I think not be able to travel is starting to take a toll on my brain - I am actually looking at moving as a fun distraction right now! I know I must be going crazy if I think moving sounds like fun. That got me thinking about the health benefits to travel and travel does wonders for your mental health. I think I am in need of some travel ASAP!
For the past few months we have been staying home for the overall health of everyone but let's not forget all the actual health benefits of travel. There have been many studies that prove that travel benefits not only our physical health but our mental health as well.
Here are 4 proven ways that travel is good for our health
#1 Planning Travel Makes You Happy
When we look forward to doing something fun, it triggers a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. This helps explain why simply having a vacation on the horizon tends to make us happier. A study in 2014 from Cornell University discovered that people get more happiness from anticipating a travel experience than from anticipating possession of something they’re going to buy or acquire. Now is a great time to start planning your next trip because I am sure we could all use some happiness right about now! Personally I am planning about 4 of my own trips - sure they were all ones that had to be rescheduled but just being able to keep planning for them helps.
#2 Travel Is Good For Your Heart
Tourists can walk as much as ten miles a day sightseeing! I know from experience we had a day in Rome where we walked over 30,000 steps in a day (there are about 2,000 steps per mile so that means we walked about 15 miles). Travelers are also more likely to try new activities while on their trips, such as hiking, paddleboarding and snorkeling. These activities boost physical and mental health.
According to the World Heart Federation, moderate exercise lowers your risk of heart attack by 30% to 50%. So, yes, science agrees that you are doing yourself a big favor when you embrace travelling.
Another study found that women who vacation at least twice a year show a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who only travel every six years or so. The same is true for men. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and 30 percent greater risk of heart disease.
#3 - Travel Relieves Stress
Travelling isn’t always about seeing new places. Sometimes it’s about escaping old ones. According to a 2013 Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association, vacations can help manage stress and negative emotions by removing us from environments and activities that are the sources of our stress.
Getting away from the stresses of everyday life is important to protect your overall health. Stress is a silent killer. It raises your blood pressure, and your whole mental health will be affected. The stress hormones cloud the judgment and affect the release of happy hormones. When you travel, you are boosting the release of happy hormones to take over the stress hormones.
#4 Travel Helps Your Brain
Travel has been shown to help improve the brain health. There’s the ability to challenge yourself daily, making you think of alternate options and learn new things. You constantly expand your horizons, meaning that your brain is constantly on the go. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, training your brain regularly helps to improve its longevity.
In Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life, Dr. Michael Merzenich — known as "the father of brain plasticity" — explains the importance of getting outside our comfort zone and embracing the unfamiliar. People who travel to new places, keep learning languages and continue to experience new things into old age, are far less likely to develop cognitive decay, according to Merzenich's weighty body of research. Want to maximize your brain's neuroplasticity? A change of scenery wakes up your brain and takes it off autopilot. You have to think about small things when you're in an unfamiliar place, which is entirely the point. Learn a few words of a different language, take a walking tour, or even something as simple as trying a new food can get those neurons firing.
All of these studies and more just prove that travel is important for our mind, body, and soul.
I cannot wait to cruise again! Believe it or not social distancing is so easy on a cruise! For me vacation is all about relaxation so I am always seeking out the quiet places to relax and just get away from people. You could say I was researching social distancing even before it was required. I know some people might think that there is no way you could find quiet uncrowded places on a cruise ship but I have always found lots of quiet options on my cruises. Yes even on mega cruise ships with over 5,000 people onboard I was able to find quiet places away from lots of other people.
So if you are like me and ready to jump onboard as soon as the ships start sailing again -
Here are 4 Easy Ways to Social Distance on a Cruise
#1 - Your Room - I don't always think it makes sense to splurge on a balcony room but right about now it seems like a great way to get your own outside deck space. If you really want to splurge go for a suite to give yourself even more space to enjoy without other guests. Some cruise lines also offer special areas onboard just for suite guests so you get even more places to be able to social distance.
Sure you could go to a hotel or all inclusive resort and get a nice room but your view will never change while you are staying in that room whereas on a cruise you could see something new out your window all the time.
#2 - Room Service - Want to avoid the dining room? Most cruise lines offer free room service so eating in the comfort of your room is easy. Again this is where having the balcony comes in handy so you can even enjoy eating outside from your own room.
#3 - The Spa - I cannot think of a better place to social distance and relax! Either with a spa treatment or if the ship offers a relaxation room you can buy a pass to it is always quiet and not crowded.
#4 - Extra Charge Private Areas - Many ships now have some exclusive areas just for guests that choose to pay a little more to access these areas. These might be a private cabana or a private area on deck. I tried out the Sanctuary on Princess Cruise and it was totally worth the cost!
Cruise ships have been adding new technology that will help too, like being able to order a drink or food from anywhere you are instead of having to go up to the bar or get in line for food.
I also find if you explore the ship you can find lots of other corners of quiet either on an upper deck away from the pool, or maybe the library. One of my favorites is if the ship has a middle deck that that is open to the outside where you can sometimes walk around the whole ship outside. Do you have a favorite spot you have found while cruising?
Yes there are some areas or times on a cruise where social distance might be a challenge and I will talk about those next week.
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