5 Ways Travel Improves Your Mental and Emotional Health

Camille Dodson
5 Ways Travel Improves Your Mental and Emotional Health

I'm am a huge believer in the the healing power of travel. I write this as I sit in a beachside cafe I San Diego, taking a much needed break from daily life in Seattle. As someone who has long struggled with the emotional and physical effects of anxiety, I've always been amazed to find my symptoms ease the minute I step off the plane and enter "vacation mode".

And this is no coincidence, travel is has the incredible ability to take us outside of ourselves and provide the space we need to find healing. Here are five ways and reasons why.

1. Travel Breaks the Routine

When we have schedules filled from day to night with obligations, our health—and particularly, mental and emotional health—becomes severely neglected. Leaving the house in the dark, returning in the dark, stretching ourselves too thin, it's all incredibly unhealthy.

Sometimes we need to physically leave our home behind to be reminded that we are so much more than a routine. We need time to check in with ourselves and understand what is missing or what is taking too much of our precious energy away from feeling our absolute best every day.

When we travel, we get to sleep in, eat when we’re hungry, exercise at our leisure, and ultimately tune in with our bodies’ needs.

2. Travel Expands Our Horizons

It's so easy to get stuck inside the bubble of our own communities. We become complacent and accepting of the way things are based on the ways things are around us. Traveling shakes these views up in a huge way. Seeing other cultures, landscapes, cities, foods, it all reminds us that there is so much more out there and so many other ways of doing things.

For better or worse, it allows us to reflect back on the way we live our own life and if this is truly the life we want to live. Travel inspires people to make big changes in their lives, whether it's a cross-continent move or simply adopting the eating habits of a different culture.

3. Travel = Meditation

I always find that the physical act of travel can be incredibly meditative. Whether it’s driving an open highway or sitting in the window seat of an airplane, travel provides much time for introspection. It is often in these moments that I have bursts of inspiration about my career, my relationships, or some problem that I’ve been mulling over.

4. Vitamin D and Sea

There’s a reason that so many of us cold weather people flock to the sunshine on our winter vacations. Having a lack of sunshine for a prolonged period of time can actually be detrimental to our health. Traveling somewhere sunny gives us this much needed dose of Vitamin D which can improve our physical and mental health.

There is also so much to be said for spending time close to the ocean. The salt air has a purifying quality while the sight and sound of the ocean offers peace and reflection.

5. Travel is FUN

Yes, this seems obvious, but it’s not to be overlooked. All of us could use a little more fun in our lives. Being with people we love, laughing, and doing things simply because they are exciting and make our souls feel alive are vital to our mental and emotional health. Isn’t this the reason we travel in the first place—to have pure, uninterrupted fun?

I know for me, whenever I come back from a trip, I feel reenergized, focused, and reconnected to myself. Traveling is one of my absolute favorite things to do for the feeling of freedom it provides. It is a feeling that we are often lacking in our daily lives, but one that we should all seek to find as often as we possibly can.

Image credit: Odette Hughes