Transactive Memory and Travel

Transactive memory refers to those memories stored outside one’s own brain. So they can be stored in such technological devices as paper, computer, or the internet, or they can be stored in other individuals. Travel makes extensive demands on memory, so this post provides some ideas on how transactive memory can be effectively employed during travel.

For example, consider the trip to New York City, that my wife and I will be taking. There are a number of tasks that must be accomplished. The first is planning. We need to decide where to stay. Once that is decided, then we need to make the reservations. This is a responsibility that I take. I first discuss this with my wife and later, before actually making the reservations, I confirm them with my wife.

Another responsibility is transportation, how to get there. As my wife is the more frequent traveler to New York, she takes this upon herself. Of course, she discusses this with me, but she is the one who decides upon the mode of transportation and makes the reservations. She is responsible not only for transportation to and from New York City, but also for transportation within the city once we arrive. She does this because she is the more knowledgeable party.

Then we need to decide what to do while in New York. My wife, again being more knowledgeable of the city takes responsibility for the daytime activities. She is very knowledgeable about museums and the like. I take responsibility for the evening activities. We like to go to plays and I try to keep up to date on what is playing of potential interest. Of course, I consult with my wife before booking the shows we are going to attend.

Eating, we need to plan where to eat. Of course, all of this planning does not need to be done in advance. Some activities can be played by ear. But here, I trust the ear of my wife rather than my own.

Of course, technological transactive memory is also involved. Online resources are used to explore the alternatives and to make reservations. There are physical tickets and information on the reservations and the travel. The respective parties can be responsible for their respective holdings of physical transactive memory. This information can be held by both parties in the event that one party misplaces certain information. It is also possible to store this information online via email or some other source from which it can also be retrieved.

Regarding healthy memory in general, travel provides healthy exercise (both physical and mental). This post has already discussed some of the activities that are involved. And travel involves social interactions and new experiences that are also beneficial to healthy memory and effective aging.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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