There's no doubt that traveling can be a lot of fun. But did you know that it can also have some amazing benefits for your mental and physical health? Here are just a few of the ways that traveling can make you happier, healthier, and more creative.
1) Traveling improves your mental and physical health
In this joint study, researchers found that women who vacationed at least twice a year had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who vacationed every six years or less.
The study also found that men who did not vacation at least once annually were 30% more likely to develop heart disease.
This is a lot to take in, of course, but this is also just one sample group and one study. Never traveling doesn't necessarily mean you'll live a less healthy life. It just means you're not reaping the benefits of travel that other people are, including improved happiness and physical health.
So get out there and start exploring!
2) Traveling can strengthen your immune system
One study found that exposing your body to germs that live in foreign soil can help boost your T-cells and reduce your risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
That said, please be safe. Don't put yourself in any unnecessary danger like exposing yourself to a virus. And please, please don't "eat dirt," as the headline in the linked article suggests!
However, do consider getting out of your comfort zone, grounding yourself in the earth, and letting your body mingle with different kinds of microbes.
3) Travel can boost your confidence and self-esteem
Another traveling benefit is the positive effect it can have on your confidence and self-esteem.
When you travel, you're constantly putting yourself in new situations and meeting new people. This forces you to step out of your comfort zone, which can be a major confidence booster.
Moreover, traveling gives you a chance to conquer obstacles and do things you never thought possible like successfully navigating a foreign city or climbing a mountain. These accomplishments can do wonders for your self-esteem, making it one of the best benefits of traveling.
4) Traveling enhances your creativity
If you're feeling stuck in a creative rut, then this traveling benefit is for you.
According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, "foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms."
In other words, international travel and creativity are connected. Traveling can help you see things from different perspectives and come up with more creative solutions.
Mind you, staying in a five-star hotel probably won't get you to think as creatively as staying in a treehouse in the Amazonian rainforest. Nor will partying in Vegas give you the same creative boost as exploring ancient Incan ruins with locals.
If you're looking to enhance your creativity, be sure to seek out unique experiences, such as curated travel or gap-year getaways. Aim for the truly transformative and the benefits of traveling will follow.
5) Travel can improve your communication skills
One of the most important traveling benefits is the way it can improve your communication skills.
We don't just mean learning how to say "please" and "thank you" in different languages (though that's important, too). When you travel, you're constantly communicating with people who come from different cultures and speak different languages. This forces you to find alternative ways to communicate, whether it's through body language, gestures, or even just a smile.
As a result, you become better at understanding and relating to people from other cultures, which is an incredibly valuable skill (and traveling benefit) to have in today's globalized world.
6) Traveling Helps You Understand Yourself Better
Another benefit of traveling is that it allows you to take a step back from your everyday life and gain some much-needed introspection. This is especially useful in a post-pandemic world where mental health matters more than ever.
When you travel, you're away from the familiar comforts of home. This can be disorienting at first, but it eventually allows you to see yourself from a new perspective.
You might find that you're more adaptable than you thought, or that you're braver than you realized. Or you might simply come to a greater understanding of what you want out of life.
There are different ways to practice introspection, but one of the best is to keep a travel notebook or journal. Writing about your experiences is a great way to slow down your thoughts and reflect on what you're feeling. That's the gist of it: By slowing down, you can seize the time you need to understand yourself better.
7) Anticipating travel can have a positive effect on your daily life
Finally, one of the best traveling benefits is that you don't even need to leave home to reap the rewards. Just anticipating a trip can have a positive effect on your day-to-day life.
A study published in the Association for Psychological Science found that thinking about an upcoming vacation can lead to increased happiness and decreased stress levels. To quote the abstract directly: "People derive more happiness from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good."
Can you relate to this feeling or know someone who does?
Think about it: How many times have you been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, daydreaming about your next trip? Or gone home after a long day at work, only to stare wistfully at the postcard from Lisbon that's been clinging to your refrigerator magnet for months? Some people might say that an upcoming trip is the only thing getting them through tough times.
So, if time and resources permit, why not always have a trip to look forward to? That way, you can enjoy the traveling benefits even when you're not on the road.
By the way, it doesn't have to be an extravagant, international getaway. Sometimes the anticipation of a weekend camping trip or a day spent at the beach is all you need to reap the traveling benefits your adventurous heart deserves.
And who knows? Maybe one day, that trip will turn into something more. After all, the best journeys often begin with a single step. Or in this case, a single daydream.
The Many Benefits of Traveling With Gravel Travel Gear
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And for more information about travel hacks, packing tips, and more, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.