrow without fear of what they might find.
In short, they choose to live life to its fullest.
Are you interested in becoming more open-minded and bullet-proofing your mind for travel? Get your free copy of ‘The Traveler’s Mindset’ right now. It’s packed full of exercises based on the latest scientific research and personal experience that are guarantee to transform how you see the world while getting you ready to make the most out of your next trip.