Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

‘Travelling is food for the soul’ is a well-known saying that resonates with the idea that every time you travel, you do your mental health a huge favour. Travelling can do wonders for your physical and mental being; many people even claim to have become completely new people after a short vacation itself. When all seems to be going downhill and the world seems to be sucking the life out of you, simply pack your stuff and go on a trip!

It is not necessary to spend trucks of money or plan an elaborate vacation; sometimes a simple road trip too can provide the mental satisfaction one craves. Apart from monetary consideration, there are no other limits to travelling. Going for a short business related trip might not have the same positive outcome as a ‘solo’ or ‘close friend only’ unplanned trip may have. You must also remember that one of the main reasons why you want to travel is to escape the stresses of the world. Constantly being glued to the internet, posting and surfing on social media defeats the entire purpose and is bad for your mental health.

Why Travelling Is Good For Your Mental Health?

We have enlisted a few reasons on why travelling is good for your mental health:

Travel Reduces Stress

If one is travelling to another city or country, planning the vacation worrying about the expenses and risk of losing your luggage may be legitimate concerns. Apart from this, travelling has been scientifically proven to improve your mental capabilities and reduce your stress levels. People who travel frequently are seen to be calmer, less stressed and generally happier than those who do not. In life, we face several complex and stressful situations each day, be at work, college or at home. Travelling provides the much-needed change in sights sounds to people and is beneficial for you mental health. When the traveller’s mind is concentrating on taking in the newness and freshness the place has to offer, you will automatically think and worry less about the problems you are facing in your life back at home and will leave with a refreshed and rejuvenated mind.

All work and no travel make life a stressful one. It is seen that people who are employed in high stress jobs or are in a demanding and complicated relationship, going out on solo trips gives the person a whole new perspective to deal with the negative parts of their lives and is one of the important reason why travelling is good for mental health. When one is travelling alone, without a planned itinerary, he or she is not duty bound to follow a fixed plan or be slaves to the tyranny of the clock. They do not have to worry about anyone but their own enjoyment and safety. You can do things at your own convenience and pace. This is not to say that travelling with family or in a large group is a bad idea. However, the company you choose to go with has large implications with how the travelling will affect you. For people who like to travel following an itinerary, it is still less stressful than the daily routine back at home.

Once you return from your trip, you feel much more confident to take on the world and its problems. You may have to go back to your routinized life, but you would not seem to mind as much. The benefits of travelling seem to last a few weeks after it. Even if you feel stressed again, there is no harm in travelling some more.

Travelling Makes You Mentally Resilient & Confident

This is particular true in the case of solo trips. Travelling to unfamiliar places on your own makes a person confident and headstrong. Travellers may have to face novel and difficult situations, which are tougher than the ones they face back at home. Situations, such as losing one’s luggage, taking the wrong route, travelling with unfriendly company or falling short of money can pose as challenges. All these scenarios require the traveller to be calm and composed and they must think quickly and strategically. There is no room for panic and wrong decisions. Such situations make one street smart and experienced resulting in a more resilient and confident self.

It may seem so that travelling is not a good idea if one is aiming for a stress free life, but in the long run, these experiences make one tougher and independent. Travellers learn different coping techniques and the feeling of achievement after solving the problem is unparalleled. People who travel regularly face difficult situations better than those who do not. Travelling teaches travellers to live outside the comfort zone and make the best out of the present situation and this is why travelling is good for your mental health. People who travel are most adjusting and accommodating. They have learnt that not everything needs to go according to plan and detours are inevitable.

They become mentally resilient and use their travel experience in their everyday activities. As they say, accepting the problem is the beginning of solving the problem. Many travellers go for adventure trips in order to hone their adventurous side and get an adrenaline rush. It is often seen that travellers do not like staying in fancy hotels but will opt for either living as paying guests with locals or in less expensive hostels and dormitories. Though economical viability is a major reason, many travellers do this to build character and tolerance level. Not having access to state of the art amenities helps in learning how to live comfortably with the bare necessities and makes you mentally tough.

Travelling Makes You Think Creatively

It is often seen that writers, painters and musicians are also avid travellers. This is for the simple reason travelling helps them think creatively. People involved in the creative fields such as music, filmmaking or paintings may go to places on which they want to base their work, or just to get inspiration and insight. What we see and what we experience influence our brains, and all this is used by travellers to enhance their work and hence is good for your mental health. Travelling to places, which have a culture that is different from one’s own, helps one to not only learn new ways of living, but also appreciate others ways of doing things. Other people’s culture and belief system makes one question their own. Travelling expands thinking in unimaginable ways and makes one more open and welcoming to new ideas, people and places. Travellers emerge themselves in new culture and take back certain aspects to include either in their work or in their way of life. Travelling makes you broad minded and see the good in the worst-case scenarios. Many travellers who go on trips to economically poor countries witness how people survive and make the best out of the little they have.

Travelling makes you aware that riches and comfort are not the only things in life and let you take back home certain cost effective practices.

As pointed out earlier, travel brings with it its own set of problems, which require quick and creative thinking. The lessons learned during travelling are then used in daily activities and helps in building your stress tolerance and which is good for your mental health. The entire planning process itself is a creative endeavour. From deciding where to go, what places to explore, what to eat and what adventures to be part of, all require creative thinking. Many people create a bucket list of things they will try out in the new place.

Travelling Makes You Happy & Satisfied

People in general do not like being tied down and forced to follow a routine. Not having to go to work and planning for a trip makes people happy. They have something to look forward to and can take a break from their daily commitments and stresses. Staying in the same place and doing the same things day in and day out makes one dull and mechanical. When one travels, they see new places and try out things they would not have, had they stayed at home.

Studies have shown that anticipating a trip beings more happiness than anticipating the possession of material goods. This is how travelling is good for your mental health. People yearn for new experiences more than monetary and materialistic gains. It is also seen that planned trips make people happier because people feel more in control and less anxious.

Many travellers say that travelling boosts their self esteem and sense of purpose. They feel that they are much more than spokes in a wheel and they get a release from their boring, mundane and almost robotic life. If money was not a concern, they would do nothing but travel and never return to their 9 to 5 job.

Travelling Helps Build Stronger Social Connections

Man is a social animal. We crave interaction with others and when we do not get that, we feel isolated and dejected. Not having friends with whom one can share their lives may lead to loneliness and depression. Travelling helps build stronger relationships. When one is travelling with a friend or a romantic partner, it helps bring them closer and makes them more compatible. There will be times when they have to talk to each other to pass time during delays and time in the hotel. They get an opportunity to learn about each other’s interest and dislikes, but also face difficult situations together.

When one is travelling on their own, they may face situations where they have to interact with strangers. During the train ride or while in the hotel or even while sightseeing, you have to interact with strangers who will guide you around the place and help you enjoy your travelling experience. However, it is important to make the right connections with the right people and not enter dangerous territory. Some of the connections made with strangers may become friendships for life. When we travel to new cities and countries, we interact with people who have different culture and set of beliefs, which we learn and might even adopt. Travelling allows you to try out alternative ways of living without committing to them. When travelling abroad, many travellers prefer to stay as paying guests with local people. They do not like staying in fancy hotels because they do not want to miss out on the local culture, food and lifestyle, not to mention save some money. What was once thought as strange and scandalous may now be seen in a more acceptable light. Having friends and people who you can back on is a confidence booster. Travellers are more likely to succeed in their present job and take up new endeavours because they have people who believe in them. Many people claim to have found love while travelling and they travel the world with them.

Travelling Improves Brain Health

The brain is the most important and complex organ of the body. There are several exercises and methods that are used to improve brain functioning and development. Travelling improves brain health. Travelling to new places and learning new things expands one’s mental horizons and frees them narrow one dimensional thinking.

Travelling to unknown lands means that new things are seen and learned, which means the brain has new things to take note of and remember. Studies have shown that people who travel regularly have better concentration, focus and information retaining capacity. When one travels to an unknown place, they need to remember the directions and landmarks of that place so that they do not get lost. This provides the brain a good work out of sorts and also improves memory.

Routinized activities are the brain’s biggest enemies. They deny the brain an opportunity to grow and develop. The human body is hence reduced to a mere machine. The stress and strain at work too affects the brain negatively. Spending too much time at work or at home leads to release of stress hormones. When you travel in the fresh air, your happy hormones are released. When you are stress free, you automatically become a happier and calmer person. You start to appreciate the minute details of life and also pay closer attention to things that were left ignored. This is how travelling enriches your mental health.

Conclusion

These were a few ways in which travelling benefits mental health. If one is pressed for time or is falling short of money, travelling to different unchartered parts of one’s own city too does the trick. It is not the money spent or distance travelled that matters, it is the experienced gained and memories made that makes all the difference.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 17, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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