We almost all enjoy travel in some capacity, whether it’s to far-off exotic destinations, or to the familiar family cottage, seeing different parts of the world excites us and comes with a lot of enjoyable aspects. But does travel actually have the power to heal, both psychologically and physically, and to help you personally develop?
The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Travel
Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Anxiety Toolkit, offered some insight into the positive psychology of travel in her My Psychology Today blog. In this particular blog post, she outlines five psychologically founded reasons for why travel actually possesses healing and developmental properties. These are:
- Travel offers you geographic distance, which leads to improved and often more creative or expansive problem solving.
- Travel allows for opportunities to be open to new experiences, which builds skills and capacities that would otherwise not exist. Like learning a new language.
- Travel can lead to the development of more fluid and expansive self-concepts, specifically when experiencing moments of fear and moving past them.
- Travel offers moments of relaxation, which holds many psychological and physical healing properties.
- Travel can stir up and feed curiosity, while adding purpose and meaning to life, as well as solidifying self-confidence.
Aside from travel making you a more positive or happy person, it also works to make you a more well-rounded person, by making you deal with specific situations that afford for the development of specific personal characteristics.
The Personal Self-Development Benefits of Travel
Probably one of the most significant results of travel that borders between self-development and health is that of making memories. We often travel for the experience of it, and we feel happiness while we are abroad. However, when we come home, what we’ve returned with is the real, long-lasting benefit of travel. Memories of awe-inspiring moments while traveling can help sustain the feelings we experienced while on that vacation: the joy or contentment or the self-assured confidence, for example.
The memories of a trip are what really last a lifetime. This is why solidifying these unforgettable moments in pictures or in writing is a great idea, such as building an online scrapbook by creating a travel blog. This can be such a beneficial practice and more precious than physical souvenirs, as photos and a well-written account of your experiences puts you right back there living that amazing moment all over again.
Some other long-lasting benefits are developing healthy characteristics. Things like learning to be alone, spending some much needed me time and working through fears, insecurities, or thoughts that will help you to become a more complete and grounded person. On the other side of the coin, travel also helps you develop the ability to step outside of your comfort zone and be more likely to try new things, meet interesting people and forge lasting friendships at home as well as abroad.
Travel can also help you learn to live with less and to be content. We tend to live with only the basics while travelling, or at least what we can fit in our backpacks or suitcases, which can help us put things into perspective and appreciate what we have all the more. Being away from home, family, and even your workplace gives you time to actually miss it. You can return not only feeling refreshed, but feeling a new appreciation for the things that may have become mundane.
Often we spend so much unhealthy time focusing on the past or the future, that we miss out on really being able to just live in and enjoy the present. Travel is all about soaking in the moment and taking things one day at a time. Everyone travels differently and reacts to experiences in their own way. However you decide to undertake these moments that give life so much meaning, be sure that you do. They may be exactly what you need in the long run.
Image by gareth1953 Cataract Creating Chaos under creative common license