Our nomad ancestors used to travel hundreds of miles a year, looking for food, shelter, and a haven. Now we travel for similar reasons, although now we do it for leisure, it is also an amazing way of expanding our view, ideas and knowledge. The benefits of traveling and taking time off have been widely proven throughout scientific research. I am sure you have experienced the benefits of disconnecting from a usual routine. Now let’s take a look at a few of the benefits.
One study from Framingham Heart Studies Organization published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that women who would travel at least twice a year had a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease or heart attack compared with those who would only be able to travel once in every six years.
The same is true for men. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and a 30 percent greater risk of heart disease.
Traveling means meeting new people and exploring new places, our mind gets a chance to relax from a normal routine. We get to explore and learn new things, meet new perspectives and get a broader idea of new cultures, customs, and even humanity itself.
A healthy way of practicing mindfulness while getting to know new places, we unconsciously change and become more open to a world of infinite flavors, sounds and sights.
When we travel, we move more often than usual! We get to hike in between lush forests, maybe a bike ride through less-traveled roads, kayaking on a vast ocean, or a calm river! Activeness is the key, we move more than usual, and we relax more than usual, an amazing way to reward our body after the boring routine of everyday life. Traveling is an investment and a way of keeping our bodies healthy!
Getting exposed to the different realities and situations gives us an insider's perspective. Trying new flavors through local cuisine, taking a dance lesson for local dance, finding a new word and meaning, discovering a new way to say hello! It all breaks the boundaries in which we live. Being exposed to many ways of living also gives us a way to find our colors and textures along the way.
Not only does traveling help with our creativity, but it also enhances our cognitive ability, sometimes referred to as general intelligence. This ability includes the capacity to “reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience” (Plomin, 1999). These attributes are all connected to travel. The more you travel, the wiser you become. Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, has stated “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.”
Not only do we get to discover a new part of the world, we get to meet new people and also understand their perspectives through how they live. We get to laugh with strangers that become friends, even family. We get to share stories, food, and even hardships. If we are lucky enough, able to help in a local cause or get to volunteer in a small event. Every single experience not only teaches us about our differences but also how similar we are regardless of economical, social, religious, or political beliefs.
Regarding this advantage of traveling, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, an associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California, says “What a lot of psychological research has shown now is that the ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your social comfort zone, is helping you to build a strong and acculturated sense of your own self.”
Apart from the outlook we get from traveling, we also find a moment to see ourselves outside our home, comfort zones, and everyday life. The self-discovery process is where you get to experience and put in perspective what is important, how you act, and who you are. You get to try new foods, new hobbies, and new conversations, meeting a stranger who gives you advice, a friend who makes you part of their family. In the end, all these experiences give us a chance to reinvent ourselves and find new values in life.
Not only do we relax while we travel, but we also become smarter, more open, and confident! Take some time for yourself and others, explore and get to discover new destinations, in the process, you'll get healthier and may add some extra years to keep traveling! Don’t be afraid to try new flavors, dance to a new sound, learn a new language, get a new home away from home. While you are at it, add new skills, knowledge, and even experience! Investing in traveling is investing in a healthier, happier life.
Where to next?