Did you know traveling farther is good for your health and longevity? Today, on National Plan a Vacation Day, we share studies that prove it. So go ahead and book that trip, but make sure to Plan with a Pro to reap the best benefits and experience the least stress about that doctor-prescribed vacation.
Back in the Victorian era, travelers used to head to faraway shores for sea air to heal their “constitutions.” In modern day, people say they do it for the good of their souls, and not necessarily for their health. However, recent studies have shown that those of ye olden dayes may have been onto something, as traveling farther away from home has now been linked to better health.
According to recent research by UCL in London in an article published by www.NeuroscienceNews.com, those who travel more outside of their local areas – over 15 miles – feel they’re healthier than those who stay close to home. Apparently, those who travel to a wider variety of places are more likely to see friends and family and engage with others; this social participation is linked to better health.
And it’s not just perceived physical health that benefits from continuing to travel. Stateside, GoodRx has reported that traveling offers benefits to both your body and your mind. In fact, this article suggests that a staycation close to home (but greater than those 15 miles the UCL cited) can even have an effect. So go ahead and check out that new hotel a few towns over by checking in – ALG Vacations® actually offers plenty of domestic options across the U.S. for passport-free travel.
However, keep in mind that a Twitter study revealed that the happiness users experience increases the further they are from home, based on feelings-associated keywords. The Harvard Business Review reported that 84% of “the best trips over the past five years were to locations outside of the country,” and that 94% of participants in a study found “traveling during the vacation to be more meaningful than a vacation.”
“Traveling has been associated with a decrease in heart disease risk, lower stress levels, and improved physical activity and well-being,” this GoodRx article, written by a nutritionist, says.
A nine-year study study published by Psychosomatic Medicine has discovered that those who vacationed every year had about 30% less risk of dying from heart disease, and an important 20-year Framingham Heart Study revealed that not only is the latter true, but those who took only one vacation every six years were about 2.5 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who took a time-out at least once per year. This is likely due to the decrease in stress, too, as levels stay lower for up to 30 – 45 days after vacation!
But the fact of the matter is, as leisurely as vacations can be, they also do promote physical activity as we’re released from the tethers of our desks. Booking a tour or excursion – whether they’re guided tours in Europe (check out our new Europe Travelogue for the full catalog of activities!) or light adventure excursions with ALG Vacations® tour and transfer partner Amstar DMC in Mexico, the Caribbean, or Hawaii – means that you’re out and about, moving around during the day hours you’re normally just sitting there.
Traveling also boosts your immune system, doctors say. Dr. Terrell Smith, the Director of Clinical Health at Spora Health, was quoted in the GoodRx story saying that, “When you’re exposing yourself to a range of different ecosystems, your body can get adapted to different types of bacteria and create stronger antibodies that keep you healthy,” provided you sleep well and eat mindfully.
Plus, did you know continuing to process new information also helps slow down the perception of time? Science has proven that the more we experience, the slower time seems to pass. Breaking out of routine and seeking out novelty can actually help to keep life from passing you by at a quick pace. So even if that vacation doesn’t technically extend your life (and it seems it might!), it will at least feel like it!
All of this sounds pretty good to us, but there is a caveat: for best effect, best Plan with a Pro.
When the Harvard Business Review published findings on When a Vacation Reduces Stress – And When It Doesn’t, and their biggest takeaway was that “poorly planned and stressful vacations eliminate the positive benefits of time away.” So while “a positive, well-managed vacation can make you happier and less stressed,” creating “more energy at work and more meaning in your life,” trying to DIY and taking stabs in the dark without the advice of a professional travel advisor can undo all the good a great vacay can provide.
That’s because the biggest stressors of a trip are managing details and lack of knowledge about the destination, which creates uncertainty. And that’s where a travel advisor steps in to ensure smooth sailing, no matter which seaside vacationers are taking their old-fashioned constitutional.