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Why Crosswords Make Great Travel Companions

Traveling is a fantastic way to get more life experience, make more memories, and really make the most of your life. Whether you travel regularly (and perhaps that’s all you do, working as a ‘digital nomad’ to have enough money to continue your travel adventures for as long as you want to) or you only go on a vacation once every few years, it’s often not the travel itself that’s exciting - it’s the adventure once you arrive.

That can put people off traveling because they’re worried about the journey; a long plane ride or a boat trip isn’t exciting, and if you’ve got nothing to do for hours on end, it won’t fill you with joy.

But who says you’ll have nothing to do for hours on end? If you prepare well in advance, you’ll be able to make sure you’ve got a lot of things to do, and if you’re really savvy about those things, they’ll include crossword puzzles. It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but read on to discover exactly what crosswords make great travel companions, and you’ll soon see why packing them or having access to them on a mobile device is exactly the right thing to do.

Portable Entertainment

When it comes to traveling, you don’t want to pack too much (although you probably will because most people do), and however much you do pack, you don’t want to run out of space because you’ve thrown so much entertainment in your bag to stave off your boredom during the journey. So what’s the plan? What can you do? You need to find some portable entertainment that doesn’t take up much space - and that’s where crosswords come in.

A crossword puzzle book is a good start; it won’t take up much space at all, and you’ll easily fit it in with the rest of your hand luggage. Add a pen, and you’re good to go; you’ll be happily entertained for hours at a time, working out the cryptic clues and keeping your brain active and alert for the whole journey. Whether you’re going on a cross-country road trip, heading from one busy airport to another, or even jolting around in a crowded train carriage, one little book and a pen really aren’t going to cause any issues.

To make things even more convenient, of course, you can complete your crosswords online. Find a great site that’s full of the things, and you won’t need a book or pen at all - you’ll just need a mobile device like a phone or tablet (and you’ll probably have that with you anyway, so there’s no extra packing involved) and you can start. Of course, you’ll need to bear in mind that on a plane, you might not be able to access the internet without paying for wifi, but even with this extra cost, the fact that online crossword puzzles can keep you occupied for hours at a time and prevent boredom is well worth it.

Don’t forget that you can also use this special kind of portable entertainment when you arrive at your destination as well. There will be times when you need to wait for things like a cab, a table at a restaurant, or for your friends and family to get ready to go out - having quick, convenient access to puzzles that will amuse you for a while as you wait is fantastic; there’ll never be a dull moment in your entire trip if you make sure you’ve always got them to hand.

Mental Stimulation

So… traveling is wonderful one hundred percent of the time, right? There’s no hanging about, no long stretches of doing nothing, it’s always go, go, go, right? Of course not, and, when you think about it, it shouldn’t be all movement and mayhem either; at least some of the point of getting away from work and responsibilities for a while is so you can relax. The issue is that some people find it hard to relax, and that can mean at least some of their trip doesn’t feel so brilliant - they’re bored, and that’s not a great way to spend your vacation.

That’s why you need to make sure you’ve got options when it comes to mental stimulation. If you’re feeling bored when you’re in your hotel room or lying on a sunny beach somewhere, you can try to get over it and just accept that there’s nothing to do, or you can stimulate your brain and let your body rest - what sounds better? In the end, it will be your choice, but if you like the idea of being occupied at all times (or at least having the option), then don’t forget about the whole vast array of crosswords you can dive into.

Solving crossword puzzles takes a combination of logic, memory, and pattern recognition (as well as some overall general knowledge, of course), and as you read the clues to work out how to fill in the blanks, ensuring that each answer isn’t just correct, but that it fits with the answers you’ve already put in place, you’ll be giving your brain quite the workout. This keeps your mind sharp, which is great, but it also gives you a welcome break from the more passive activities you might be doing, like lying on a beach under the warm sun or resting in your hotel room, for example.

One of the best things about crosswords is that they give you a better vocabulary - how can they not when you’re reading things all the time and learning new words when you come up with (or get help with) the answers? Every puzzle is going to teach you something new, and that can help you when you’re traveling because the better your vocabulary, the easier it will be for you to be understood, which means you’ll have more fun and get more done. But what if you picked a crossword puzzle that was in a different language - the language of wherever it is you’ve traveled to? Although it would be much harder to solve, could there be any better way to learn at least a few useful phrases to help you engage with locals better and enjoy your trip even more?

You Can Be Alone - Or Not

You’ll usually do crossword puzzles alone - that’s the traditional idea, and that’s exactly why they’re so good when you’re traveling (among other reasons, obviously). Sound strange? We’ll explain. Not everyone travels with friends and family; some people love solo travel because they can do more, they can plan things themselves, and they can really explore in the way they want to, learning not just about where they’re going but who they are. For those who are feeling a little lost in life or perhaps those who aren’t lost at all but who just prefer their own company, traveling alone can be exactly the right thing to do. And since crosswords are perfect for doing by yourself, they’re perfect for traveling with - they can be the only companion you need by your side, whether you tackle them online or in a book. You don’t have to be with anyone or talk to anyone, and you can really enjoy just being by yourself.

In fact, having your crosswords with you can be an ideal shield to keep yourself to yourself when you need some of that crucial alone time to unwind. If you’re clearly focusing on a puzzle, it’s unlikely people will come and disturb you as they might if you were listening to music, reading a book, or just enjoying the sunshine and the view. If you want to keep your solo trip solo, a good crossword puzzle selection can be the ideal way to do it.

But then… the other great thing about crosswords and another fantastic reason why they’re so good when it comes to travel is that you don’t have to do them alone. They can be the perfect way for a group of friends or loved ones to come together and have some fun when they’re back in their hotel room or villa, having to sit together on a long journey, or they need a break from the nothing activity of sunbathing - and other similar scenarios.

There’s more to this idea as well! Say you are traveling alone, but you want to make some friends, and you’re not sure how to break the ice - could a crossword puzzle be the answer? If you’re around other people and you want to start a conversation, casually asking if anyone can help with a tricky crossword clue could be the perfect place to start; you’ll get everyone wanting to join in and be the one who solves the challenge, and you can take the conversation from there once you’ve got people chatting about what the answer is. As an extra bonus, you’ll be able to finish your puzzle, which will give you a huge sense of accomplishment.

No More Stress

You won’t want to think about it too much (or at all, probably) because your vacation or travel plans are meant to be all about having fun and relaxing, and they’re not meant to be stressful at all, but guess what? When was the last time you traveled without feeling stressed? The answer is probably back when you were a child - when your parents handled all the travel arrangements, and you just got to have a good time.

Unfortunately, there will always be some parts of traveling that are stressful, and even if you come home feeling less stressed than when you went (which is always the ideal scenario), those stressful moments are going to be tricky to deal with. The last thing you want is for any form of stress over delayed flights or unpleasant hotel rooms or fully booked excursions to ruin your time away, so what can you do? The answer is that you’ll need to find ways to de-stress while you’re on vacation - which is clearly what you’re meant to be doing in general, but you might need some extra help, depending on the circumstances you find yourself in.

It might not come as a surprise considering the topic we’re talking about, but did you know that crosswords can be a great way to de-stress? It’s true; a good crossword puzzle can help you with the stress of trying to make your way through unfamiliar airports and security lines, they can ensure you’re better able to cope with unpredictable delays, and they can calm you when you’re worried about what you might be missing out on at home or work (which is a real thing that can ruin a vacation even though it’s not important in the least).

The great thing about crosswords is that they offer a mindful distraction. What does that mean? Well, when you’re being mindful, it means you’re only focusing on the present and not worrying about the past or the future, and that means you’re less stressed (exactly because you’re not worrying about the past or the future, which includes what might be happening at home without you!). In other words, when you’re working out a crossword puzzle, you’ll be able to essentially escape (at least temporarily) from the stressful situation you find yourself in. When you’re done with the puzzle and come back to ‘real life’, the hope is that you’ll be so much calmer and at peace that whatever was worrying you before isn’t an issue anymore - you’ll either have a solution, or you’ll realize it wasn’t worth thinking about in the first place.

This isn’t just an idea that has no basis in fact; studies have shown that doing something mindful and fun, exactly like solving crossword puzzles, makes your brain release endorphins into your bloodstream, and endorphins are the body’s natural mood enhancers - feeling grumpy and out of sorts because you’re stressed and tired after traveling? Do a crossword puzzle, and you’ll soon be back to normal!

You Can Learn Things

We already mentioned how crosswords can help you learn new words that might give you a better chance of being understood if you’re away from home (especially if those words happen to be in the language of wherever you are), but that’s not all you’ll learn from crosswords, and it might be that, if you pick the right puzzle or set of puzzles, it can really enhance your travels.

It might be that the clues revolve around famous landmarks that you’ll be visiting, for example, or traditional food and drink, or historical figures… the list goes on. All you have to do is choose the right puzzle to begin with, so you’re faced with clues that link back to wherever it is you’re traveling - or wherever you want to travel because doing a crossword about a place can be a fantastic way to learn more about it before you decide to go there - and you’ll learn a whole lot before you even step foot in a new land. You’ll find you easily absorb important information almost without realizing it because you’re having fun with your puzzle, but that information will definitely enhance your trip and make you aware of so much that you might have missed otherwise - and all from a ‘simple’ crossword puzzle (these puzzles really shouldn’t ever be underestimated!).

Easy To Fit Into Your Schedule

How long do you need to solve a crossword puzzle? The answer is probably like answering the age-old ‘How long is a piece of string?’ question, but in the end, when you’re doing your crosswords while you travel and when you’re on vacation, the answer doesn’t really matter.

The great thing about a crossword puzzle is that it’s so easy to fit into your schedule, no matter what you’re doing. If you’ve got a full-on day with lots of excursions and appointments and it’s really busy, you might only have a few minutes here and there to work on your puzzle - and that’s fine. If you have an ‘empty’ day when you don’t have any plans other than to relax (always a good thing, as we’ve mentioned before - but it’s worth mentioning again because it really is important), then you’ll have potentially hours at a time to solve your puzzle (or puzzles, if you’ve got that much time to dedicate to crosswords) - and that’s fine too. That’s the beauty of crossword puzzles; they fit perfectly into any schedule, and when you’re traveling, and you might not know what your schedule is from day to day, that’s comforting to know.

Final Thoughts

Crosswords and traveling… even if you hadn’t thought much about the two things together before, hopefully, this blog has given you a bit of an insight into how well the two can work and exactly why crosswords can be your ideal travel companion. From staving off the boredom of a long journey to giving you useful information about where you’re traveling to (and perhaps even some hints at what to say when you get there), there’s nothing that can match a crossword when it comes to simple travel pleasures.


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