How do I love travel? Let me count the ways.
I’m a natural born adventure seeker. Plain and simple. I love taking in new cultures, trying new food, meeting different people, and exploring this giant playground of an earth.
But while traveling is fun for its own sake, it’s pretty incredible it comes attached with some significant health benefits as well.
Check out these three outstanding health benefits derived from travel, and tap into the reservoir of well-being that awaits you…
- BRAIN HEALTH. Venturing into unknown places requires your brain to be hyper aware of its surroundings and flexible at the same time. You’ve got to be quick as a wink at adapting to new situations, or you might find yourself lost and subject to peril. Research shows this kind of undertaking can improve brain plasticity and overall cognition, because you are facing fresh and novel challenges and environments. When your brain meets uncharted territory, it switches to beginner’s mind. And that, my travel friends, encourages brain health. You could say travel is the ultimate mindfulness meditation!
- GUT HEALTH. Being exposed to different environments, ecosystems and food means being exposed to different microbes. Recently I traveled to Bali, and nearly everyone with me on that retreat experienced a bout of “Bali belly.” Keep in mind, our meals were prepared by Balinese women who cooked traditional food. We weren’t scoping out a local McD’s (probably isn’t one in Bali, but damn I’m surprised how many I see in different countries!) While the “Bali belly” was not the most comfortable experience, I quite enjoyed the cleansing reaction my body took on. After a week I adjusted and felt better than ever. It can take a little time for the body to acclimate when new microbes are introduced, and you certainly want to steer clear of unfriendly bacteria and viruses. But overall, the more varied the beneficial microbes in the ecosystem of you, the healthier your immune system can be. While you should still uphold good hygiene when you traverse the earth, travel can be one of the best probiotics there is.
- HAPPINESS HEALTH. Happiness deserves its own health category, don’t you think? It’s no secret that travel can be a happiness booster. Besides the common viewpoint that travel makes you happy (which certainly adds to the happiness boost), research shows that travel increases reported levels of happiness. And you don’t have to go far to get these benefits. Any new and novel experience can add up to big payoffs. Julia Cameron recommends a weekly Artist’s Date in your own local area. She describes this as a “festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.” Take a new class, visit a museum, or find a local event – whatever floats your boat and doesn’t sink someone else’s. Letting yourself do something fun and playful can keep you inspired and creative and simply finding more joy in your life. Now that sounds like a happy life.
Whether you like to wander the earth or you just want to experience more richness and vividness in the place you call home, consider these three benefits as you experiment with the fun of exploration.
Main photo cred: Dino Reichmuth
Left photo cred: Quinton Atkinson
This photo of me was taken during European travels the summer of 2019. Share your favorite photos or travel health benefits in the comments!
Love & Health,