4 Unexpected Benefits of Travel: Why You Should Go Now
People are happier buying experiences like travel than material goods
You know why you love traveling. Seeing new places. Having new experiences. Meeting new people. Collecting new memories.
The benefits of travel are farther-reaching and longer-lasting than you may imagine. Find out four ways that travel can impact your life: everything from your mood to your career to your health.
You’ll be happier.
Who doesn’t want to be happier? Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich has been studying the connection between money and happiness for more than 20 years. He and others have conducted studies where they’ve asked people to report their happiness after major material and experiential purchases.
Experiences make us happier than material goods because they become a bigger part of our identity
Over time, people are less happy with the things they bought. One reason: they get bored with them. But they’re more satisfied with the experiences they spent money on. As Gilovich told Fast Company, “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
However, experiences become a bigger part of our identity. If we share them with others, we feel more connected to them. You’re more likely to bond with someone who also sailed the Greek Islands than someone who owns the same model of iPhone.
There are more benefits of travel experiences, particularly in this era of social media. One study found that people are more likely to compare material purchases than experiential ones. You may be jealous of your Facebook friend’s new BMW, but you won’t feel the same envy over his trip to Paris.
“The tendency of keeping up with the Joneses tends to be more pronounced for material goods than for experiential purchases,” Gilovich told Fast Company.
Buying experiences rather than things makes us happier. Those benefits of travel happen even before we’ve had the experience. Another study found that people enjoyed waiting for an experience more than waiting for a material possession. Book your next vacation as soon as you can to get the maximum possible excitement and happiness that comes from the anticipation.
Overall, a significant 80% of workers believe that travel improves their general mood and outlook toward life.
Interacting with different cultures when you’re traveling enhances creativity
You’ll be more creative.
Travel has always inspired artists and writers: think of Hemingway in Spain or Van Gogh in France.
Recently scientists have been studying the link between spending time abroad and mental change. They say that new experiences – sounds, smells, languages, tastes and sights – spark different synapses in the brain. That means they may be able to revitalize the mind and enhance creativity. The key to experiencing this benefit of travel is immersing yourself in a different culture.
“Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment,” says Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School who studies the connection between creativity and international travel.
Galinsky told The Atlantic that living in a more familiar culture sparks more creativity than a place with a larger cultural gap. The theory: an extremely different culture may be more intimidating, which may discourage people from embracing it.
Travel helps you see the bigger pictures, which will help you when you’re back at work
You’ll have greater career success.
The benefits of travel extend to your career in two ways: you’ll gain new inspiration, perspective and contacts to bring back to work with you. And you’ll return refreshed and productive.
Writer Jessica Mattern found five benefits of travel for your career:
- International exploration provides inspiration. Experiencing how other cultures work will give you new ideas, solutions, and ways to approach earlier problems.
- Travel gives you time to rest and refresh. Getting away from the daily grind will help you decompress mentally.
- You’ll see the bigger picture. Stepping out of your world and into another lifts away stress. It helps you focus less on your problems and more on your priorities. Once you let go of smaller issues, you can concentrate on doing your best work.
- Exposure to new cultures teaches you new values and perspectives. For example, a friendly local lifestyle may encourage you to engage more with others. You’ll return home with a new emphasis on camaraderie.
- You’ll meet new people. Maybe it’s your plane or train seatmate or that couple seated next to you at dinner. The networking opportunities are excellent.
HR managers believe employees who take vacations perform better and are more satisfied on the job than others:
- 77% believe that employees who use most or all of their vacation time are more productive than those who take less vacation
- 78% associate taking advantage of vacation time with higher employee job satisfaction
After taking time off, 67 percent of employees said they felt refreshed once back at work, 32 percent felt more focused, and 40 percent were less stressed.
Vacations can lower stress levels, blood pressure and risk of heart attacks
You’ll be healthier.
Numerous studies have found there are many health benefits to travel:
- Women who vacationed every six years or less had a significantly higher risk of dying of heart problems compared with women who vacationed at least twice a year.
- After only a day or two, 89% of respondents saw significant drops in stress.
- An annual vacation can cut a person’s risk of heart attack by 50 percent.
- One study found middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease who take frequent vacations are 21% less likely to die of any cause and 32% less likely to die of heart disease.
- One doctor says that a vacation of as little as a day or two can help reduce your blood pressure, heart rate and levels of the stress hormone epinephrine.
Enjoy these benefits of travel
Now that you know about these unexpected benefits of travel, book a trip! A Virtuoso travel advisor can partner with you to plan a trip that will leave you happier, more creative, more successful and healthier.
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