Ever wonder why people take to travel in order to find themselves?
Wild; Eat, Pray, Love; Down the Nile; Now is the Time to Open Your Heart—there’s a reason books and movies about self-discovery through travel sell. It’s the same reason that the most adventurous of people always seem to be the most carefree.
With research emerging on how travel positively affects one’s physical and mental health, it’s no longer seen as a luxury—rather as a necessary wellness ritual.
Traveling to different parts of the world helps us to get outside of our own heads and open up our hearts and minds to new people, new mindsets, new experiences, and new ways of life. It allows us to adopt practices from other cultures that can positively influence our lives.
After reading about these 8 reasons why travel will enhance your life, you may just find you’ll want to pack a bag and book the next flight out.
1. Travel Reduces Stress
While “staycations” are a great idea once in a while for some much-needed downtime, there really is no better way to de-stress than to get away from home. As long as you’re home, there will be things to worry about—laundry, dishes, emails, or errands. You can’t really get away from the daily stresses of life unless you actually get away.
After just one day in a foreign place, you may find that your stress and anxiety are reduced dramatically. Going on vacation gives you much-needed meditation and reflection time so that you can return home fully relaxed and anxiety-free. Furthermore, studies show that those good feelings you have while on vacation linger for weeks or months after your getaway has ended.
2. It Helps You to Gain a New Perspective
When you’re caught up in your work, home, family, and friends, it may be difficult to see how many things are going on around you in the world. Breaking away from your comfort zone has many benefits. It allows you to view yourself in a different light and to observe and participate in different cultures and mindsets. You may even find yourself wanting to adopt certain ways of being.
Many people will experience enlightening thoughts while traveling because they feel somewhat detached from their lives, allowing them to look at life more objectively.
3. It Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Traveling is a heart-healthy activity for two reasons. Even if you’re planning on lying around on the beach all day, traveling requires quite a bit of physical exertion. Whether it’s rushing through an airport, exploring the streets of a new city, or hiking through the wilderness, you’re bound to get your heart rate up during your trip.
Also, since traveling is a great way to relieve stress, it can help to bring your blood pressure down—another factor that is vital for your physical health.
4. Travel Boosts Creativity
Experts say that traveling can make you more creative, and there’s a scientific explanation. A person’s ability to think creatively or “outside the box” is related to neuroplasticity—the way in which the brain is wired to think. New experiences spark synapses in the brain that “wake up” the mind.
Foreign experiences increase cognitive flexibility—which is the mind’s ability to jump between ideas. But there’s a caveat. It’s not enough to just get on a plane and sit around on the beach and in the hotel room of a foreign country. The key is in multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. The more you immerse yourself in different cultures, the more your creativity will flourish.
5. It Makes You More Resilient
People who travel are faced with problems they would never have had if they had stayed home. Being forced to problem-solve at a moment’s notice with only the bag on your back makes a person more flexible, patient, and strong. It also forces you to break out of your comfort zone by speaking a language you barely know, communicating with complete strangers, navigating new territory, and relying only on the tools you brought. You’ll also be forced to bounce right back and come up with a solution on your own if something goes wrong.
In other words, traveling toughens you up.
Once you’ve overcome these hurdles, you will realize that they weren’t actually as scary as you thought they would be. This realization allows you to open up your mind to new experiences and try things that may at first seem scary or overwhelming.
6. It Makes You More Adventurous
It may seem obvious that going on an adventure would make you more adventurous—but often the adventurousness of traveling can have an impact on your sense of adventure in your daily life.
If you’re a creature of habit, you may be inclined to stick to the same route to get to work every day, eat more or less the same foods every week, go to the same restaurant for dinner every so often, and talk to the same people day in and day out.
After traveling to a foreign place, you may find that the sense of adventurousness you experienced away from home spills into your daily life. Maybe you’ll find a different route to work, stop in at a small family-run cafe, try out their chai latte instead of your usual coffee, and make a new friend. You never know what will happen when you change up your routine.
7. It Makes You Happy
Traveling can boost your happiness and satisfaction as well as lifting depression and anxiety. Even just planning a trip can lift your mood and give you something to look forward to when you feel like the days are dragging on.
Going outside into the wide world will make you feel fulfilled, especially if you’re immersing yourself in the culture, learning and experiencing new things. When you stay locked in your routine and can’t seem to get away from work, your mental health will suffer.
8. Traveling Strengthens Bonds
When you’re burnt out and you don’t even have the energy to care for yourself, how could you possibly care for others?
Traveling allows you to carve out time for yourself to meditate and reflect as well as building up mental resilience. You’ll come back from vacation a more patient, satisfied, and happy person. When your mental health is thriving, you’re better equipped to give in any relationship, be it with a spouse, a parent, a child, a co-worker, or a friend.
When you travel with someone, you can bet that your bond will be strengthened. Shared experiences bring people together and give them something to reminisce about—something special that only they share.
There is so much to gain from breaking away from your routine once in a while. Plan a big vacation once or twice a year and a few small vacations (think weekend getaway) throughout the year, and your physical and mental health will benefit.