Ahhh, your feet are up, the sun is shining and there is new scenery to enjoy and to explore. You feel relaxed. You feel happy. You feel eager to explore and to enjoy each day. You're on a trip! Is there something more than just a perceived benefit to traveling? Can our health truly benefit just from driving or jetting to a different part of the world? Granted, preparing for a trip isn't always a walk on the beach, but there is some pretty strong evidence to suggest that recreational travel can boost your mood and your health.
Much of the health benefits have to do with managing our stress hormones. The demands of life can certainly take a toll on our physical, mental and emotional health. When we experience sustained levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), our body will take a hit and we are at a higher risk for chronic disease and ailments. Taking a trip to a new state or country (or even a walk in a new neighborhood) allows us a chance to reset those levels and to enjoy the novelty of experiencing a new environment.
Traveling allows us time to relax, to soothe worries and concerns and to step back and think about problems we may be facing in a new light. Traveling essentially provides us with the ability to step away from the routine cares and stresses of life.
The great news? You don't have to be sitting on the beach to realize these benefits. Even long after the trip has ended, the improved quality of life continues on! In fact, researchers have seen stress levels stay low for more than 5 weeks after the end of the vacation! The great reset as well as the good memories of the vacation can sustain us for quite some time. What a great stress management tool!
Another cool benefit to travel is those who participate in this pastime often see a boost in creativity. Research from the American Psychological Association shows that those who have spent time abroad have higher creative tendencies than their non-traveling counterparts. This is often because travel exposes us to new ideas, people and experiences thereby broadening our perspective.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to go far or spend a lot of money to reap the health benefits of travel. Even a small weekend trip or a simple way to change scenery can help boost your overall well-being. Are you convinced yet? Ready to book that Caribbean island trip you've been eyeing? Go for it! You'll be less stressed, more creative and a better employee and version of yourself.