Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Everyone looks healthier when they return from their travel. We all notice it and comment on it. The reason they look healthier is because they actually are healthier.
The biggest benefit of travelling is the amount of movement that you will go through. You will constantly be on the go, even if you are taking a trip on a cruise. There are sights to see and things to do! This movement is the cardio vascular exercise that you never find time for at home. It is literally a life saver.
Even if you are eating in vacation style, the chances are the food is higher quality and you will lose weight. No one comes back from vacation heavier.
The great news is that travel has also been shown to help improve brain health. In the routine of daily life things that never change never get attention. Think of a drive to work where you never really see the signs and buildings and people around you any more. Travel gives you the ability to challenge yourself daily, making you think of alternate options and learn new things. You constantly expand your horizons, meaning that your brain is constantly on the go. In fact, training your brain regularly helps to improve its longevity.
Then there is the relaxation. Getting away from the stresses of everyday life is important to protect your overall health. Stress is a silent killer. It raises your blood pressure, and your whole mental health will be affected. The stress hormones cloud the judgement and affect the release of happy hormones. When you travel, you are boosting the release of happy hormones to take over the stress hormones.
Bahrain is the happiest place on the planet. It is so fundamental that their government considers it as a sovereign asset and their tourism promotes it as the main reason to visit. More and more countries and destinations talk about their “happiness index.” You are more happy when you travel. For all kinds of reasons. Sometimes you don’t know how happy you have been until you return to the same old grind. Happiness is infections. When locals are happy, smiling and friendly, it has an immediate knock-on effect. It also serves as a model of what is key to happiness. The people of Cambodia and Laos are notably friendly and cheerful, despite the relative poorness of these countries. When faced with those big beaming smiles, it's hard to be annoyed at the world you left behind. Instantly it lifts your mood and is a good habit to take home.
Whether it's learning a new skill such as map reading, cooking Thai food or learning a new language, travel presents ways in which we can further our knowledge and education. Learning makes our brains more active, which psychologists have found increases our level of happiness - particularly when learning something we find enjoyable. It is impossible to exaggerate the information, facts, data, news, ideas, concept and general knowledge that you accumulate without even trying when you travel. You simply come back home smarter than the average bear.
You don't need to be a 'travel bore' to have a few interesting stories to tell. Travelling throws up a lot of bizarre, funny and sometimes serious situations that relating back to people will make you interesting. Making someone laugh is an easy way to instantly bump up your self-esteem, so hold on to even those embarrassing memories no matter how much they might make you cringe.
Even when flying solo, the act of travel is inevitably a social endeavour. When we travel, we are always making polite conversation, building new friendships, and testing existing ones. People are generally curious about newcomers – especially in small, rural areas – and eager to speak with them. The travel community is one built on friendships forged quickly in the common rooms of hostels, where young travellers from all corners of the world come together, or built from trust and admiration and respect for mature adventurers.
Since the days of the first explorers, the ones that stepped into unsteady, wooden boats and pushed them out into open waters, travel has been about finding a new world. Each time we board a train, plane, or boat, we are embarking on something new. Exploring another country introduces us to new languages, new landscapes, and new ways of living.
Being healthy and happy is a physical thing and beaming smiles come with beaming bodies. The fact that you smile more often, laugh when you relate your experiences, bounce around with more verve because you are exciting, leaner, more confident, makes you extraordinarily more appealing in general. I have heard rumours that you lose 2 years off your apparent age for every week of travel. I’d love to think this is true.