There’s been many times in my life when I’ve just needed to travel – it felt like the only thing I could do at that point in time to preserve my body, mind and soul. For example (and we’ve all been there)…
Splitting up with my first love, check.
Not getting that job I’d worked so hard for, check.
Experiencing unmanageable levels of anxiety, check.
All reasonable reasons to go explore the world and now all justified, thanks to a large number of studies, psychologists and scientists. So, here’s 8 reasons why you need to ask for that sabbatical, take that grown-up gap year or just have a fancy weekender – it’ll do you a world of good…
1/ It’s good for your health
Whether you’re rushing to the airport, wandering the streets of somewhere new or hiking a UNESCO heritage site, chances are when you’re travelling, you’ll also be taking part in some kind of physical activity. It’s this physical activity that lowers your blood pressure, which in turn lowers your risk of heart problems. It’s even been scientifically proven that those of you who take a holiday annually as opposed to more than once a year, are more likely to develop heart conditions in later life. Basically, get packing that suitcase!
2/ It’s brain exercise
When you’re exploring new countries or even new experiences, this actually challenges your brain and keeps your mind sharp – warding off degenerative diseases, like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Travel can help improve your memory, concentration and social skills by remembering routes you’ve taken, concentrating on new languages and meeting local people in their own environment. Travel works particularly well, in this scenario, if you visit different places instead of old favourites.
3/ You’ll feel inspired
There’s a reason why writers decide to holiday when penning their next novel, it’s because travel breeds inspiration and motivation. Scientists have proven that travelling sparks synapses in the brain that create new neural pathways, leading to enhanced creativity. According to scientists, the more you engage with a new culture, the more creative you will be – we mean leaving your villa or AirBnB and exploring, just for clarification. This creativity will impact you not just at home but in your work life too, leading to more promotions… potentially. Sabbatical anyone?
“People who integrate a new culture into their identities are more creative in the long run.” William Maddux, Ph.D., Academy of Management Journal
4/ Travel helps you unwind
In a recent survey, 89 per cent of travellers said that they felt more relaxed after just a day on holiday. This is because being made to break with daily routines and surround yourself in a new setting results in significant stress reduction. To make the most of this ‘break from normality’, take advantage of the leisure activities on offer too – these can help stave off depression and improve your own personal sense of happiness. And the best thing is? This break or holiday need only be a weekend to get the full effects. What’s more, when you return, you’ll feel less stressed, more satisfied and with a positive outlook compared to those who didn’t travel.
5/ You might get a great idea!
Epiphanies: it turns out they’re a real thing and you’re most likely to have one whilst you’re on your travels. Faced with situations you wouldn’t normally be and outside of your comfort zone, your brain is forced to think slightly differently – causing a shift in perspective. This shift allows you to deal with problems in a different way, even after your holiday. You’ll also find that you can see life in a different way after seeing how other cultures live theirs. Their lives force you to challenge your own assumptions about your own life, encouraging you to think of your alternatives.
“Taking a break from business as usual enables us to pause, contemplate our lives, and potentially re-route the path we are taking on our journey. Placing yourself in a new situation with new surroundings will force you to get in touch with yourself because you simply cannot be on autopilot.” Toby Israel, Ph.D., Environmental Psychologist
6/ Travel prompts connections
With this comes the chance to meet with, stay with and share lives with new people. When in alien surroundings looking for guidance, it’s these strangers that you turn to, creating a new feeling of connectedness. This deeper social connectivity enhances your own sense of self, strengthens your personal identity, values and beliefs, as well as boosts your confidence levels. In psychology, there’s a concept that refers to the five dominant characteristics that typically make up a human being – the ‘Big Five’. These are neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, extraversion and conscientiousness. The more you travel, the more open you become – a shift in your otherwise stable characteristics.
“The more foreign countries people travel to, the more their sense of generalized trust increases.” William Maddux, Ph.D., Academy of Management Journal
7/ You’ll learn to cope better with stress
You know that rush of adrenaline you get when you set off to the airport, well, that can actually be good for you. The more adrenaline you feel when you travel, the more you’ll react in a better way to daily stresses in your personal and work life. This increase in adrenaline but then resulting improved coping mechanism also should help you feel less anxious in every day scenarios too – a true sense of ‘I’ve got this’. Scientists have found that travellers are more likely to be willing to accept deviations to their lives than those who don’t as they’re better equipped to cope with them.
8/ It’s the best way to fall in love
Travelling can be good for your heart, okay – we said this one, but in a different way. Removed from your worries and responsibilities at home, falling in love on your holidays has never seemed so easy! What’s even better is that your dates can be spent watching sunsets on the beach with a rum punch, zip lining through exotic rainforests or even swimming with turtles or manta rays. We’re not saying that these holiday romances will be here to stay but let’s be fair, quite a few do! So ditch Match.com and head abroad.