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The Many Benefits of Travel

It’s that time of year when many of us start to feel a little restless. In addition to general restlessness, symptoms of “cabin fever” can include a decreased interest in work, an urge to get up and go and a general feeling of discontent with your current surroundings. The best remedy for cabin fever is to get out, explore and travel somewhere new. It seems that your body is actually trying to tell you something when those restless feelings begin to sneak in. Travel has been scientifically proven to be a healthy activity for your body and your mind. Here are nine ways that travel will enrich your life and better your health.

Travel Encourages Brain Fitness

Have you heard that in order to keep your brain sharp and to delay or prevent the onset of dementia, degenerative brain disease or even Alzheimer’s that you should do daily mental puzzles? The thought behind this theory is that when you expose your brain to a problem or situation that you have not encountered before that you are opening new pathways and making changes at a cellular level that will help keep your brain function strong. Travel works in a similar way to promote brain fitness. When you travel you are exposing yourself to new environments, new situations, new people and so much more. Your brain becomes challenged, in a good way, to adapt. Research shows that people who have enjoyed travel as a regular part of their lives enjoy strong mental fitness longer than those who choose to stay close to home. For maximum benefit, make a tradition of choosing a different destination each time you travel rather than returning to the same spot repeatedly.

Travel Makes Your Heart Healthy

There are two things about traveling to a new destination that make it exciting. The first is the opportunity to relax and let go of the stress that keeps you company at home, and the second is the opportunity to explore an entirely new environment. These two things together add up to one big benefit for your heart. When you are travelling, chances are you are more active than you are at home. There are unfamiliar streets to explore, local sights to be seen, perhaps trails to be walked or mountains to ski down. Whether you are normally an active person or not, travel will get you up and moving and this is great for your heart. A study that spanned a period of twenty years looked at the travel habits of a group of women and compared that data against the cardiovascular health of each participant. What they discovered was that women, who travelled once every six years or less, were at least eight times more likely to suffer from cardiac disease than those who made travel a semiannual event. Now, add in the fact that those who enjoy regular travel tend to suffer from less stress, which is a major a contributor to heart disease, and you can see just how necessary a little getaway really is.

Travel Boosts Your Immune System

One of the worst things about this time of year is that it seems like there is always some illness going around. At first thought, it might seem like travelling is the last thing you want to do when you immune system is already compromised by seasonal bugs. However, traveling can actually make you stronger and build your resistance to all types of communicable illnesses. When you travel, you are exposed to small amounts of new pathogens. When you are exposed to new pathogens, your body naturally builds up a resistance to them, making your immune system stronger than it was before the exposure. Just remember to keep yourself in the best possible health to begin with by following a nutritionally sound diet, practicing good hygiene and avoiding food and water that come from less than sanitary sources.  Additionally, if you are in some way immune compromised make sure to take any additional precautions that are required for your health.

Travel Pumps Up Your Fitness Routine

When you travel to an entirely new destination, there is so much to been seen and experienced. You might be an adventure seeker that builds a dream vacation around an exciting and challenging physical activity. Or you might be the more low key type who focuses travel around leisurely sightseeing. Regardless, chances are you are going to be moving your body more than usual and possible taking on new physical challenges. This helps to keep you healthy while you are away, but studies show that the extra physical activity that occurs while on vacation is likely to inspire a renewed sense of commitment to your fitness routine at home. You might be inspired by how great you few after a few days of wandering around a new town or your might set new fitness goals based on your vacation adventures.

Travel Is a Mood Booster

We all know that it is good to get away once in awhile, but the truth is that a little vacation might just be essential for your mental health. One study on vacationers noted that after just three days of traveling, most people feel less stress, anxiety and depression than they did before they left home. Additionally, they were able to maintain these mood boosting benefits for weeks after returning home. Even the act of planning a getaway results in increased feelings of happiness. There is just naturally a certain amount of stress and obligation that accompanies everyday life. Even if you love everything about your life, there is still stress and tension that builds up and needs to be let go of. Traveling is one way of releasing the stress, worry and other negative emotions that are a natural part of life. Nearly ninety percent of travelers say that they are able to let go of stress and feel a lightened sense of being and a more positive overall perspective.

Travel Changes Your Perspective

When you travel, there is a good chance that you are going to have experiences that just wouldn’t be possible on your home turf. You experience new situations, new surroundings, different people and their cultures. If you are like most people, these experiences will take you out of your comfort zone, at least a bit, and this is a very good thing. When you are mildly uncomfortable or feel a little unsettled, you have the opportunity to see things from a new perspective. Being able to experience new situations first hand can provide you with an entirely new point of view. Your senses become alive as you begin to see things you have never seen before or are taken aback by new sounds or scents. All of this opens up your world and broadens your perspective.  You might find that your own assumptions are challenged. All of this will not only make you a more open and receptive person, but it will also increase your ability to think through new or difficult situations and broaden your creative problem solving abilities.

Travel Releases Your Creative Spirit

What are you going to do with that new perspective of yours? For starters, you can use it to fuel your creative fire. When you travel to new places, the neural pathways in your brain are ignited by the fresh surroundings and experiences. This in turn causes an increase in the synapses that improve creativity. This might explain why many creative types seem to have a case of wanderlust. When you travel and have the opportunity to experience new things, your creative mind is opened to possibilities that it never knew existed. Even if you think you aren’t an artist, take the opportunity to try your hand at some creative exercise. Not only is it possible that you will discover a new, enjoyable pastime but creative outlets are good for your long term mental health as well.

Travel Helps You See That There Really Is No Place Like Home

No matter how wonderful your time traveling is, it is always nice to come home and rest your head on your pillow, in your bed, surrounded by all of the comforts of your own home. All of these things are often taken for granted until you spend some time away from them. When you travel you experience the excitement of the new, but you also realize the beauty in what you already have. You might travel to a less privileged society and be amazed at all of the comforts that you are accustomed to that are not accessible to them. Also, when you travel to new places and understand what it is like to navigate around an unfamiliar area and search for the little hidden local gems, you can carry that skill set back to your home town. People who travel regularly are more likely to discover the lesser known places in their own towns that are filled with character and local charm. Knowing of these places and visiting them frequently helps you feel connected to the place you call home and the people you share the community with.

Travel Helps You Connect with Mankind

There is nothing like going out and experiencing the world to let you know that you are not alone in it. When you expose yourself to different people with different customs and ways of thinking you begin to realize that through our differences we are all the same at the most basic of levels. We all have the same basic needs, we all experience the same range of emotions, and we all have experienced great joy and know what deep sadness feels like. When you experience cultural traditions that are different from your own, you gain respect and understanding of the way other people live their lives. The more people you expose yourself to, the more opportunity that you have to make friends, and there is a good chance that those friends will have very different life experiences than you. Travel broadens your perspective enough to allow you to see that there really isn’t much separating us from one another, we are all one small part of something much larger.

As you can see, travel is great medicine for your body and your spirit. Just remember to keep these healthy tips in mind when you decide to venture out and experience the world.

  • Research your destination and make yourself aware of any local health concerns. Protect yourself as necessary, including making sure that you are up to date on suggested or required immunizations.
  • Know what foods to enjoy and which foods to stay away from, including local water sources. Sometimes the locals of the area may be able to eat certain foods or drink the water because they have built up a resistance to the bacteria that it may contain. What they digest with ease might leave you very ill. When in doubt, drink bottled water and eat from places that have a good reputation with travelers.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Keep up your regular skin care routine, but also make adjustments for your new environment if necessary. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Get regular sleep and try to adjust to time changes as soon as possible.
  • Stay physically active

Travel is one of the richest life experiences that we can allow ourselves to have. Whether you travel for work or leisure, near or far, all travel has the potential to refuel your spirit and keep your body healthy. The next time you feel the urge to get away, stop making excuses and go enjoy the world and all of the beautiful experiences that it has to offer.

January 06, 2017 by Angela Irish