The benefits of traveling

When you love doing something, it’s hard to imagine someone not wanting to do it, too.  If you love eating sushi, you might be startled to find out that I don’t like fish.  I don’t really like it cooked, and I certainly don’t like it raw.  I feel that way about traveling and vacationing.  It’s so much part of my life, it’s hard to imagine never doing it!

A recent study by OnePoll revealed that 11 percent of Americans (2,000 total respondents) have never left the state they were born.  40 percent have never left the country and over half the respondents had never owned a passport.  1 in 10 respondents said they had no interest in going anywhere.

This doesn’t surprise me necessarily, but it makes me want to discuss why you should want to travel.  I can give you countless reasons from my own personal experience, but before I do, I’d like to talk about some scientific reasons why you should.

Vacations can reduce stress and depression. 

A five-year study conducted in the late 1990s revealed that women who take vacations frequently were less likely to become tense, depressed or tired.  They’re also more satisfied with their marriage.

Vacations can reduce your risk of disease.

A study by the State University of New York Oswego found that yearly vacations reduced risk of early death by 20 percent and risk of death by heart disease by 30 percent.

Vacations can reduces your risk of heart attack.

The CDC found that women in a Framington Heart Study who took the least amount of vacation time were 8 times more likely to have a heart attack that women who took at least two vacations a year.

Vacations can strengthen your relationship with your partner.

A survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association showed that couples who travel together are significantly more likely to be satisfied in their relationships, communicate well with their partners, enjoy romance, have a better sex life, spend quality time together and share common goals and desires.

Vacations can increase overall happiness.

Vacation anticipation has been found to be one of the best parts of a vacation.  Just knowing you’re going on a trip can increase your overall happiness.  A study found that those waiting to go on a trip were happier with their life as a whole, experienced less negative feelings and enjoyed an overall positive effect of pleasant feelings.  One study found that spending money on “doing” was more likely to provide lasting happiness than spending money on material objects.  In other words, experiences over owning objects provided happiness.

Vacations boost your creativity, help you not burn out at work and actually make you more productive.

There have been multiple studies completed about how those who take vacations come back more motivated, and give their brain a rest from overwork. Harvard Business Review said that in their research they found that spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.

Traveling can improve cognitive flexibility and how the mind is able to jump between different ideas.

A professor at Columbia Business School did research on the benefits of travel and how it effects the brain.  His 2010 study showed that experiencing and adapting to other cultures “increases awareness of underlying connections and associations.”  In other words, it helps you understand people other than just yourself.

 

These are just some of the reasons why vacations and traveling are good for you.  These studies don’t conclude how long a vacation needs to be.  Many of these people went on a 1-2 day vacation, and still saw results from the trip.  Bottom line is, we need a break.  And when we don’t take breaks, the results are not good.

From my own personal experience, traveling has changed my perspective, given me time to reflect on what’s important, opened my eyes to how others live in the world and given me memories I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

  • My desire to live modestly is due to seeing how many people live contently with so much less than I have.  I have learned to be content through that process.  I’ve learned you need very little to survive.
  • My relationship with my husband has strengthened through traveling together  When we both have moments to reflect on life and what’s important, it’s lead to life-changing conversations.  Our life has changed courses through these times.
  • Some of my greatest breakthroughs emotionally have been on vacations.  I’ve been pushed to my breaking point many times, and its forced me to learn how to push through.  I’ve also learned things about myself I probably never would have learned if I wasn’t outside my comfort zone.
  • I’ve seen God through traveling.  He is so much bigger than I thought.  Seeing “His” cathedral in Yosemite is enough to stop you in your tracks.  It’s enough to silence you and help you realize you know so much less than you thought you knew.  I’ve seen people worship in small churches, big cathedrals and in their homes.  People worship God in so many different ways, and there is no “one size fits all” version of Christianity.  He’s able to cross cultures, boundaries, languages, genders and stereotypes.

My advice to you is to take a trip.  You won’t regret it.  Your emotional and mental health will benefit, our relationships will benefit and so you benefit from it.

Have you personally experienced any benefits from traveling?

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