Why Traveling is Good for Your Health
Updated April 10, 2018
Written by Henry Moore
Travel to a fresh perspective: The health benefits of getting away
The author Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote, “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Whether you see the world as a garden or a constraining daily grind is a matter of perspective. Sometimes, all we need is a change of scenery and new experiences to broaden our consciousness and help us see the world in a rosier context. Travel is a fun and healthy way to discover that all that stress doesn’t matter so much after all.
Taking time off is good for you, and it’s a great way to learn and grow. It’s a wonder that more of us don’t take full advantage of our paid vacation time. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that work is the most significant source of stress among American adults. Yet only 25 percent of us take all of our paid vacation time, and a surprising 42 percent take no vacation time at all. Clearly, Americans could stand to get away from it all more often.
If you’re paddling a canoe down a lazy river, laying on the beach, or waiting for the fish to bite, chances are your stress level is going to be pretty low. You just feel better.
That’s good for you, and it’s good for your whole family. Vacations not only reduce your stress, but they have a positive effect on relations between you and your loved ones. When you feel stress, so do they. When you’re feeling good, they share in it. That makes travel and vacation time family activities in the truest sense.
Organs in Harmony
Bet you never thought of vacation as a great way to keep your major organs healthy. The American Medical Association reports that men who take regular vacations are 32 percent less likely to die of heart disease than males who don’t take time for some “R & R.” The health stakes are just as high for women: those who vacation once every six years or less are eight times more likely to develop coronary problems than women who vacation every year. Vacation also stimulates the brain, which releases endorphins, a natural chemical that make you feel like you’ve got the world by the tail.
Memories for a Lifetime
The next best thing to taking a vacation is reminiscing with family and friends about vacations past. It’s a fun bonding activity that brings everyone together over shared memories. Reminiscing also plays an important role in identity development for preadolescents, who benefit from sharing what they remember about your family adventure. Best of all, it gets everyone excited about your next vacation!
Leisurely travel can also be therapeutic for people struggling with addiction and other life obstacles. A change in environment, if only for a brief time, can show addicts that they’re not alone in the world, and that there are others who have overcome what they’re experiencing (the power of perspective again). “Travel literally forces you to become more open-minded about yourself and your daily experiences. It is true self-help,” according to a recovering addict.
Just Think About It
Just thinking about going on vacation can make you feel better. In fact, many people believe that anticipation is the best part of the vacation experience, which, after all, may fall short of your expectations once it’s all over. When you’re planning, you’re anticipating a good time and a vacation you’ll always look back on fondly. Subjects in a Cornell University study experienced a marked increase in happiness just by planning their next vacation. So call your travel agent, redeem those frequent flier miles, and start planning.
Contributor: Henry Moore
About the author:
Henry believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.com.