Whether travel benefits you is dependent on how you travel, with whom you travel, and the conditions under which you travel.
While all travel is beneficial to an extent, travel that restricts you to segregated resorts and where the only local you see is the one cleaning your toilet has limited benefits.
Resorts can be fun. Bringing your family to a resort for an international wedding is nice because they get a vacation out of your life event. This keeps people who might not be suited to living like the locals an opportunity to at least see another place.
Fortunately, sights do not define a place. The life that happens in those spaces is what defines a place!
Here at Hangover Throat we champion the benefits of international travel for all the great health benefits associated with joining the locals on their level and erasing the barrier of hierarchy that characterizes the isolated experience of luxury for tourists visiting resorts around the world.
What are the health benefits of international travel?
- Improves mental health
- Boosts happiness
- Promotes creativity
- Relieves stress
- Contributes to life satisfaction
- Stall burnout (which is partly a health benefit and partly a benefit to an employer)
- Improve job performance
- Strengthen family bonds
It is no surprise that all of these health benefits lower negative impacts on your heart. That means heart disease and heart attacks are lowered by international travel.
Granted, this is not a simple causal relationship. However, the relationship is real and scientifically proven. University of Alabama Medicine has the proof on this website. For a complete review of the scientific literature (a few years old now, but that does not disprove the science) you can refer to this article in the Journal of Travel Research. Here is another from the Annals of Tourism Research. For popular reporting on benefits see this article.
Research is conducted on any imaginable topic. This too is a benefit of international travel. You see the world and in learning about the world, you start to think about why the world works the way it does.
This is why I promote not going to college.
On Skipping College, for a while
There is so much to learn about the world that you cannot learn from college. Going to college you have to learn not only about the world, but also the academics as well. This is challenging and unnecessary.
Moreover, college is a mechanism of putting people into debt so that they are obedient workers. Before doing that to yourself (or instead of) you should travel. Europeans are known for taking a year or so off after graduation to travel the world. Their parents support them.
Learn about the world first! The world is massive. There is so much out there that people will never know about.
If you are young, you can forego college now. Later you will be one of the few in a college classroom that can actually relate to the content. This launches you toward your future.
Maybe you already had your chance at college and finished. That does not mean it is too late. You can still benefit from travel. It will still launch you toward your future.
In college, so much focus is placed on grades and degree acquisition. That stupid piece of paper is worthless! Ok not worthless, but the real benefit of college is in social networking. You meet new people who you draw on in the future in any number of capacities.
These relationships are not simple means-end relationships where you use them for your personal gain. No, they are lifelong friendships that situate you on firm ground.
But colleges are very limited experiences. The people that attend them come from the same backgrounds many times. There might be a small international student body, but are you likely to encounter them if you’ve been isolated in suburbs your whole life?
Are you likely to make friends with a person who might be super loud or extremely reserved and quiet? This is the diversity that travel exposes you to. Because it is outside the classroom, your interactions are fundamentally different. They are not dependent on the class or an assignment.
Finally, a benefit of not going to college and traveling around instead is learning to value yourself independent of someone else’s evaluation of you. From childhood through to adulthood, you are evaluated. You learn to value yourself based on other peoples perceptions of you. But you rarely have an opportunity to find yourself and explore your interests or things you do not like. You rarely even have the time and space to learn the difference between discomfort and dislike.
Travel helps you learn to get comfortable with discomfort. To learn that despite discomfort, you can have fun and you can enjoy yourself. Through such experiences you learn about yourself and have an opportunity to become fully self-actualized.
How to Achieve The Benefits of Travel
Becoming full self-actualized is a matter of strategy in travel. You have places you want to go and you have places you might not think you’d enjoy.
Step one is getting your pre-set ideas out of your head. Sure, go to Ireland and see what it is all about. But then go to Tanzania or Togo, Guatemala or Colombia. These are vastly different countries. You might think a country is poor and dirty but then realize that those stereotypes are meant to keep you from a certain type of knowledge about the world and that knowledge transforms you.
The reason I oppose restricting yourself to resorts is 1) they are expensive and 2) they provide limited experiences. The whole experience is sterilized and stylized to make it Instagrammable. You can eat mass produced food imported from who knows where or sit by a pool/beach. That sounds like it’d be nice for a day or two or three, but I would get bored quickly and never actually relax. I’d be too busy worrying about something from back home and longing to get back to it. It is almost like resorts are built to create that sentiment.
Instead, try immersing yourself in the culture and getting to know how people live. This is where all the benefits of travel come from.
Travel Promotes Creativity
International travel benefits your brain by facilitating a process of cognitive flexibility, or the ability to transfer knowledge between disparate situations. We might also say life experience benefits us because it gives us knowledge of different situations and how similarities exist between those situations.
Travel Stalls Burnout
Travel serves you by slowing the process of burnout. Burnout is a result of over work and stress, it can be stalled by traveling. By traveling you are exposing yourself to something different and getting your mind focused on something entirely different. In the process you are getting your creative juices flowing so that when (or if) you do return to that job leading to burnout you will be equipped with experiences to help you ride that wave a little longer.
Travel Increases Happiness
Studies have also found that even in planning a trip, you experience an increase in happiness that is far greater than that provided by shopping for a material possession.
Planning a trip is exciting. You are in control. You get to make the decisions. It is freedom in a world where we often do not have such freedoms. It is knowing you have an opportunity to relax, unwind, and do as you please. This is so rare today–the opportunity to relax. Cherish the opportunity. Seize the opportunity when you have the chance.
The anticipation of a trip produces excitement in your person. It gives you a sense of want, a sense of being alive. These are feelings we try to promote at Hangover Throat. We want you to be all that you can be, to enjoy your life because you are in control.
Travel itself increases happiness. Your brain and body love new experiences, even if you conscious mind might have you thinking otherwise. By creating new memories, you are building up tools in your brain that help you process information.
Luxury travel experiences are niceties, but really traveling to know the world is entirely different.
You do not need that Instagrammable image. You can get that Instagram post without staying in a luxury accommodation too. Many places allow visitors or sell other types of services that give you access to those Instagrammable locations.
By encountering new people and places in the context of life in that place, you are exposed to things that change how you see the world. When you adapt to life in a new place, you gain life skills that transfer into other areas of your life.
And you can never go back. You are always developing as a person. Personal growth and development are two keys to happiness.
Travel Delivers Life Satisfaction
If you think the United States is the greatest country on earth, how do you know that if you have not travelled? What is it about the U.S. that is so great? If all you can do is draw on emotional feelings, you might want to reevaluate and take a trip to figure out an answer to this question. For example, if you said “freedom” but do not have anything substantive that distinguishes this idea then I am not convinced you know what it is that makes the U.S. a free country.
Life experiences are how we know whether what we have been told to believe is true. So travel, go on your own fact finding mission.
Beware of confirmation bias. That is, beware of how your assumptions drive what it is you see as you travel the world. Pretend you are a blank slate. Pause your belief systems and investigate how other people believe.and what that means to how they go about life. This will help you get to know yourself better and improve life satisfaction.
Some people make declarations that their lives are satisfied. They say I’m satisfied! And that is the end of the discussion. This is insufficient. You need to know what it is and why you feel that way.
Travel offers many benefits to those who take travel seriously and immerse themselves into the life happening elsewhere. You learn about new foods, methods of preparing foods, experience new tastes, make new friends, learn about different ways understanding, different means of childrearing and elder care, and expose yourself to all sorts of unknowns.
Learning about those unknowns is important to your mental health. We are a curious. We want to learn new things because it keeps life interesting.
One final benefit of travel beyond mental health and benefits to our career is social health. Society has been deteriorating into conflict lately. This problem is in need to redress.
When people declare they are happy, free, and satisfied, it is not enough. It is equally important to know why we feel that way and whether our feelings match our lived reality.
The use of evidence is substantiate claims is extremely important to civic life, being able to do these things in our personal life helps bridge the personal and public life.
So go out and discover the world around you. Theres a lot to learn about that brings eternal joy and satisfaction.
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