Does travel make you happy?
Updated: May 13
Travel changes you in numerous ways. Not only does it affect your physical and mental health, but it also evokes positive emotions. When we plan out our next trip, pack our bags, or board that flight, we get excited. We break away from our routine life at home and step into the unknown. Exploring destinations, the beauty of nature, and meeting new people instantly take away our worries and stress of home and work.
So the simple answer is YES. Travel is the secret ingredient to a happy life!
Scientific research has proven this over and over again. For example, at the Happiness 360 Conference in 2016, it was revealed that the happiest people travel more. Another study, conducted by Cornell University, has shown that people even experience increased happiness from just planning their holiday. This proves that the benefits of traveling already occur before the actual trip does.
5 reasons why travel makes you happy
1. Travel creates lasting memories
The results of research conducted by Cornell University in 2017 found that happiness is greater when going on vacation than acquiring material objects. If we purchase a physical object, our happiness will steadily fade because we get used to it. On the other hand, if we invest in travel experiences, it will bring us joy and memories that will last longer or even a lifetime.
This means that spending money on a fancy car, phone, or outfit is not going to bring the same happiness as experiences. After a few weeks or months, you will get accustomed to your brand new car or phone, and you become more restless. Soon you may be dreaming about upgrading your phone because it is slower and getting "old".
There is nothing you can buy in a shopping mall that can match exploring a new destination. When you travel abroad, you will indulge yourself in new experiences, like meeting people, learning about cultures, or traversing landscapes you have never witnessed before. These new experiences will create lasting memories. Memories we will share with others and think about in our future lives. Thinking about a positive experience is what makes you instantly happier.
2. Travel fosters existing relationships
Social connections play the most crucial role in one's life and happiness. These relationships may be with your partner, family, friends, or even the greater community around you. Relationships are strongly connected to our emotions. Close and positive relationships evoke feelings of happiness, peacefulness, and satisfaction, while non-existing or negative relationships destroy us and bring feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
One of the best ways to foster existing relationships is by sharing experiences. When traveling together, you will share moments and create memories that last a lifetime. These moments will bring you closer to each other, hence build stronger connections to one another. This connection does wonders for your relationship as well as your happiness!
3. Travel builds new relationships and connections
In addition to your existing relationships, travel will also allow you to build new relationships and connections. Travel creates opportunities to meet people who you otherwise would never have met. Being in the same 'unknown' situation will make it easier to connect to one another. You have something in common because you both ended up in the same destination and you may even share experiences. Even though these relationships often feel timely, they are easy to pick up on once you meet again. Or in some cases (just like us), these new relationships will become part of your new life. Whether this means a romance, friendship, or business relationship.
This is not the same while staying at home. People in your immediate environment aren't always as open to new relationships. They already have their own "clique" of friends and it is hard to become part of that. We often have no time or energy to meet new people when we are in the routine of our 9 to 5 life.
4. Travel rewires your brain and enhances creativity
Neuroscientists explain that travel rewires our brains because new experiences are core to building new neural pathways in the brain. When your brain rewires, you also become more creative and productive. Adam Galinsky, a professor at the Columbia Business School, stresses that immersing in the local culture of that destination is essential. Merely traveling to a different country or city without fully immersing yourself is not going to make any difference. We've found this to be true for ourselves as well. We always strive to "live in the moment" while traveling and it has enabled us to write our most inspiring travel articles, videos, and art while on the road.
5. Traveling keeps us healthy
Research has demonstrated that traveling keeps us healthy! A study conducted by the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that women who travel at least twice a year are less likely to have a heart attack than those who only vacation every six years or more. Also, men who do not take an annual holiday are more likely to die of a heart disease. The bottom line is that the happier you are, the healthier you are, and vice verse. And one way to stay happy and healthy is to travel!
Looking for more inspiration to travel? Check out our Travel Inspiration Resources, including other blog posts, inspirational travel quotes, videos, and success stories from other travelers.
Have you experienced that traveling makes you happy or happier? Comment below!