In 2013 the US Travel Association launched an independent multi-year, multi million-dollar study to research the benefits of travel on a person’s health. They found some compelling data to prove (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that wanderlust is not only a natural state of mind; acting on it has immeasurable health benefits. So when you’re thinking of taking your next vacation, here are all the good things you’re doing for yourself.
People who took time off to travel were more productive, had higher morale and admitted they felt less compelled to call in sick or take a “mental health day” on the job. They also reported less stress and burnout both on the job and at home.
Tests conducted on travellers a week after taking a vacation and were found to have less anxiety, admitted that they slept better and clinical results showed an overall better marker for things like blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Interestingly, these benefits were still measurable 5 weeks after the trip had ended.
During the study, the USTA also partnered with the Global Commission on Aging and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. What these entities found was that females who vacationed at least twice a year showed a significantly reduced risk of heart attack than those who traveled infrequently. Males who didn’t take vacations presented a 20% higher risk of heart attack and a 30% increased risk of heart disease.
Students who have traveled abroad in the study (compared to those who stayed on home turf) were nearly twice as likely to complete a degree and later reported earning higher incomes by a margin of more than 40%.
Researchers found that (on average) travellers walk more often on vacation. What they found in the test subjects who did walk more was improved heart and brain function compared to a month prior to departure.
Surprisingly, the study revealed that the benefits were not limited to the trip itself. A whopping 98% of test subjects said that the pleasure derived from the anticipation of going on vacation was far more exciting than expecting a material good or receiving a present.
Those people who traveled to another country showed an increase in openness to experience and admitted an increased desire to connect with other people. This backed research that has previously been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. That study had concluded that in effect, we become different people when we travel. The marker that proved this trait was a demonstrated emotional stability and agreeableness in test subjects who had traveled at least twice in a year. According to psychologists these qualities did not exist prior to traveling and had developed or increased as a direct result of their experiences abroad.
Subjects in the study who had been to at least one foreign country revealed that they had a deeper empathy and understanding of other cultures and felt more tolerant in their lives. They also felt less need to get involved in “drama” or conflicts and felt more trusting of people in general.
Couples who traveled together expressed an increased closeness and had an increase in shared interests and goals. All couples who were surveyed said that they felt their ability to work or plan together had improved as had their willingness to compromise. Overall the survey showed that couples felt closer after travelling and … ahem … had reported more activity in the bedroom. Now if that isn’t a reason to travel more, I don’t know what is!