Recently, Total Travel reported on some interesting results from a recent study conducted by Booking.com. Women rated a surprise trip as more meaningful above material things such as jewellery. This article made me wonder – are we turning more to travel for the benefit of our wellbeing?
If we do think about these findings in the context of our wellbeing, there’s quite a compelling message here. I know which I would prefer in order to give my wellbeing a boost, particularly when my daily life is so busy multi-tasking between work and home commitments. It’s imperative that we all take the steps involved to ensure we give ourselves the time we need to stop, be present and give ourselves a well-earned break. Travel has a way of ticking these boxes.
Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology theorised there are five essential pillars to wellbeing in his PERMA model:
- Positive emotions
Just by reading these words, we can see an immediate, clear connection between travel and our wellbeing.
Let’s look at these connections in more detail.
Travel triggers positive emotions
Part of our ability to feel good is to feel positive. Just the sheer act of booking a flight overseas or making a weekend B&B reservation helps me feel good virtually right away. There’s both a thrill and a rush of excitement whenever I make that final click of the mouse to finalise my booking. When I’m on the road, positivity is also triggered by new sights, sounds and tastes.
Experiencing a new destination for the first time makes me feel ever so present in the moment and revitalises my ability to take in the simplest of stimuli – feeling the wind on my face during a bike ride, breathing in crisp air while hiking, wandering through a national park and discovering native wildlife or eating a breakfast on an outdoor terrace with an ocean view.
Travel helps us to engage our world
Do you ever feel bored at times? Feeling bored may set in on a cold, wet day indoors, or working a job where we’re not taking part in stimulating tasks. This boredom makes us feel stuck and, at times, with a sense that the boredom won’t shift. The result is that our inner strength and momentum diminishes.
When we travel, we’re active in our world. We’re actively seeking out a new activity to try, wander unexplored streets and engage with locals through conversation and transactions. It’s often rare that we would feel bored when we travel. By travelling, we are literally creating a momentum for ourselves and building on our personal strengths.
Relationships are forged or even strengthened when we travel
Whether it’s travelling via a tour group or embarking on a travel gap year, travel gives us a valuable chance to forge new relationships in faraway destinations. We find friendships among locals, other ex-pats and travellers alike. Some travellers have even found their life partners through travel. Travel is also a great way to nourish our existing relationships, like a little weekend getaway with a partner or close friends and family.
Loneliness is detrimental to our health. So, it’s part of human nature to be social and form connections so we can strengthen our wellbeing for the long haul. All the camping trips with my family as kid and the extensive travel my husband and I have completed together come to mind here for me. Then there are all the travellers and locals we’ve met along the way.
Travel gives us a sense of meaning
One famous travel quote tells us that “not all those who wander are lost”. There is a strong urge to wander when we travel, and it’s rarely done aimlessly. Some travel to complete a pilgrimage for religious reasons and others may complete a hike that was undertaken by soldiers fighting in a world war. Travel for meaning doesn’t always have to involve physical activity like this either. Some travellers travel to donate their time and effort to a charity or humanitarian group, and many professionals offer their services pro bono in communities where essential services are lacking. Meaning gives us a chance to feel a part of our community, whether it’s our immediate community or a community that’s foreign to us. Travel is a valuable avenue to revive our sense of meaning of our world, too.
We can accomplish many things when we travel
Being successful in life will look different from person to person. For me, personal success means bedding down the basics – earning money in which to buy the essentials, keeping my shelves stocked with food, maintaining a roof over my head and keeping clothes on my back. Sure, I’ve had other aspirations along the way like graduating from university and establishing then working on my career. Though, my wanderlust has proven to fuel an aspiration that has been with me for the largest span of my life; outweighing many others. For me, I aspire to travel to as many countries as I can and see all the sights I've’ dreamed about seeing since I was very little.
Goals and aspirations can only be created by our own selves and it’s all in our power to make them a reality. Only then is when our wellbeing can truly benefit from our sense of accomplishment. Despite having a long way to go, I’m already feeling accomplished in my travel aspirations!
How has your wellbeing benefited through travel? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.
If you need some help in making travel happen more in your life, have a wander through my travel tips.