Travel isn't typically considered a core pillar of wellness, but maybe it should be. Constantly expanding your mind in any capacity is proven beneficial to your mental state. Travel can introduce a newly-found sense of "humility" into your life, because you're constantly learning something new. Be that a cultural tradition, cuisine, language or architecture, it might not come with matcha lattes and oat milk, but "wellness" stretches far beyond all of that. Here's why:
1. You're less stressed, and happier
Taking time off to travel allows you to reset, which can help prevent burnout. Much like meditation can give your brain a healthy break, traveling can give you a healthy "life break". The time you spend discovering new cuisines, hiking new mountains, or learning to salsa dance is sure to reduce those cortisol levels and give your overworked self an opportunity to recharge.
2. Increased brain health and creativity
Travel can be like a giant brain teaser—trying things you've never done before engages your problem-solving abilities. Having diverse experiences also gives you more reference points to draw from when trying to creatively solve problems in other areas of life. Science back this up, according to a study conducted at Indiana University, experiences abroad make us more creative and better problem solvers.
3. You connect with new people
Travel gives you the opportunity to meet and connect with new people and across different cultures. This is something we love about group travel—the ability to spend a period of time bonding with people you would have never met otherwise. Making new friends in this environment has numerous cognitive benefits, and in fact it's been found that people with a larger network tend to live longer.
4. It gives you something to look forward to
Hope is a powerful thing. Studies have shown that even just planning a trip brings multiple cognitive benefits. When you have something to look forward to, when you're having a rough day (or week), the thought of an upcoming trip can help boost your mood and stay resilient in the face of negativity. According to one Dutch study, you can get as much as 8 weeks of boosted happiness just by thinking about the trip you're going on.
5. Travel gives you perspective.
In the US, it's easy to get caught up in the rat race. Success = happiness. Promotions = happiness. A flat stomach = happiness. When you travel, you realize most countries don't ascribe to this mentality and yet, everyone seems happier and way less stressed. Italians take 2 hours off in the middle of the day and they live longer than anyone. Also, when you've traveled to more remote (and often poorer) destinations, your issues start to pale in the context of everything going on in the world. A parking ticket isn't that big of a deal when you consider that most people in the world can't afford a car. Or food.
It's important to remember is that travel can be unpredictable. This is part of what makes it so amazing but can turn a positive experience into a stressful one. A always recommend traveling without expectations. Just be present in whatever your travels bring, and grateful that you have the means and opportunity to see the world.
For The Love of Travel, a boutique curated travel company, offers millennials (age 24-36) the opportunity to connect with the world and like-minded travel buddies so you can make new friends while exploring new places. The company has set out to offer millennials the ideal experience. Learn more here.