7 Ways Traveling Actually Makes You Healthier, Says Science

Photo: WeHeartIt
road trip

So go on! Treat yourself to that dream vaca.

Traveling is fun. We love exploring, seeing new places, and getting away from the day-to-day routine of our lives.

But is it possible that, in addition to being an awesome escape and adventure, traveling is also incredibly good for your health?

1. Vacationing with other people adds to your feelings of well-being.

While referring to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index scores, Deborah Heisz, editorial director of Live Happy, says, "Forty-nine percent of Americans take regular trips or vacations, and those that go with family and friends have a significantly higher well-being than those who say they do not. 

Married Americans (56 percent) are most likely to take vacations with friends and family, followed by widowers (47 percent), single folks (43 percent), and those with a domestic partner (43 percent). People who are divorced (37 percent) or separated (30 percent) are least likely to regularly take such trips."

2. Exploring new places reduces stress.

"Travel invites renewed activity in various parts of our whole being. On the physical level, one benefit of travel is how it gets people moving as they explore new terrain visiting landmarks, museums, and parks, which are different and exciting, stimulating on many levels.

Along the same line, travel creates more space and invites us into vacation mode which helps reduce stress. In fact, one study showed that men who didn't even take one annual vacation had a 30 percent higher chance of dying from heart disease.

In the mental realms, traveling keeps our brain active and stimulated in new ways as we take in unfamiliar information and continue the learning process. These types of activities have been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 47 percent." says Danny Arguetty.

3. Looking at pictures of the trip evokes the same response as the vacation.

"In his study 'Vacationers Happier, But Most Not Happier after a Vacation,' published in the Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, Jeroen Nawijn, Ph.D., found that vacation length does not affect post-vacation happiness, and confirmed previous findings that a vacation's positive effects are short-lived. 

However, we can prolong our getaways' positive effects by looking at photos, telling friends about the trip, and otherwise keeping vacation memories alive," says Heisz.

4. Breaking from everyday routine resets your body and mind.

For the team at WorldNomads.com, travel is about making a healthy break from the routine. Programs marketing manager, Alicia Crosariol, says travel gives her a break from her work to breathe, think, and decompress. 

She says, "You're walking around all day in a new place and not sitting at a desk. Plus, it opens you up to a variety of new foods, many of which can be healthy. Think of all the tropical fruit in South-East Asia and the amazing fresh sushi in Japan."

5. Trying new things keeps your brain healthy.

Ruth Curran, MS is a brain injury survivor and author of Being Brain Healthy. She discusses neuroplasticity (the idea your brain can bend and change), and how forcing your brain to experience new things through travel is one of the best ways to get neurons to fire.

Curran says, "Enhanced sensory stimulation when you travel — like new tastes, smells and textures, along with doing things outside your normal routine — are vital to keeping your brain healthy, a key part of overall health."

6. People who camp have higher levels of happiness.

Children who camp in the great outdoors at least once a year go on to do better at school, as well as being healthier and happier, according to their parents. 

Mark Koep, founder of CampgroundViews.com, says, "Camping is one of the last true bastions of freedom left to modern people. I would argue that the simple act of traveling and adventure may be the link that leads to the findings in these studies."

7. Traveling overseas boosts your creativity.

There's a hypothesis that traveling overseas makes you more creative. Hajar Ali is the founder of Urbane Nomads, a travel company specializing in luxury travel to remote places.

Ali says, "In a month's time I'm moving to Midhurst, UK, for 3 months to learn polo ... Aside from the challenge, I believe getting myself out of the comfort zone of being somewhere familiar would be something that I could do right now, presenting me with new/creative ways of looking at things as well as a greater confidence in myself."

This study examines the correlation between foreign experience and designer creativity. Those who lived and worked in too many different countries tended to be superficial in their engagements, thus, not allowing for the maximum creative benefits from foreign experience.


Explore YourTango