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5 Science-Backed Reasons Why Traveling is Good For You

5 Science-Backed Reasons Why Traveling is Good For You

May 28, 2024 | Good Living, Holistic Health

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that I may earn a small commission from, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I use or have used myself. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Travel is Essential for Well-Being

If you love to travel as much as I do — good news! Not only is it invigorating and renewing, but it also has tangible mental and physical health benefits. Whether you are visiting a new city or traveling across the world, it can help to jump-start creativity, snap you out of a funk, improve brain function, and much more. Even planning a trip and the anticipation of it is good for your health. So let’s dive into the fascinating science behind the benefits of travel and why as humans we have a built-in desire to move.

Hardwired to Roam

“Travel entails wishful thinking. It demands a leap of faith, and of imagination, to board a plane for some faraway land, hoping, wishing, for a taste of the ineffable. Travel is one of the few activities we engage in not knowing the outcome and reveling in that uncertainty.”1 – journalist Eric Weiner in “Why travel should be considered an essential human activity”.

The desire to travel isn’t new. For a large part of human history, we lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers seeking food and avoiding conflict with neighboring bands of people. It’s built into our DNA. If you need an idea of how deeply this instinct is embedded within us, think about how people responded to the lockdowns during the pandemic with mental and physical health plummeting. Not being able to move around in the broader sense of the world impacts us — deeply. While there are varying degrees of this impulse, from self-proclaimed homebodies to international travelers who are constantly on the move, all of us need a change of environment from time to time. Not convinced? Here are five, science-backed reasons why travel is good for you.

Nicole Apelian poolside

The Physical, Mental, & Emotional Benefits of Travel

When I speak of travel it is the kind of journey where you unplug from work and email, pack your bags, and venture to a place outside your normal environment. This is where you will reap the greatest rewards. It is also where you often experience various levels of discomfort — whether from a long flight, fumbling with a new language, getting your bearings in an unfamiliar city, or unexpected travel events.

But this is part of the magic! Being out of our predictable comfort zone certainly brings challenges, yet it is through these events that we experience the most growth and feeling of being alive. Many times, spontaneity and the unexpected are what bring color to our stories once we return home. Beyond this growth opportunity, traveling is also good for your health, as seen below.

Reduces stress. Not surprisingly, when we take a vacation for three or more days, it dramatically lowers our stress level as we are able to renew ourselves with enjoyable activities that are separate from our work life. Being in a different environment away from home helps to promote this disengagement from work, both physically and mentally. As noted in the paper, “Taking a break: Exploring the restorative benefits of short breaks and vacations”:2

“The beneficial effects of vacations have been well-documented and include reducing emotional exhaustion and burnout, decreasing absenteeism, increasing work engagement, and increasing health, well-being, life satisfaction and quality of life.”

However, the author notes that these positive effects fade within three to four weeks after returning home from a vacation. Because of this, shorter vacations between 2-4 days in length throughout the year in addition to longer vacations are recommended to prevent burnout and promote ongoing health benefits.

Boosts Health. Interestingly, travel promotes health. One study by The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that women who take a vacation at least twice per year significantly lower their risk of a heart attack compared to those who only travel every six years. For men, those who did not take a vacation at least once a year had a 20% higher risk of death and 30% greater risk of dying from heart disease.3

Enhances Creativity. When you travel to a different culture, it changes your brain for the better. It helps to increase cognitive flexibility and improves the depth of connections — with one caveat: you need to engage purposefully with the culture. Adaptation, immersion, and multicultural engagement are key to getting a creative boost while traveling internationally.6

Increases Happiness and Life Satisfaction. While it may not come as a surprise that people are happier while traveling (and away from work), I find it fascinating that studies have shown even planning a trip increases happiness. The team found that anticipating a trip far outweighed buying a physical possession in boosting happiness and life satisfaction.4

Lowers the Risk of Depression. When someone faces the hopelessness of depression, you may not immediately think of travel as a viable treatment. But one study found that women who vacation frequently are less likely to become depressed, tired, or tense, and have better marriage satisfaction, which leads to increased quality of life and improved work performance.5

Nicole's Apothecary elderberry and usnea tinctures

Staying Healthy While Traveling

Personally, these findings are inspiring and confirm what many of us have suspected for years: travel is good medicine. Be this as it may, travel can also expose you to contagious illness — especially during airline travel and being in close quarters with groups of people at museums, on trains, and in hotels. This is why I never leave home without my Travel Pack.

It contains potent tinctures of Elderberry and dual-extracted Usnea Throat Spray. Elderberry helps to prevent contagious illness and also reduces your downtime if you do happen to catch a bug, which is particularly important while traveling to avoid spending your vacation in bed recovering! Our usnea extract can be sprayed on the back of the throat as an herbal antibiotic and antiviral.

The pack also includes a tin of my All-Purpose (First Aid) Salve, which I apply to the inside of my nose with a Q-tip to keep bugs from taking hold if I’ve been exposed.

I love to travel and do so as often as I can, but I also recognize that it opens you up to contagious illness. This is why I always take precautionary measures to keep my family healthy while we are away from home.

Whether you have an upcoming trip planned, or would like an extra measure of protection while out and about at home, our convenient Travel Pack is a smart choice. Interested in learning more? Stop by the apothecary today!

Nicole Apelian

Nicole’s Apothecary Products in this Post

Nicole's Apothecary Travel Pack bundle

Travel Pack

  1. “Why travel should be considered an essential human activity” Eric Weiner, National Geographic, September 8, 2020. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/why-travel-should-be-considered-an-essential-human-activity
  2. Jan Packer,Taking a break: Exploring the restorative benefits of short breaks and vacations, Annals of Tourism Research Empirical Insights, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annale.2020.100006.
  3. The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, “Destination Healthy Aging: the physical, cognitive and social benefits of travel”. https://globalcoalitiononaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/destination-healthy-aging-white-paper_final-web.pdf
  4. Kumar, A., Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilovich, T. (2014). Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases. Psychological Science, 25(10), 1924-1931. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614546556
  5. Chikani, V., Reding, D., Gunderson, P., & McCarty, C. A. (2005). Vacations improve mental health among rural women: the Wisconsin Rural Women’s Health Study. WMJ : official publication of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin, 104(6), 20–23.
  6. Frédéric C. Godart, William W. Maddux, Andrew V. Shipilov, and Adam D. Galinsky, 2015: Fashion with a Foreign Flair: Professional Experiences Abroad Facilitate the Creative Innovations of Organizations. AMJ, 58, 195–220, https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2012.0575

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