Why Travel is Important for Your Mental Health [11 Compelling Reasons]

There are plenty of good arguments about why travel is important. But did you know there are at least eleven compelling reasons that it’s good for your mental health? Whether you’re planning next year’s big trip or simply looking forward to a Sunday drive, travel can have positive psychological effects on your psyche. Discover the ways travel is beneficial to your mental health, below.

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CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn why travel is important to your mental health, including:

*Editor’s note: Enjoy Travel Life does not endorse travel during the pandemic. The information in this post is intended for your use in planning post-pandemic travel.

Travel Offers Psychological Benefits

Travel is one of those things that virtually everyone looks forward to, especially now while safe travel is limited.

For many of us, our annual vacations are the highlight of our year.  Memories made on those trips are often some of the best and most uplifting moments we’ve accumulated over the course of our lives.

It comes as a surprise to some that travel has real psychological benefits beyond the obvious perks of getting a bit more sun or taking a rest from work for a while.

There is value in staying in new locations on a regular basis, whether that means seeking out an apartment for sale in a tropical locale for the winter, or weekend breaks in great cultural cities around the world.

Under normal circumstances, travelers sometimes feel guilty about travel, or feel they need to justify a trip.

Well, here’s all the justification you might need: We came up with 11 psychological benefits of staying in new locations on a regular basis that make compelling arguments about why travel is important.

Not that we think you need to justify your vacation plans to anyone…but here’s all the validation you need to hear.

11 Ways Travel Is Good for Your Mind

1. Travel Reveals Growth Opportunities

When you find yourself sitting in an apartment in a foreign city, and looking out over an unfamiliar view, it’s difficult not to end up comparing the life you are living to the kinds of hypothetical lives you could be living.

This can occur both in “positive” and “negative” contexts. 

For example, you may find that you enjoy some elements of your experience in the travel destination so much, that you really want to make some active changes in your current lifestyle to bring it closer to that standard.

On the other hand, you could also notice that there are things about the lifestyle of people in the area you are visiting that you are very glad you are not subject to. This, in turn, can give you a newfound sense of appreciation and perspective for the blessings present in your everyday life.

In any case, spending time in different locations can really help you to reflect on alternate possibilities and modes of life. Then, determine in which direction you want to grow. This brings you from a limiting belief mindset to one motivated to grow in new ways–which is a much healthier mindset!

2. You’ll Gain a Broader Perspective of the World

Travel offers you a bigger picture perspective, giving some distance from your normal everyday concerns.

We all end up feeling “stuck-in-a-rut” from time to time. We find ourselves dealing with particular circumstances in our everyday lives that we aren’t happy with, but that we don’t know how to change. Perhaps it’s more prevalent now than ever.

When you are directly caught up in the ebb and flow of everyday life, it can be very difficult to get a high-level perspective. But that’s exactly what’s needed to help you to put things in their proper context, and figure out just what kinds of changes deserve priority.

When you travel to a new location and spend some time there, you naturally remove yourself from the context of your everyday experiences and concerns. You see the wider context of the world and suddenly, problems and irritations that have troubled you are not really so big in the scheme of things.

By stepping out of the details this way, and opening your eyes to other places in the world, you’ll gain objectivity in how your view your life.

Using this fresh perspective, it’s easier to come up with solutions you might have otherwise failed to notice. And, you can stop fixating on minor problems that you recognize as a waste of energy, once you have a broader perspective.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, right?

3. Renews Your Sense of Wonder and Curiosity

One of the key reasons why travel is important and so in the first place is because when we visit new places, it puts us in a more receptive state of mind. Then, we can begin experiencing the world with a renewed sense of wonder and curiosity.

As children, we are almost always filled with a kind of awe, wonder, and curiosity – things that make the world seem fascinating and magical. As we get older, however, it is all too common to become jaded and distracted; to end up losing that sense of the world as an amazing place.

It’s not the world that has changed (although it has in some ways), it’s more that we’ve stopped paying attention to or become desensitized to the every day beauty around us.

By traveling to new locales that you find genuinely fascinating, there is a good chance you can rekindle that powerful and uplifting outlook on the world–and life as a whole.

And a positive outlook can do wonders for your mental health.

4. Travel Helps You Become More Intuitive

Generally speaking, when you are traveling to new locations while on vacation, you become more mindful of the power of the present moment.

“Being present” means gaining an awareness of our thoughts and feelings in the moment in a way you might not have the space or opportunity on an everyday basis.

Intuition and inspiration are at the heart of who we are as individuals, and frequently connect to our deepest aspirations and motivation.

By traveling to new places and engaging and reflecting on the present moment, there is a good chance that you will come away with certain revelations about the meaning of your life–and intuitively have a better sense of how you want to adjust your life going forward.

5. Inspires New Creativity

Have you ever noticed when you return from a trip, you have all kinds of stories you want to tell about your adventure?

Maybe you kept a journal on the road, or snapped a thousand photographs and selfies.

Travel inspires creativity, whether that means you:

  • Create a scrapbook that captures your experiences
  • Share photos on social media
  • Paint the landscape on canvas
  • Recreate a recipe you had abroad
  • Blog about your trip

And creativity is very beneficial to your mental health!

For one, it can help you focus your mind in a positive way.

It also has calming effects on the brain and body, comparable to meditation.

Creative activities, such as crafting or gardening, reduces anxiety, depression, and stress. It can also help you process trauma.

So, anything that inspires creativity, like travel, is a big win for your mental health!

6. Helps You Stay Fit, Physically and Mentally

It’s funny how much ground you cover in a day when traveling.

Let’s get real. The thought alone of walking, biking, or hiking all day when you’re home is exhausting.

But somehow, when traveling, your adrenaline goes into overdrive and suddenly it’s a breeze–and you’re excited to get to it!

It’s no surprise that getting up off the couch, away from your laptop, and getting some physical activity is good for your body.

But for your mind?

Indeed!

Getting some excercise while you travel enhances your mood and reduces stress.

It has the opposite effect on your energy than you might have guessed–it boosts it!

And, you’ll get a better night’s sleep. Anyone who’s known an overtired child (or spouse) recognizes how important sleep is to attitude.

The great thing is, you don’t really have to plan it. When you travel, you’ll probably:

  • Take walks
  • Stretch your legs
  • Be out in the fresh air
  • Spend less time sitting

For bonus points, you might even rent bikes so you can cover more ground faster than on foot, and in a more ecologically conscious way than the car. Or how about doing yoga on the beach?

Are you getting excited about this yet?

7. Travel Combats Stress

Day to day life can be stressful under the most basic circumstances.

Stress is bad for you.

Not only does it create feelings of anxiety and depression, it just feels downright terrible.

Stress also has physical effects on your well-being, like increasing your blood pressure or affecting your heart health which in turn, may give you more to worry about. What a vicious cycle!

But when you travel, you release this stress.

That’s because simply engaging with your surroundings in a more playful way and doing things you love can release tension.

A beautiful scene promotes a peaceful frame of mind.

Stopping to fully appreciate the moment counters stressful thoughts.

Sure, you might have some stress about which train to catch or if you have enough time spend in the art museum. But that’s a different kind of stress the pressures of work and home.

With good travel planning, you can alleviate that stress as well.

8. Builds Resilience

When you travel more, you become more resilient.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back after difficulties. It allows you to adapt to your circumstances, good or bad.

When you travel, you learn to remain open and flexible, as plans change and you learn new information as your adventure evolves.

Turns out, this is a very good life skill!

Rather than having a rigid mindset that might hinder your mental health, developing resilience helps prepare you to adapt to day-to-day challenges in your life.

It’s like a mental-health super-power!

Be ready to pivot and adapt at a moment’s notice, and your psyche (and those around you) will thank you.

9. Boosts Your Happiness

Travel makes you happy. Enough said.

10. Travel Leads You to Prioritize Self Care

It’s easy to put ourselves last on the list when it comes to our family and friends’ needs.

Think about it. How often do you put yourself first?

And yet, how do we expect to care for others when we ourselves are eschewing our basic needs?

But when you travel, especially solo, it’s an opportunity for you to prioritize your own needs and self-care.

You know that airplane safety analogy: put your own mask on before your child’s mask?

Well, it’s a good practice in every day life once in a while. You be self-aware and take care your physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing for the sake of your mental health.

When you take care of yourself, everyone wins.

Taking a trip by yourself is a great way to do so!

11. Strengthens Your Confidence & Self-Esteem

Finally, travel strengthens your confidence and self-esteem, mental health factors that are so important to your relationships, success, and self-love.

When you travel, you take chances and learn new things.

You discover that strangers welcome you with open hearts.

You navigate unknown places and arrive at your goal.

And you learn that you are very capable of taking care of yourself.

Final Thoughts on Why Travel is Important

Now that have enough evidence to more thoroughly understand why travel is important, go ahead, work that bucket list. Plan to spend winter in the Caribbean. Or just get out in your car and go for a long drive.

It will be restorative to your mental health, even enhance your psyche through travel — if no other way than by dreaming more about traveling.

If you enjoyed learning why travel is important for your mental health, this next article about being a mindful traveler is a great follow-up!

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This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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