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Does Travel Improve Your Health?

While travel sounds exciting, for many people it also brings with it a sense of doubt and concern. This uneasiness typically stems from health concerns. Illnesses such as COVID-19, Malaria, Dysentery and other communicable diseases can be a worry. Then there’s the fact that you’ll have to change your every day habits, which can mean having to eat different foods, miss out on your regular exercise and having to do different activities. Travel can also mean planning, lots of organisation and relying on others, which can remove your control over what happens.

All of these factors when added together can make many people change their mind about going anywhere. Fortunately, travelling, whether this be a one-day road trip or wandering off to some remote area for weeks, can have amazing health benefits, even if you have a relatively sedentary holiday in mind.

But why?

Let’s look at how travel helps you both mentally and physically now.

Reason #1 Travel Makes You Happier

Happiness Is Powerful: Image By Victoria Quirk

How many activities in your life genuinely make you happier than travel? Chances are, not many. Sure you may enjoy shopping, going out for dinner and meeting up with friends or getting a job promotion and buying that new car that you’ve had your eye on for some time. You may even hope that you’ll meet that special someone, and this will make you feel happier than you ever have ever been.

But in life that’s rarely how it works. Happiness is a feeling that comes from within. You create your own happiness by doing activities that give you a sense of freedom and remove you from everyday reality so you have a chance to breathe and enjoy your surroundings without the pressure of daily life and the expectations of others weighing heavily on you.  

Travel, allows you to experience such happiness because it’s an all-consuming experience that make you feel more alive and in touch with your surroundings. It takes your mind off our work and your home life and allows you to experience reality on your own terms and at your own pace. Travel allows you to relax, without you constantly having to worrying about what you have to do next.

For some, travel is the only time when they feel they’re able to enjoy their life. They get to unwind and leave their other responsibilities behind. Sometimes, work can make it impossible to appreciate the life you have to the point where it detracts from happiness. However, by taking time-out to travel, you get to remove that sense of urgency, which often comes with additional stress, so you can recharge and feel refreshed.  

Reason #2 Travel Promotes Physical Activity

Travel also gets you moving like you’ve never moved before. Think about it. What do you do daily?

You drive your car to work and then home again. You park as close as you can to the entrance. You have become adept at reducing the amount of physical activity that you have to do.

But when you travel, you want to explore. Often, many of the areas you want to see cannot be reached by vehicle. So, driving is not an option. Depending on where you are, often your only choice is to walk, cycle or kayak.

Travel can also incorporate physical. For instance, you might book a tour of a national park, which means hours, possibly days of hiking through the wilderness. These types of travel tours, like ski trips and other adventures, help you to burn far more calories than you would while sitting at your desk back at the office.  

People often believe that travel is sedentary because of the time it can take to get to destinations (such as the 5 hours spent in a car to get to the national park). But they forget about all of the walking around, swimming and cycling that they do when they reach their travel destination. Most vacationers are active for at least six hours per day—enough to build up a big appetite. 

Reason #3 Travel Improves Creativity

If you’re a creative type of person, then travel may revive your vision, restore your mojo and allow you to see the world differently. This phenomenon typically occurs because you’ve awakened your senses and stimulated your brain. Plus, you’ve removed yourself from your everyday environment and you’re exploring the world around you, which can give you ideas. 

When you travel, take as many pictures as you can. Then learn how to import photos from iPhone to Mac so you can continue using them later for inspiration. Research from Northwestern University shows that multicultural experiences foster the expansion of ideas. When people travel to new places, it opens their brain receptors to receive new experiences and want to experience different cultures. Consequently, their headspace changes and this gets them out of their everyday rut. 

Reason #4 Travel Relieves Stress

Laughter Is The Best Medicine: Image By Priscilla Du Preez

Sometimes getting from A to B can be stressful, especially if you haven’t planned your trip all that well. But this is associated more with your level of organisation, rather than travelling itself. To overcome this spend time in the lead-up to your trip organising where you’ll go, how you’ll get there and how long your stay in each location. Forethought will enable you to enjoy travelling even more. And it will make the euphoria last longer too. 

Researchers, for instance, tested the stress levels of people who went on two-week vacations overseas. They measured their anxiety while they were away and then continued collecting data when they got home. They found that the stress-relieving properties of a holiday persisted even after their official break ended and they were back at work. Travel, therefore, seemed to reset their stress levels to baseline, making it easier for them to cope with their jobs and family situations. 

Reason #5 Travel Reduces Heart Disease Risk

High blood pressure, heart disease and stroke are the biggest killers. But travel may help to prevent these illnesses. How? By positively affecting the body’s chemistry.

For instance, when people feel less stressed, their blood pressure tends to go down. They also have less inflammation running through their bodies which helps to reduce heart disease. 

Studies even back up these wild assertions. Evidence from investigators finds that people who travel at least twice per year reduce their risk of heart disease by 30 percent and their risk of death by 20 percent. 

So, the answer to the question is, ‘Yes, travel does improve your health.’ Sure, you might eat some richer food than you normally would. You may even sit for longer on your way to your travel destination. But mentally and physically speaking, the benefits of travel are significant. And if you can combine travel with the basics—such as eating well and moving more — then these benefits are going to be even greater.

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