Traveling benefits us mentally, physically and emotionally, so you should definitely pack your bags and visit some places you’ve never been. But leave work at home!
Many people don’t travel frequently enough. And now, even when we try to get away, people increasingly bring work with them, attached by the internet and hand held devices that interrupt the “get away” in vacation. This is unfortunate because, as NBC reported in 2017, there are many scientifically validated benefits to traveling. According to a study published in the Hostelworld Global Traveler Report, Americans are half as likely as Europeans to travel abroad and visit another country.
Promotes Creativity: A good vacation helps us reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery that promotes creativity and wellbeing. In recent years, psychologists and have examined more closely what many of us have already learned through experience: traveling has the potential to affect mental change. In general, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how our brain is wired. The new sounds, smells, languages, flavors, and sensations in new locations can literally spark new synapses in our brains and therefore, revitalize the mind.
Prevents Burnout: Workers who take regular time off are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative (there’s that word again) and productive than their overworked, under-rested peers.
Keeps Us Physically Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, keeps stress levels lower, and therefore, keeps us healthier. Travel also exposes you to different environments, which can create stronger antibodies and boost your body’s immune system significantly. Antibodies are the little proteins that protect your immune system from harmful pathogens. In fact, research shows exposure to some dirt and minor illnesses actually keeps your body and gut stronger.
Strengthens Our Relationships: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones helps you enjoy them during good times, away from the stressors of everyday with long stretches to talk and play together. It also builds memories you’ll share together for a lifetime (including the funny vacation mishaps you’ll laugh about together–later).
Relieves Stress: Like a lot, a lot. This one might not come as a big surprise to you, but science has proven that travel will increase your happiness, decrease your depression, and chill you the out. A study found that three days after vacation, travelers felt well-rested, less anxious, and in a better mood. And these improvements didn’t disappear when they returned home, they lasted for weeks afterward. While not everyone is able to take a vacation, for those who can take several days or a few weeks off for a trip, even a short respite can be restorative. One study showed that a four-day “long weekend” vacation had positive effects on well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days. While the reduction in strain was greater for those who spent the vacation away from home, the other effects were similar for those who stayed home.
Where will your travels take you this year? Clearly, scientifically-backed health benefits of traveling the world should motivate us to get out more. Mentally, physically and emotionally, you can gain a lot from packing your bags and visiting places you’ve never been, and you don’t have to go far to reap the benefits. California has great places to visit, for example.