I'll be frank: I'm tired of winter. Science may say that my brain works better in cold weather, but I feel like my creative flow has permanently frozen over. I miss the warmth and sunshine, and the smell of inspiration. At this point, I'm just about ready to find that Punxsutawney groundhog, take away its shadow, and get spring started already.
Feeling the winter blues? Consider a "grown-up Spring Break"--a trip that raises your creativity and your productivity, too. Yes, you can take that break, guilt-free, because it actually helps make you more effective. Sometimes going to another place helps you get to that productive place, and gets your creativity flowing. But where to go? Here are four places to travel to now (or at least dream about).
Be afraid, be (a little) afraid
Maybe it's my childhood love of Scooby-Doo, but a good haunted house story always gets my brain juices flowing. This is backed by science: a little bit of "fear" can help to spark your imagination (but don't be too afraid: this can actually make your brain smaller).
Every town seems to have a spooky graveyard, but a truly exquisite haunted place is the Chaukhandi tombs, near Karachi, Pakistan. This burial ground isn't like other haunted houses--it's not dark, dingy, or poorly lit. Rather, this one is intricately carved with beautiful drawings and created centuries ago. And according to the local legend, the tombs are particularly haunted at night (just like any good haunted place).
Staycation alternative: Can't get to Karachi? Find a local haunted house tour or hear a scary ghost story near you.
Inspiration's a beach
I may be an anomaly, but I'm not a beach person. Still, there's something about the feel of sand sifting through your hands and the ocean licking your feet that can calm even the most stressed startup founder. And just taking a walk along a beach--or down the street--can increase your creative ideas by 60 percent.
Want a beach that's a little bit different? Check out the lava-rich lagoons in Mauritius, an island off of Madagascar. According to local legend, Mark Twain described Mauritius as "heaven on Earth" and certainly even just looking at the photos is transcendent.
Staycation alternative: Want to find your slice of heaven a little bit closer? Check out the sand (or, err, dirt) in your own backyard or your local park.
Namaste for inspiration? Sometimes simply quieting your mind can enliven your spirit, and help you find your way back to your inspirational center. As you find your center, why not go to the center of the Earth and head to Ecuador. In Santo Domingo de los Colorados you will find the Tsáchila, an indigenous community, known for healing with a traditional Tsachila steam bath, as well as through food, storytelling, and community.
Staycation alternative: Sure, you can always find a local Yoga class, but you can also check out a nearby Zen garden, ashram, or Buddhist monastery. Not near one? Draw yourself a hot bath, light some aromatherapy candles, make yourself a piping pot of tea -- and just breathe.
Go back to the books
Even though I love gadgets and all things digital, I'll be the first to admit that I also love regular ol' books. After all, studies show reading can help to spark new worlds and open up perspectives. Since it's cold outside, that's all the more reason to curl up with a good book and stay overnight at a library. If you've always wanted to camp out in between bookcases, check out the Gladstone Library in London, a residential hotel where you can "sleep with the books." Want something in a warmer locale? Check out the library-inspired hotels in the Caribbean, Guatemala, Thailand, and Zambia.
Staycation alternative: Want to cozy up closer to home? Your local library is free and filled with plenty of pages for you to peruse.