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5 Reasons Travel Is Great for Your Health

May 8, 2014

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I’ll go ahead and admit right up front that I am addicted to travel. Fortunately, travel is one of the healthiest things I could get hooked on! Globetrotting improves our lives in powerful ways, affecting us on emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels.

If you've had a restorative vacation or inspiring adventure abroad, you can relate to the sensation of total wellness that travel brings. And if you haven’t, that’s even more reason to pack up your suitcase!

Health Benefits of Travel

The benefits of succumbing to wanderlust are countless, and many are hard to capture in words, but here are the top 5 reasons I recommend booking a trip for your health.

1)    Travel helps you recharge and de-stress.

The instant we step off the plane and into a new place, we feel lighter and our minds let go. This mental transition can have a positive impact on our performance at work as well, as studies have shown that employees who take more time off are far more productive and healthier than those who don’t use their vacation days. Plus, according to Forbes, “not taking vacation has been found to correspond to increased chance of heart disease for both men and women. The cost of stress-related health care is estimated at $344 billion a year.” Taking the time to get away helps us relax and frees us from the constant stream of thoughts and to-do lists we experience in our daily lives. While this clear-headed feeling may not last indefinitely after a trip, it does hit the reset button in your brain and serve as a potent reminder to live mindfully and in the present moment.

2)    Travel helps you reconnect with what matters.

In our modern, go-go-go lives, it’s very easy to disconnect from the things that matter most: our partners, nature, our creative passions, our families. When we travel, we tap into these things. Things like hiking through mountains, swimming in the ocean, and walking barefoot along a beach allow us to appreciate nature. Similarly, planning a getaway with someone we love helps us reconnect with that relationship while also strengthening it through new shared experiences.

3)    Travel encourages spontaneity and self-discovery.

Chances are, you’re so caught up in your hectic schedule that you can’t remember the last time you tried something new. Travel can really help you get out of a rut and re-gain some of the spontaneity that gets lost in the daily grind of life. Being in a new place, and with more free time, gives us an opportunity to discover new things about the world and ourselves as we experience things for the first time. When I graduated from college, I visited Tokyo alone and learned so much about myself through exploring this very foreign, very beautiful city. I visited museums, temples, and shopping malls, learned to navigate a complex subway system, and found out a lot about myself through those experiences. When we try new things our bodies are filled with adrenaline and energy and we get a confidence boost along with a sense of achievement that we did something new.

4)    Travel exposes you to new cultures and perspectives.

The first time I traveled out of the United States, I was amazed by how different lives in other parts of the world could be—and I was right next door in Mexico! I love seeing how different cultures live, what they eat, how they spend their free time and how they interact with one another. In Bali, my husband and I were invited to have coffee with a family who grew vanilla in their backyard, an amazing experience that taught us so much about their way of life. What’s really incredible is to discover that, despite these lifestyle differences, humans are all remarkably similar, and we all share the same basic needs for food, shelter, expression, and love.

5)    Travel gives you a hands-on education.

Travel often brings you to parts of the world that have rich history and fascinating cultures. Although it’s impossible to remember everything you experience in one visit to ancient ruins or gothic cathedrals, the experience stays with us for a lifetime, and can help put historical events or current political situations in context. Travel also introduces us to new cooking techniques, exotic local produce, and dishes that we might otherwise never encounter! All of this information contributes to your overall knowledge as a global citizen of this Earth. My greatest learning experiences have all come from travelling.

How has travel improved your health? Please share your globetrotting stories in the comments below.