Travel and Our Health: The Surprising Connection
Here’s some good news that we need to hear right now: In spite of the events of the last several years, the science remains clear – travel is good for our health.
It’s easy to think the opposite, that travel is how and where you get sick, but it’s important to look beyond COVID and consider the big picture. Travel can benefit our mood, our fitness level and even our ability to withstand disease.
How is this possible? Let’s have a look.
Travel and Mental Health
For many people, travel is that “exhale” moment that they crave. While the process of getting to a destination can sometimes increase stress levels, once they arrive at their destination and are able to relax, many people feel their stress melting away.
Research has found that travel can reduce stress in the following ways:
- It can help prevent burnout, and can actually make you feel better about your job – and more productive at work.
- It can help you sleep better and concentrate on difficult tasks more easily.
- It can help you feel more satisfied with the important relationships in your life, most notably your marriage.
- It can improve your perception of your quality of life, leading to improved satisfaction with your life in general.
That’s a lot – and best of all, the stress relief lasts. A German study found that the effects of even a short vacation can last for up to 45 days afterward, providing a “halo” effect that might even be able to carry you through to your next vacation.
Research has also found that people who take regular vacations report feeling more creative.
On top of that, studies have found that people who are exposed to different cultures find that viewing the world through the lens of a different culture provides an outside perspective that ultimately boosts their creativity.
Not everyone travels to boost their creativity, but for those that do, it’s powerful.
No surprise here: Travel makes most people happy.
Many people anecdotally equate times they travel with some of the happiest moments of their lives – whether it’s a honeymoon, a family road trip, or a bucket-list trip – and a Korean study has actually confirmed that connection.
In fact, according to a Cornell University study, the mere act of anticipating travel can increase a person’s happiness.
Travel creates and encourages happiness – and we all want to be happier.
Also read: 5 Tips for Taking a Relaxing Vacation
Travel and Physical Health
Increased Disease Resistance
Travelers are healthier than non-travelers. This may be hard for many people to accept, after the headlines and events of the last couple of years. In fact, the only way it makes any sense at all is if you consider it from this perspective:
Who was the kid in your neighborhood who never got sick? The one who ate the most dirt. Why? Because he was exposed to the most microbes, and developed a tolerance for darn near anything.
Surprisingly, research has confirmed this applies equally to travelers. The people who travel most and are exposed to the greatest variety of microbes tend to develop resistance to more strains of more stuff – and this can even lessen the impact of a global pandemic.
There are certainly exceptions to this rule – travelers can encourage the spread of viral diseases or come down with really serious illnesses like malaria, for instance. But as long as you stay away from the big stuff, the old saying is right: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Improved Physical Fitness
We’re generally – generally, mind you – more active on vacation than we are at home, and that’s a really good thing. Whether you’re skiing, walking beaches, sightseeing, even just taking trips from the hotel to the pool, check your step counter and see what I mean.
If you spend a week in Italy schlepping up and down Italian hills, and you’re not a schlepper back home, you’re likely to come back from vacation in better physical shape. That improved physical fitness makes us feel better about ourselves, and we become more health-conscious after that, and the whole thing just becomes a boulder rolling downhill.
Obviously this is not universal. There is much to be said for the “I'm plopping down in a deck chair and not moving a muscle” type of vacation, but improved physical fitness is not one of those things.
Still, many travelers feel like they’re in better shape after their vacation than before, and that’s a definite positive.
Also read: 6 Yoga Poses Anyone Can Do on Vacation
Here’s another positive: Insuring your trip with Generali can improve your peace of mind, which is a first step toward improved well-being. Getting a quote is easy, too.