Research shows WHY traveling is so important
By, Emily Walters, Guest Blogger
We’ve all been there. Crunching the numbers to see if there’s enough in the rainy-day fund to take another family vacation. And before you make your decision, you’ll have to face some difficult questions.
– Is travel too much of a splurge? Or is it a necessity?
– Is it worthwhile to schlep the kids around another city? Or would it be a shame to rob them of the cultural diversity?
The answers to these questions are personal and will depend on your situation, but travel is probably more of a necessity than most people realize. This post will outline seven major benefits of traveling often and will touch on a few ways to make travel a larger part of your life.
7 Major Benefits of Traveling More Often
1. Greater appreciation for home and family
You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. And we know that’s true because Joni Mitchell never lies. But seriously, it’s way too easy to take close friends and family members for granted, and a little distance can actually strengthen your bond. So if your little ones are getting tired of being smothered in Nana’s kisses, it may be time for a break. Science agrees.
A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that in relationships, greater distance equates to more intimacy, communication and satisfaction. The principles are the same with familial bonds, so we can assume that distance would also strengthen those relationships
And it works in reverse too. Studies have shown that the increased family time during travel helps improve communication, strengthens lifelong family bonds and increases a sense of well-being in adults and children.
2. Learning through life experience
The benefits of travel in a child’s education are obvious. Visiting landmarks and historic sites in person are invaluable ways to blend lessons with memories. However, studies have shown that travel may provide other benefits to learning. A review of the research shows that general travel has learning benefits, and more research must be done to determine which types of travel are best. For example, independent travel, including study abroad programs, may provide more educational value than family travel, but they can both enhance learning.
Pulling the kids out of school for a vacation may or may not negate the learning benefits of travel, but that’s a decision for your family. Your plans may include education that the kids simply cannot get in a classroom.
3. Gain friends around the world
A family can realize the benefits of travel long after the passport stamp has faded. Relationships forged during travel can last a lifetime, and they can also encourage future travel. This is especially true in cases where you can stay with a host family. Staying with a host family also gives you a better opportunity to learn about the local culture, language and traditions.
4. Reduced stress
Researchers found that participants who were stressed at work felt less anxious after three days of vacation. Imagine that. Travel allows us to take time away from the things that stress us out, so it’s only natural that it would result in reduced overall stress. After all, isn’t this why we love to travel? And even though the stresses are still there when we got back, the study shows that the restorative effects of a vacation can last for weeks.
5. Improvements in brain health
Studies have shown that travel is good for the brain. Apparently, there’s a connection between travel and creativity that helps keep the brain active. Anyone who has spent time traveling can attest to the fact that travel also gives you a deeper sense of cultural awareness and enhances personal growth.
6. Decreased risk of heart disease
As part of the long-running Framingham Heart Study, researchers followed up with women who vacationed every six years or fewer and found that they were at greater risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death than those who traveled more often.
Such a result isn’t surprising, especially when we consider how vacations impact our stress levels (see benefit #4).
7. Increased longevity
Not only will travel keep you from having a heart attack, but it will also increase your longevity overall. One study published in Pshycosomatic Medicine found that the frequency of annual vacations by middle-aged men is associated with reduced risk of all-cause early mortality.
The connection seems natural when you consider that travel can help reduce stress, but this is just another check in the “pro” column for that additional vacation this year.
How to Travel More Often
Now for the golden question, “How can I travel more often?” Most of us are restricted by budget or work schedules, but there are a few tips that can help you get on the road more often.
– Travel for work – Most jobs will allow you to travel with your family. At the very least, they will pay for your travel expenses, which will help with the overall budget. If you’re looking for a new career that will allow you to get paid to travel, consider travel nursing, yoga instruction or a job as a flight attendant.
– Volunteer overseas – This one can be a bit tricky for families, but there are opportunities that will provide room and board for your entire family. For example, WWOOF International provides opportunities for families to volunteer on organic farms around the world.
– Travel with another family – When you travel together, you can share costs on housing (assuming you rent), car rental, and you may even experience reduced group rates at area attractions.
– Live like a local – Instead of eating and playing at the tourist-centric spots, consider asking locals for their favorite places. It’s a great way to save the “tourist tax” on everything, and you’ll have a more authentic experience.
Now that your list of reasons to take another vacation is full, it seems there’s only one thing to do – start planning! Just think back to all the family vacations you had growing up. They are likely the most memorable times of your childhood. The more you can give that experience to your children, the better.
About the Guest Blogger: Emily Walters is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of industries including business, healthcare, technology, and travel. Aside from writing, Emily enjoys traveling, gardening, and paddle boarding. For more on Emily, check here LinkedIn or www.emilywalters.net.