Do you travel with your nose? The question may at first be off-putting, but hear me out. According to Rachel Herz, a neuroscientist at Brown University and an expert on the psychological science of smell, of the five senses, scent is the only one directly linked to the memory and emotional learning centers of the brain.
“This makes the sense of smell really unique with respect to how we experience the world around us,” says Herz. “Our experience of scent is inherently emotional and visceral because of this neural organization.” This revelation has shifted into a travel trend you’ll likely see more of this year.
Museums, hotels, and fragrance experts host smell-based adventures
If you’ve been looking for a unique yet effective way to connect with the destinations you travel to, booking a scent tour might be it. In 2022, the Louvre in Paris debuted an olfactory tour connected to its still-life collection. The Museo del Prado in Madrid hosted a scent exhibit inspired by Jan Brueghel’s paintings of “The Five Senses.”
The Amsterdam Museum launched the self-guided “City Sniffers: A Smell Tour of Amsterdam’s Ecohistory,” including a scratch-and-sniff map of scents throughout history. And the recent “Follow Your Nose” tour at Museum Ulm in Germany pairs artworks featuring food, flowers, and other odorous things, with reconstructed scents in handheld scent diffusers.
Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes picks fragrant botanicals from its garden to create tinctures for cocktails. And in recent years, hotels have been pumping out signature fragrances to connect guests with their brand.
Have you tried “smellwalking”?
There’s even walking tours dedicated to scents. Dr. Kate McLean leads “international public smellwalks and translates the resulting data using digital design, watercolor, animation, scent diffusion, and sculpture into smellscape mappings.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be on the hunt for such experiences on my travels this year…