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The vast majority of people agree, traveling is one of the best ways to completely check out and reset. But given this information, a shocking number of people, especially within the United States, just don’t do it. In fact, nearly 29% of American adults admit they have never left the country.
Many of these people are missing out on the thousands of reasons to experience traveling. Sure, there are certainly reasons traveling abroad can be out of reach, but even getting out of the state offers a lot of positive experiences. Believe it or not, traveling can actually change your life altogether.
Traveling — not just business trips, but actually packing bags, turning off the work phone, and taking a vacation — has been shown to have a profoundly positive impact on nearly every aspect of your life. From both a physical and mental health perspective, travel has the potential to improve your health. Likewise, it can make a big difference in your overall outlook on life.
One of the biggest things about traveling that many people do not realize immediately is just how much it actually benefits your physical health. Probably the most obvious physical benefit is the sheer increase in activity you experience. People who travel walk a lot more than those who are home at work. On average, tourists visiting a new city will cover about 8 miles per day!
This increased activity level has some pretty obvious physical health benefits. But travel may also greatly reduce your risk of a heart attack. One study found that traveling once or twice a year decreased heart attack risk in both men and women by up to 20%. Given that heart disease and heart attacks are a major health factor in the U.S., there could be some profound benefits to traveling.
Of course, there are ways to get sick traveling such as through eating contaminated food or contracting a disease from mosquitoes, but there are a lot of precautions that can be taken to help avoid these issues. In a number of situations, the U.S. is actually working hard to limit risks. For example, the CDC is working to combat Zika outbreaks wherever they might occur in the U.S.
Beyond just physical health, travel does wonders for your mental health as well. Just three days of travel can be enough to visibly reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can have a significant impact on nearly every aspect of life. Somes studies have even shown that these benefits can last for weeks after you’ve come home from vacation.
Travel has also been linked to improved sleep patterns because when traveling you are likely to go to bed when tired and not set an alarm. Adequate sleep is incredibly important for both mental and physical health and wellbeing. Getting enough sleep on vacation reduces your irritability and make you feel more adventurous and creative at the same time.
Finally, travel has been shown to substantially lower your risk of depression by keeping you active, giving you something to look forward to, helping you relax, and challenging you in a way that may build self-esteem. In addition, those who travel are more likely to simply be happier. Even things such as planning the trip increases endorphins that produce feelings of excitement and happiness. They really aren’t kidding when they say planning the vacation is half the fun.
A World Citizen
Travel also benefits people in unique and intangible ways. For example, those who travel frequently are often put into uncomfortable or challenging situations that can be difficult at the time, but create some of the best memories later on. These experiences help to promote individual growth and confidence and could even change your brain chemistry.
By embracing all of the new sights, smells, and experiences that travel brings, you may also feel something in yourself begin to change quite drastically. Getting out of the comfort zone and working to enjoy whatever comes your way is a profound means of opening up your mind to the world. It can completely alter long held perceptions and even change the way you look at the world overall.
All of these experiences can be revisited over and over again by taking the right photos and displaying them around the house. Doing so could help to remind you of the stress-free and confident person who lives inside of you, and help you channel that during more trying times. Photos are also great conversation topics when friends and family visit, which can help you relive your trip over and over.
Whether you are going across the globe or across the state on a road trip, travel can bring multitudes of positive experiences and benefits into your life. It lowers stress levels, improves sleep, decreases heart attack risk, and makes you a more open-minded person. With all this to gain, the real question is: what do you have to lose?