Why do we travel? The answer is simple: Because we love it.
We enjoy the slow and peaceful breakfasts, the long walks, the new experiences, places, people and memories. They make us feel happy we are alive. No wonder! Travelling seems to combine most of the habits of healthy people.
What are the benefits of travelling? Why is travelling so important?
Scientists have proven that travelling is good for both your body and your mind! Perhaps this is why we love it. Because we feel that a few minutes in the sun raise our vitamin D levels and improve our mood. Vitamin D has its health benefits too – it is good for our hearts.
The importance of travel ranges from lower chances of heart disease to relieving stress and anxiety. On top of the health benefits, travel can also enhance your creativity, your sense of happiness and satisfaction.
If you still need additional excuses/ reasons for why you should travel, read on to find out more about the main benefits of travelling the world.
When you travel, you:
1. Achieve peace of mind
Most of us live in the city. Our daily routine involves navigating through urban landscapes on crowded public transport in chase of our busy schedules. Gradually stress accumulates. Problems loom large, burnout makes us feel dissatisfied without job, we never seem to find time for adventure.
Travel is your cure.
Travelling can disconnect you from your daily routine. Once you break the repetitive pattern, pack your bags and hit the road, your mind can reset. Seeing new places, meeting new people, overcoming various challenges may even help you appreciate what you have left behind. It can help you take a step back and think about things and people you miss. You can get a better perspective on your life and remember all the good things.
2. Enhance your creativity
One of the biggest benefits of Travelling is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. Especially if you are travelling to a place you have never visited before, everything seems fresh and new. New stimuli attack all your senses. You see new landscapes and experience vivid colors. You hear new music, people speak an unknown language in the streets, which overflows with the new scents smells. The smell and the taste of new food… Even the small challenges are welcome. How do you hold chopsticks? How do you bargain at the market? How do you find your way around?
Travelling introduces novelty to your brain and improves cognition. Once you face new challenges, you need to be resourceful to find a solution. New neural connections are created in the brain as a result, and they engender new original thoughts.
So once you return home, you can use all these new stimuli and creativeness to generate new ideas in your old job.
3. Improve your communication skills
Are you a fan of international travel? Do you prefer remote and exotic locations?
Then you have probably been to places where your native language is not spoken. Sometimes you need to be quite ingenious when trying to relate with the locals. At one point you realise that every attempt to find a place or buy something involves a lot of pointing and gesturing. But gradually you pick up words.
Meanwhile, you are also learning a lot about a new way of life, a new culture. You may even find new friends and expand your real-life social network. Especially if you are a fan of couch surfing.
Another advantage of travelling is that it also makes you interesting. Once you get back home, everyone will want to hear about your adventures and the new friends you found, or hear the new words you’ve learnt.
4. Broaden your horizons
How do we meet the world? Books, the Internet, TV news and documentaries tell us about distant countries, people and their way of life. However, a TV report presents to you someone else’s point of view and may very well narrow your perspective instead of broadening your mind.
Travelling the world and meeting people living in different conditions and treating life differently is what really teaches you about the world. Once you actually go and visit, you may even challenge your own opinion about less known places and cultures.
Discovering new cultures can also help you see the issues and the challenges of your daily life in a new way.
5. Boost your confidence
Travelling to new lands has its benefits but it also comes with its challenges.
We’ve heard our share of scary stories. A huge bull blocking the narrow mountain path you have taken. A rickshaw man takes a side street and suddenly you find yourself in a gloomy slum. You ask the locals for directions and they take you to the neighbourhood chief who looks like the gangsters in movies. And what is really scary is that you are alone in an unknown place. You cannot rely on friends and relatives, or even on your language skills.
This is why how travelling forces you to be resourceful and teaches you how to cope with obstacles. Overcoming various challenges turns the scary story into and adventure and boosts your confidence. You even feel better prepared for the challenges waiting for you back home.
6. Get real-life education
You may learn a lot about the world from books. Textbooks are filled with facts and illustrations. Fiction takes us to new lands and introduces us to new people and ideas. But textbook facts cannot be smelled, heard, felt, or tasted.
Whereas travelling offers you the opportunity to meet the people, hear the music, taste the food, touch the yellow stones of the pyramids.
Explore new cultures
Discovering new music genres, spices and recipes through travelling enriches your life and increases life satisfaction. You can even recreate your exotic experiences for your friends once you return home and share with them what you have learned about the world. Invite them over and play the CD, prepare an extraordinary dish with the spices you bought, fill your home with the aroma of incense.
Learn about the world
I remember being impressed as I child by kids who could name the capitals of numerous countries. I couldn’t even remember three. The birthplace of this author? Hmmm… But I will never forget Paris with the flooded banks of the Seine, the gargoyles of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Jester statue at Stratford-upon-Avon. Or the bleak sculpture of the two metal swords and their shadows at the Canterbury Cathedral (so this is where the pilgrims from Canterbury Tales were going).
7. Make memories
Real-life education is more memorable because it is personal. And our memories are part of who we are, part of our identity.
What is more, positive memories we revisit often. Open one of your photo albums and a minute later you will realise you are smiling while going through the pictures. You see happy faces and funny moments shared with friends and family. You see yourself – cheerful and filled with energy! And you relive this happiness.
Remember eating with chopsticks for the first time? West End and the gorgeous musicals. The tiny second-hand bookshop on Kanda street.
These cherished memories are precious stories you can tell your children or grandchildren one day. And they will be as vivid to them as they are for you.
8. Understand yourself
As travelling takes you out of your comfort zone, it often forces you to deal with change and uncertainty.
Adapt to change
During my first summer job abroad my boss had this favourite phrase: Flexibility is key.
Change is a normal part of our lives. Therefore, the ability to change and adapt is vitally important for us. A lot of people struggle and feel frustrated with their lives or their jobs because they can’t deal with change. How does this help you know yourself? Well, travelling can force you to deal with change on an everyday basis, much more often than your daily life. And once you manage to bring order to the chaos, you realise how strong and adaptable you really are.
Find your strengths
Meanwhile, the new challenges you face help you understand your strengths and your weaknesses. An additional advantage of travelling is that it helps test your limits. Once you get on the wrong train, you learn to read all the signs and then soon you find out that you can lead your friends through the complex maze of the metropolis underground. And you thought you had a terrible sense of direction and were more of a follower than a leader.
Learn about your likes
Travel also helps you get to know what you like and don’t like. Once you experience the typhoon season and snowless Christmas, you realise you love your homeland and its four seasons. The sweltering heat is no longer a nuisance. You forget you used to hate the cold before: snowmen are fun, the frost on the trees – mesmerising.
You prefer contemplating the sea to trekking. If you stop and ask yourself why, you may find out something about yourself. Perhaps you need some inner peace and quiet and not new challenges and team work to deal with obstacles.
9. Have fun
Scientists have established that our sense of happiness increases even before we start our journey. Why? We look forward to it! The simple expectation of the trip that will help us break free from routine creates a positive feeling.
The trip itself is an opportunity to sleep late, have one of these lazy breakfasts that someone else has prepared. Try new cuisine. Why not add some camel milk to your coffee, after all this is Dubai. Taste Classic French mussels or real sushi (turns out it’s quite different to the one in the shop around the corner from your place). Are you adventurous enough to try the deep fried insects?
Flamenco and salsa in the streets seem much more alive and fun than what you do in dance classes. Street musicians and artist in big cities are amazing, so much more brilliant than the ones you see on Talent shows.
Positive experiences reduce stress. So if you are struggling with burnout, fighting anxiety or simply feeling too tired, you may try a mindfulness course or yoga. But if you have the opportunity to take some time off and travel, go for it! It will do you a world of good.
10. Improve your health
This brings us back to healthy habits.
The first one is sleep. Do you hate the sound of your alarm in the mornings? Do you set it too early so that you can hit the snooze button at least twice before actually getting up? Does this make you feel lazy and guilty about not wanting to get out of bed? Getting enough sleep is vital for both our physical and our mental health. I love weekends simply because my day does not start with the annoying sound of the alarm.
Travelling is a great opportunity to sleep late and even have a nap in the afternoon. Get your beauty sleep.
The second travel-related healthy habit is movement. If you plan a walking trip, you can balance a job that involves sitting behind a desk all day. Exercise is good for your heart, for your muscles and bones, it can also increase your energy levels.
Are you tired of the hurried breakfasts, fast-food lunches and frozen-food dinners? Our hectic daily life seems incompatible with a healthy diet. Yet while you travel you can eat as often as you feel hungry, eat proper food, delicious food.
Travelling takes us outdoors. The opportunity to get enough sun (some vitamin D) and some fresh air improves both our tan and our mood.
And finally, laughter. Share the journey with your friends and family and laugh together.
Remember: A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.
Travelling is great for your health. So choose your dream destination, book your ticket and pack your bags. Adventure is waiting for you out there and there are so many benefits to travelling.
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