5 Impactful Ways Travel Can Benefit Your Mental Health

The strain of the pandemic, compounded by stressful jobs and busy lives, has given way to the understanding that self-care and work-life balance are key factors to achieving a happy, healthy life. And journeying to a new destination, far or near, brings us joy in otherwise tough times. Traveling offers a much-needed reprieve from the worries of daily life, and more often than not, its cathartic, borderline-therapeutic qualities reinvigorate the spirit. Explore how the joys of travel can benefit your mental health. 

1. Reduce Your Stress In Nature

Whether it’s road-tripping through the Australian Outback or hiking the rainforests of Peru, traveling provides the opportunity to interact with nature on a deep and oftentimes spiritual level. A 2019 study in Frontiers in Psychology even found that spending as little as 20 to 30 minutes immersed in nature can help reduce stress hormone levels significantly. For those who rarely get the opportunity to escape the city for greener settings, getting in touch with nature on your travels can be especially impactful, especially on your mental health. Resident foraging expert Monica Wilde of Alladale Wilderness Reserve explains that her excursions can often feel like a healing experience. “It’s not uncommon at the end of a walk guys are almost tearful when they thank me and say things like ‘Your sense of time just disappears as you start to reconnect with all the tiny plants around us.’”

2. Break Away From Daily Routines

Travel is one of those unique life experiences most of us wish we could do more often. But with stressful jobs and responsibilities at home, it’s easy to get caught up in the monotony of daily routines. Traveling breaks that cycle and offers the chance to explore exciting new places and activities unlike anywhere else in the world. Like walking through the ancient forests of Nepal with a local naturalist, trying authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, or enjoying a picnic under a waterfall in Cambodia. At Zapata Ranch in Colorado, visitors can ride horses on rolling sand dunes or watch in awe as 2,000 wild bison freely roam hilly plains. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences can tide you over rough patches by letting you live in the present. Here, you can unplug from technology and focus on the sanctity of your well-being. 

horse ranch

3. Experience Total Wellness 

Just as self-care helps restore balance in everyday life, it also has the power to inform how and why you travel. A gratifying wellness retreat has the ability to put you back in touch with yourself and your priorities. Enjoying a mindfulness experience or a day at the Ayurvedic spa can do wonders to revitalize the body and soul. Many times, these healing activities are set amidst a tranquil wilderness with breathtaking views of the natural environment. Regenerative Travel’s Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge offers Ananda yoga classes that overlook Nepal’s majestic Himalayan landscape while Malaysia’s premier getaway The Datai Langkawi integrates the ancient philosophies of Ramuan into the hotel’s wellness practices. Best of all, the techniques learned on these retreats can be brought home and added to preexisting self-care rituals. 

4. Explore New Cultures And Meet New People 

One of travel’s greatest gifts is the joy that comes with getting to experience new cultural landscapes and meeting interesting people along the way. A traveler is a lifelong learner. Every destination offers the opportunity to gain knowledge about the local culture through the individuals and communities who help keep it alive. At Sri Lanka’s Gal Oya Lodge, guests can interact with the indigenous Vedda people and learn about the medicinal properties of endemic plants on an informative nature walk. Patagonia’s Hotel AWA offers slow food tours where guests visit a traditional market and later cook what they buy. Adventuring to new spaces can expand your outlook to include those perspectives outside your normal periphery. In the process, it opens you up to new experiences and puts you on the path to becoming a more well-rounded citizen of the world. 

5. Boost Your Creativity And Confidence

A creative slump is often a symptom of your surroundings. Moving away from familiar spaces to beautiful environments rich in inspiration can be the change of pace needed to get those creative juices flowing once again. Travel creates countless opportunities to let your imagination run wild and can help build up confidence in the skills you feel you lack. A study done by ECU Business School law professor Sam Huang found that among 472 backpackers who were asked how travel impacted their confidence levels, 86% said they had experienced an increase, 83% thought their anxiety and stress had been relieved, and 70% felt they had taken a more positive attitude toward themselves. 

For more information on mental health, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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