An average UK resident has visited 10 countries, which is more than Germans (8) and the French (5) and Americans (3). Given the number of deals, discounts, and offers most travel platforms offer these days, you can easily travel overseas without having to ransack your piggy bank or burning a hole in your pocket. Globe-trotting isn’t just fun and interesting – there’s adequate research to show that travelling can be highly beneficial for emotional, mental and physical health as well. Doesn’t that sound like a good enough reason for you to book a luxurious B&B (like, Sweet Field Manor) in Barbados to unwind after a long week? Wait, there’s more!
Travel exposes you to different environments, which create stronger antibodies and boost your immune system significantly. Antibodies are the little proteins that shield your immune system from deadly pathogens, and multiple research studies imply that being exposed to dirty or minor illnesses really keeps your body and gut more grounded. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t rehearse essential cleanliness out and about, however, being exposed to some new microscopic organisms throughout your life is certifiably not a terrible thing.
According to Joel Weinstock, Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Tufts Medical Center, “In the 20th century, we started changing the way we live. We live in very clean boxes. Water is immaculate. Food is nearly sterile. Exposure to bacteria and soil is less common. Certain diseases that were essentially unknown in the 18th century and earlier are becoming common now.” When you venture out from one place to the other, your body automatically adjusts to a huge number of infinitesimal bodies, making it significantly more grounded. Andy Lee Graham who has travelled to 107 countries since 1998 admits to travelling being “his best probiotic.”
Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor who has authored several studies investigating the connection between international travel and creativity says, “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” However, travelling alone, without being purposeful about engaging, isn’t enough. “The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion and adaptation,” he explains further, “Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.” The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology clearly states that people who travel abroad are more open, emotionally stable, culturally aware, and experience an increase in cognitive flexibility.
Most people tend to often associate travel with happiness and contentment, especially on ‘staycations’ where they don’t have to worry about work. Although losing your baggage or almost missing a connecting flight in a foreign country can be nerve-racking, but, overall, travelling has been scientifically proven to dramatically reduce stress. A Cornell University study noted that people are significantly happier while planning a trip, that they might not even take. The anticipation of taking a vacation contributes to their direct happiness more than when they acquire a physical possession. Hence, it’s only fair to conclude that the advantages of travelling take effect way before the trip does.
Not only this, travellers who take 3-days off for a vacation agree to feeling more relaxed, less worried and in a better mood for weeks after their excursion has ended. The Wisconsin Rural Women’s Health Study also says that women who go on a vacation at least 2 times a year are less prone to chronic stress and depression, as opposed to women who go on a vacation less than once every 2 years. On a similar note, a collective research commissioned by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and the United States Travel Association shows that men who do not indulge in a yearly vacation are at a 20% higher sudden death risk and display a 30% elevated risk of contracting heart disease.
While travelling often involves sitting for hours on end in numerous moving vehicles, it also provides you with plenty of opportunities to be active. When your travel, you’d want to explore new things and see all any place has to offer, so you’re more likely to take up an extreme sport, walk the street markets, or take a hike, which to be honest is much more than what you generally do back home. All said and done, travel forces you to pull up your socks and work on your muscles twice as hard, giving you an adventurous excuse to stay fit and catch up on regular exercise.
With the aforementioned scientifically-backed health benefits, it’s clear how much you can gain from packing your bags and visiting places that you’ve not seen.