Scientific facts that prove how travel is connected to good health
Struggling with work, family or life in general? Feeling anxious, overwhelmed or even a bit depressed? Do not hesitate: clear your agenda and embark on a trip with your best friends. If someone says anything, here’s the perfect reason: your health needs a minibreak and doing so with your most trusted friends is the way to heal, according to scientists.
What makes traveling with your friends so good for your mind and body?
The answer is pure chemistry: first, a good amount of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone our body segregates when we are happy. People who are friendly, generous and trustful – all the things we find in our real friends – generally have higher levels of oxytocin in their blood. They are the best ones to have on our side.
Being able to count on friends can lower risks of heart disease, increase life expectancy, and develop a higher tolerance to pain. It is also well-known that individuals who are part of a large circle of friends are less likely to be depressed or to develop dementia.
So forging solid relationships with friends is an important key to our well-being and mental health. Psychologist William Chopik, from Michigan State University, determined that “Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So, it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.”
How traveling is beneficial for your health according to science
Traveling per se is one of the best gifts you can receive (or give). If you plan it well (meaning, choosing the right destination, budget, and companion), you’ll certainly feel invigorated. As a consequence, you’ll improve your health, state of mind and overall well-being. It is important to note that not only adults benefit from traveling. The emotional well-being of children can also be positively impacted by knowing other places and cultures as traveling improves their mental health.
1. We feel happier when planning a trip
A 2002 study, from the University of Surrey (UK), found that people who have a vacation on the horizon feel happier than those who don´t. Who never felt envy when hearing a colleague excitedly tell about her next amazing holidays, especially if you have nothing planned? So if you are the one planning a trip, it´s common to feel greater joy and excitement. You suddenly forget about problem. The study concludes that “it appears that those who are waiting to go on a holiday are much happier with their life as a whole, experience less negative or unpleasant feelings and thus enjoy an overall net positive effect or pleasant feelings.”
Another study, from Cornell University, discovered that experiential purchases (money spent on doing something, like traveling) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having something).
So, yes, expecting and planning a trip makes you feel happier.
2. We manage stress better by traveling
The American Psychological Association did a survey in 2012 and found out that vacations help manage stress and negative emotions by taking us away from sources of stress. Conservationist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols goes beyond. The author of “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do” sustains that when we escape near the water, we become healthier, more creative and even more compassionate.
3. Travel makes us feel healthier
In 2013 the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the U.S. Travel Association joined forces to study whether or not travel makes individuals healthier. The study grasped interesting insights like Americans more readily connect travel to immediate mental and physical health benefits than to long-term benefits; People see travel as an activity that improves their mood and reduces their stress while deepening their connections with other people; and 47% agree that travel is so pleasurable and important to them that it is not a luxury but a necessity.
Americans do link travel to their health, but these connections usually revolve around short-term, immediate benefits such as reduced stress and improved outlook. They are less apt to connect travel with long-term health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease or Alzheimer’s. However, most, especially in their 40s, are motivated to travel for pleasure or leisure after learning that travel can lead to long-term health benefits.
4. Travel makes us objectively healthier
“Vacations may not only be enjoyable but also health promoting” is the main conclusion of this study from the University of Massachusetts. Here they point that men who do not take a vacation for several years are 30% more likely to have a heart attack while those who go on holidays regularly are 21% less likely of such an attack. Women who don´t travel in at least 6 years are eight times more likely to have a heart attack.
The reasons pointed out by researchers are many. First, vacations may reduce stress by removing ongoing stressors and providing a period of peace and safety. Second, traveling is more likely to provide physical activity, which is widely known for causing great good in our body.
Travelers tend to walk more (sometimes easily 10,000 steps a day) and try new activities (hiking, snorkling, trekking, etc.), which have benefits for their mental and physical health.
So, embrace traveling to feel happier, well-rested and more energized when back home.
The 5 best reasons to travel with friends
1. You don´t feel lonely
Having a great buddy to talk to and share your experiences is the first great reason to travel with friends. If you, however, LOVE
2. You feel safer
Having a trusting friend in your adventure makes you feel safe both emotionally and physically. You have someone to talk about intimate things that maybe you simply can´t in your everyday life. Besides, you have someone to accompany you during the trip, especially in parts of the world where traveling alone can be a safety problem (and more if you are a woman). A group is less likely to be robbed than one individual by himself.
3. Experiencing new things with your friends is phenomenal
The quality of our relationships built through life is our personal treasure. Having people to count on, share, listen, reach out, or help is unpayable. Imagine when you add a bunch of cool, nice and lovely new experiences to your history together. The bonds get stronger and you’ll have a whole set of new stories to tell. So, don´t save your friends from your most amazing adventures.
4. It’s cheaper
Objectively speaking, traveling with others makes you spend less. You share hotel rooms, food, car rental, and group activities tickets. As a group, you can negotiate and get better prices in a whole myriad of things: diving, snorkling, boating, wine-tasting, and the list is long-lasting.
However, it’s worth to remember that, financially speaking, you should always plan your trip IN ADVANCE. So that you know how much each one is up to paying for meals, tickets, and everything in between. It can be stressing to deal about money in the middle of your trip. Talk about that before traveling, come to agreements and go enjoy yourself!
5. You know your friends away better
I have a friend who uses to say that one of the best ways to truly know someone is to travel with him/her. I couldn’t agree more. When traveling, you’re challenged, taken out of your comfort-zone all the time (or a good amount of the time). You have to perfect your negotiation skills, open up to listen and practice empathy. As this is a double-way, so does your friend of adventure. You’ll learn how selfish, generous, open, trustful your buddy is, and you may even be happily surprised with what you find out.