The 11 psychological benefits of travel
Who doesn’t enjoy a good trip to a city they’ve never been to before? Travelling is a great motivation, as well as a source of joy, reflection and self-discovery. Traveling allows us to explore new climates and cultures, to immerse ourselves in them and to stimulate our mind.
Obviously, there are other people who prefer monotony and comfort in their home. But the truth is that travel fever has been on the rise in recent decades. Television, movies and the Internet have opened a window to other parts of the world, unique places that call our attention. Also influencing this travel boom has been the fact that prices have been falling, allowing more people to move around the globe.
Psychological benefits for travelers
There is an extensive scientific literature on the psychological and emotional benefits of good travel habits. Of course, some of these benefits can be quite intuitive, but it never hurts for science to investigate and discover the ins and outs of travel in our psyche .
Science has spoken
Without going any further, a study that was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that the feeling of happiness is found in the record of memories and experiences relevant to us, and whose maximum expression is travel.
Other research points to a clear correlation between being a traveler and longevity. Although this could be due to a socio-economic factor (and would therefore be a spurious correlation), something of a travelling gene also seems to have been detected. The fact of travelling to different places on the planet is not in itself a factor that explains greater longevity, but the psychological benefits of the experiences acquired during travel do seem clear. These benefits can improve our quality of life and, ultimately, lengthen the number of days we live .
All types of travel are positive
When researchers talk about travel, they are very clear about it: all kinds of travel are good for the psychological health of those who take it. From nearby destinations to trips to remote and exotic places, all travel can be a great source of emotional well-being . It is not necessary to go very far, or spend a lot of money, or practice any particular activity: all trips “add up”.
However, and as is logical, there are trips that bring us much more interesting experiences than others. In any case, all the experiences we live outside our home can be very positive to stimulate our mind. Each person has preferences when it comes to adventure, and it depends on many factors, such as personality, age and other variables.
Requirements for a life-changing trip
Many people confess to their friends, assuring them that a trip they took literally changed their lives. It’s true, sometimes journeys destroy many of our thought patterns and make us see beyond, opening us up to new worlds and possibilities that we didn’t even contemplate before.
Some of the requirements for a trip to be a kind of ‘reset’ of our mind, are the following:
- The journey was made either unaccompanied or with a group of individuals unknown up to that point.
- T T he journey was a challenge of a spiritual nature .
- The culture of the country or region visited was substantially different from the culture of the traveler himself.
- They were rather long trips , of more than 2 weeks.
If you have ever had an existential crisis, you will have realized that sometimes we need a change in our daily dynamics. In this sense, travel can help us to recover our faith in ourselves and even overcome bad times.
The 11 Psychological Benefits of Traveling
Surely there are many more than eleven, but in today’s article we will list the 11 most important benefits of the good habit of traveling and knowing the world .
1. Reduces stress and anxiety
Stress is the 19th century pandemic in Western countries . The demands of work, the rush and the frenetic pace of life cause us a latent discomfort that, sooner or later, manifests itself through pictures of stress. We cannot stop thinking about our obligations, tomorrow’s meetings or the uncertainty of work that lurks in our midst, and we forget to enjoy the present and the small pleasures of life.
However, when we undertake a journey, we disconnect from all these daily anxieties and focus on living the present , relaxing by the pool, visiting paradisiacal beaches, being moved by the beauty of the landscapes… We focus on the moment and we are not concerned with any meetings or with complying with work routines.
To know more: “10 essential tips to reduce stress”
2. Enhance your problem-solving skills
During a trip, we force ourselves to go outside our comfort zone and we have to face certain situations and contexts that require greater involvement. You will live certain experiences in which you will have to make decisions and solve problems .
You are likely to get lost on the streets you don’t know, go to places at the right time and have to communicate with natives who don’t speak your language. In short, throughout the odyssey you will have to solve various problems and complicated situations that will arise, and this will help you improve this ability.
3. Increase your communication and social skills
If you have always wanted to meet new people and make friends, you should bear in mind that travelling gives you the best opportunity to connect with other people . Being in an unfamiliar place, you are likely to be encouraged to talk to people and thus develop your social skills.
Don’t worry if during the first few days you find it a little difficult to address people you meet along the way. Once you get over the stage, you will surely be able to meet exceptional people who will give meaning to your experience. You may even make friends and come back after a while to visit them , or welcome them into your own home.
Recommended article: “Guide to meeting new people: sites, skills and tips”
4. Open your mind and expand your horizons
Travel is the best solution to get rid of stereotypes and prejudices. In fact, we often hear that “travel is the best cure for racism”. Prejudices make us suspicious of people for irrational reasons , and keep us from connecting with new people.
When we are on an expedition to a new culture, we will realize that some of these thoughts were not founded . We will discover new people and customs that deserve our appreciation, helping us to open our minds and relate in a more friendly way to all kinds of people.
5. Encourages self-discovery
Taking an exciting trip is the best way to get to know yourself. We temporarily abandon our daily context and visit a totally different environment, which can help us to gain perspective on who we are and what we want in life .
In addition, travel can give us a new approach to life, discovering things we didn’t know we liked.
6. Makes you happier
The experiences we live during our travels make us secrete different happiness hormones, such as endorphins. When we are away from home, we forget the worries and obligations of work and family. During a trip we do activities that we like and that encourage us to relate to other people .
All this plays into our psychological well-being.
7. Keeps you from fear and insecurities
Fear is a sensation that paralyzes us. And, as many experts say, the best way to overcome fears is to confront them. Once we become aware that fears are only in our head, we gradually relativize them and banish them .
Before embarking on a journey to a distant and unknown destination, you will probably have fears and insecurities such as: “Will I be lonely? And even, depending on the destination you choose, you may feel that you risk being robbed on the street or not being able to understand people if you have any problems.
The reality is that exposing ourselves to fears is the best way to overcome them . Many people have gone on a trip before and only a minority of them have had anything serious happen to them. Give yourself the opportunity to get to know a new culture and you will overcome your insecurities.
8. Makes you rethink many things
Spending time away from home can broaden your outlook on things and life in general. Your priorities may change, and you may give less importance to material things and values and more to other things that you did not value before.
9. Encourage you to be more empathetic
Changing context and immersing yourself in a new city and a hitherto unknown culture offers you the chance to put your everyday problems into perspective and put yourself in the shoes of other people who may have a much more complicated life than you.
This can help you to be more empathetic and to be able to appreciate that other people may have different value systems.
10. You learn constantly
Living unique experiences in environments other than those to which we are accustomed provides us with learning and knowledge that improves us as people . It gives us another vision about things, about relationships, about religion, about the way in which different cultures face life.
In addition, the habit of traveling provides us with the tools to question our daily lives and our most deeply rooted values. Knowing new things empowers us with skills and capacities that were latent , and develops our critical spirit.
11. Develop your vision of things and broaden your horizons
Traveling and getting to know new countries and cultures broadens our view of society . It makes us more respectful and flexible, since we learn to value the needs and thought patterns of the people we meet.