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.
Souvenirs are a wonderful way to remember past vacations and also the fun you had finding that souvenir. Sometimes finding that perfect memento becomes part of your vacation adventure and sometimes you might just happen upon the perfect thing accidentally. I have noticed there tends to be a few different types of souvenir shoppers. Which one are you?
#1 - The collector. If you have a specific item you like to bring back from every vacation then you are a collector. Your shopping is a little easier because you know what you are looking already. Although I guess sometimes being a collector can get tricky if you just cannot seem to find the item you collect at your destination. Collections can be a good way to easily look back at all the many places you have traveled but does it become more about the collection than the memories of the places you went?
#2 - The tacky tourist. Sorry to say it but if you love those cheap souvenir shops where everything sold in that store is plastered with the name of the city or country everywhere then you are tacky. Sure the cheap junk makes it easy to bring back lots of stuff but does any of that really have meaning and will it make you remember anything from your vacation? Will the people you bring it back for even keep it for long? All that being said I will admit I still go on those stores too.
#3 - The it has to be authentic shopper. If you only want to bring back authentic, locally made, responsibly sourced items you are this type. You do your research before your trip to find out what your destination is most known for and you plan to track that down. While I do think these type of souvenirs have the most meaning they do also take a bit more work to find and they will cost you more. I do try to be this type of shopper but I am not set on only buying this type of stuff.
When in Camargue, France last year I loved that the Camargue Cross was very similar to my logo. While we were shopping that day we came across a shop selling porcelain art, including some in the shape of the Camargue Cross. The shop owner explained the meaning of the symbol - the anchor means hope, the heart means charity, and the cross means faith. She also explained that a local artist makes all the porcelain right in town and mentioned a little on the history of French porcelain. I hadn't sought out to buy something porcelain in France because it is authentic to the region but was glad I ended up with something very local. It is hanging in my office and it a great reminder of a really fun trip.
#4 - The I will know it when I see it shopper. If you tend to just happen upon something while traveling that you just think oh that is it, then you are this type. Your souvenirs might seem totally random to anyone else but to you they have meaning. I tend to be this type of shopper and sometimes it stinks when you just don't find anything that really speaks to you. I really want to find something I love and will remind me of the vacation even if it might not totally be something that has any connection to the area.
I have this keychain I bought on my first visit to Holland. We were shopping in a little local shop and they had one of those displays with keychains that have names. All the names were Dutch so it wasn't like I was looking for one but for some reason one just popped out at me. It seemed kind of silly to buy a keychain with a girl's name that wasn't mine or even in my language but it spoke to me so I bought it. After we came out of that store a group of school age girls came up to us asking if we spoke English. When we said yes they asked if we could help them with a school assignment to practice English. We of course were happy to take part. 5 years later I still have that keychain on my keys and it always reminds me of the group of girls we helped with their English.
No matter which type of shopper you are it is just nice to have some reminders of your past vacations around especially right now.
If you think you might be all of the above and just really love shopping of any kind let me know and I might be able to suggest some shopping tours for your next vacation.
I don't know about you but I cannot wait to be able to travel again. I will of course use commonsense and caution when we are given the green light to move about the world again. Travel is something that won't go away but it will change after all of this. Just like after 9/11 some changes were made in order to keep us safer and most are still with us today. As we slowly start to reopen in phases we will start to see some of these changes and ideas come out and some will work and some won't. Some of these changes may end of being permanent while others might be just around until there is a vaccine. No matter what the key is to start getting back to somewhat normal.
Here are 7 changes to the way we used to travel:
#1 Face Masks
JetBlue was first to announce that as of May 4 all passengers will be required to wear a face mask in order to fly. I have a feeling other airlines will follow and Canadian authorities have already mandated that anyone flying through Canadian airports must cover their nose and mouth. As much as I am not a fan of the face mask I would wear it if it means I can travel. Here is a link to each airline's current policy
#2 Social Distancing
This one could get tricky at places like theme parks but there are already talks of how the theme parks could start using virtual lines and then when you do have to actually enter the attraction line there will be places marked on the ground showing you where to stand so that you are staying far enough apart.
Another way to distance will be allowing less people into the parks or onto cruise ships. I have heard that when cruising starts again the ships will be sailing with a lot less guests in order to give everyone more room. I have also seen theme parks talking about limiting the number of guests per day.
Airlines are saying they plan to do things like leave the middle seats open and try to keep passengers as spread out as possible. I have even seen an idea for how airplanes might change seating configurations so that the middle seat faces the other direction and there are some sort of plexiglass partitions. I don't know if I see that happening anytime soon but maybe flying will somehow become a little more comfortable after all this.
#3 Relaxed Cancellation and Change Policies
This is one I would like to see stick around but doubt it will. At least for now the airlines, cruise lines, and most hotels are offering much better cancellation and change policies. This way you are able to book now and if things are not better or you are feeling sick you can cancel or change without losing all your money. Cruise lines have already said that if a guest is not feeling well even the day the cruise is to start they can cancel and won't lose everything. They would rather people didn't travel while sick just because they don't want to lose their money. I really like this change because it allows us all to plan something to look forward to but at the same time know we are not going to be severely penalized if it doesn't work out.
#4 Temperature Scans and Health Checks
Before the cruises stopped sailing many had started to take guest temperatures at boarding and would deny anyone with a fever. I have heard that most will continue this practice when cruising starts again. I have even heard plans for the ports to be set up with a scanning feature that you walk through as you enter to check in for the cruise. Both guests and crew will be checked before boarding. I have heard this could be something that goes beyond just cruising but also to the theme parks and maybe even the airports. We might also have to fill out a heath questionnaire similar to what we had to do before boarding a cruise but that could now apply to all forms of travel.
#5 More Cleaning and Sanitizing procedures
Everything from cruise ships, airplanes, theme parks, hotels, and really anything where people will come and go needs to step up sanitizing plans.
I think we will see a lot of high touch points changed into something like guests using an app or something on their own phone to do certain things like check in and even opening their room door. Princess Cruise was already ahead of the game on this with their Ocean Medallion, which I tested out in December. It really allows guests to avoid a lot of high touch things and even avoid standing in line for food. I am sure we will start seeing new technology for other things too.
Airlines and hotels are already using things like electrostatic sprayers or ultraviolet-light technology to clean. Hilton has started placing a seal on room doors that will tell when a room was clean and that it hasn't been opened since. Hyatt is planning to add a hygiene manager to each hotel to oversee cleaning and make sure everything needed is available to both employees and guests.
#6 More Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing Stations Everywhere
Let's face it a big key to this virus is we touch something that has the virus on it and then we touch our face so if both surfaces and our hands are cleaned often that is a big way to get rid of this. Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be much more readily available. I can see things like these popping up all over and can see many places requiring guests to wash before they can enter a line or something like that. Cruise Lines were already ahead on this one as they have had hand washing stations and wipes set up before any place you would eat or when you would return to the ship from port for a long time. I can already picture the sanitizing stations being added to Theme Park entrances just the way security bag checks were added. I can even see it added at airports in the same way TSA check was added. Who knows maybe someone is working on the new airport scanning machine that both looks for the bad things people might be hiding on themselves and at the same kills any germs that might be hiding too.
#6 Bye-Bye Buffets
I have never really been a fan of the way most buffets work where anyone and everyone is touching everything so I will be glad to see this change. In places that will still be sort of like a buffet I think we will see more servers taking over all parts for us so the only thing we do is hold our plate and food is placed on it.
#7 Immunity Passports
This is one I really do not agree with but some countries have started what is pretty much an immunity passport which says you already had the virus and recovered so they are assuming you are now immune so you are free to travel. I think there are too many variables in this one for it to make sense so I hope this one doesn't happen.
Some of these are already happening and others are my speculation. Some might stick around for good and others might not but either way I am glad to see us making steps to get the world back open!
For those that know me you would agree that I am pretty low maintenance. I don't use much make up, or other devices for my hair, so that saves a lot of space. I am not a shoe person so rarely travel with more than one pair. I also tend to put on my rose colored glasses when it comes to the weather forecast for where I am traveling and I just want to believe that it will be perfect weather and I won't need any rain gear or stuff like that. So why is it that I do not travel carry on only?
Are you up for the challenge of traveling carry on only? There are certainly some advantages but of course also some disadvantages as well.
First up the PROS:
#1 - Less waiting. You do not have to get in line to check your bag or have to wait for your bag to show up on the carousel.
#2 - No lost luggage. You know where your bag is so you are the only one that can lose it.
#3 - Save money on bag fees (although that might not be true on all airlines)
#4 - Easy access. Everything you are traveling with will be just above you so you can get it at anytime during your flight.
#5 - Less weight to lug around from one place to the next.
Now the CONS:
#1 - Limited space. You will have to narrow down what you take along with you.
#2 - Prohibited items. Some things cannot be carried on so you will have to really think about those liquids and other items that cannot be carried onto a plane.
#3 - Extra work. You might have to do laundry while on vacation since you cannot pack as many clothes.
#4 - No Overhead Left - Sometimes it seems like everyone is doing carry on only and that overhead bin space fills up for your get on and then you end up having to check in anyway.
#5 - Lifting - you have to be able to lift that bag up into the overhead and get it out.
Before taking the leap to carry only traveling it is smart to do some pre-planning. You will want to be sure you choose the right bag. Since you are going to squeeze everything you need into this bag be sure it is something that makes it a little easier. While some people might prefer a backpack for their carry on I definitely prefer the rolling bag. I have heard some amazing things about Away I think it will be my next purchase to try out. (if you use that link to buy one we both save $20).
Next up, you will want to double check your airlines rules. Maybe should do that before buying your bag just in case, but if you already have the bag just make sure it does qualify as a carry on for the airline you are flying. Also make sure to compare the fees, in case you are flying one of those airlines that charges for a carry on.
Get organized - some packing cubes like these will help squeeze in as much as possible, plus help keep you organized. Make sure you leave out the things that cannot be carried on. If you have some liquids you just have to bring that are either small enough or can be put into smaller containers like these then take them along. Just be sure to pack them somewhere easy to remove when you go through security. It might be easier to just buy certain liquids when you arrive.
Don't forget you also get a personal item that has to fit under your seat. Be sure to maximize this option as well when squeezing in everything you will need. I tend to choose a soft sided tote, like my Vera Bradley, which has plenty of little pockets inside. This is also where I keep my laptop so that it is easy to take out when going through security. One note of caution though is when picking your seat on the plane certain ones will not have under seat storage so think about that before choosing.
When might it be hard to try and go carry on only? If you are going somewhere that is cold it could be hard to pack all the cold weather stuff into just a carry on. If you are traveling through different climates during one trip you will need a variety of things that might be too much get get it all into a carry on. We once did a cruise that started in Florida and ended after a visit to Alaska so I think it might have been really hard to pack for that in a carry on. If you are traveling for a special event where you might need to bring along some more formal clothes and shoes that could make it hard to go carry on only.
If you have a trip that is pretty much going to have just one type of weather, especially something like a beach trip, packing in a carry on should work out pretty well. Who knows after you do it once you may never check a bag again!
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Dad's love gadgets and with Father's Day this Sunday I thought this would be a good time to list some of my favorite travel tech. I am a huge Amazon fan and thanks to prime shipping if you forgot to get dad something or you see something on this list you know dad would love there might still be enough time to get it before Father's Day. These gadgets are not just for dad though so you might find something that you just have to have for your next vacation too!
My don't leave home without it travel technology is my Skyroam. It does only work internationally but I also take on cruises and as long as we are close enough to land we will usually get wi-fi.
For the traveler that wants to be well prepared but not carry a bulky tool this gadget it pretty cool! Victorinox Swisscard Lite Pocket Tool - but it is important to remember that even though it is very compact it cannot be carried onto the plane with you. My husband has already either paid to ship his Swiss army knife home from the airport or at least once he just donated it to TSA. I can see that this one is even easier to forget that you have it in your wallet or carry on so be sure to double check before going through security.
What good is a gadget on the go if you run out of power? Having a back-up power source is always a good idea. There are lots of great options for portable power banks - Here is Amazon's Top 50 but who has more gadets than Tony Stark? Dads are super hero why not get him the power supply with super style!
Noise cancelling headphones are a must have on any flight! Besides helping deal with all the noise on a plane, they come in handy for watching an in flight movie or just listening to some music or audio book. I used to just use my ear buds until I learned how much more comfortable the bigger over the ear styles are.
There never seems to be enough outlets when you travel, especially on cruises, so bringing a charging station helps make sure all our gadgets are ready to go all vacation long. My husband always makes sure our charging station is packed in the carry on because he likes to be prepared for anything.
If you are traveling with all these gadgets you need a way to keep all these cords and small things organized. I like this travel organizer since it rolls up nice and compact. I also like the mesh pockets so you can see what is in there easily.
Getting a good night's sleep on vacation is important but sometimes can be hard with all the strange noises that come along with sleeping somewhere other than your own bedroom. My husband picked up this little sound machine a couple years ago and we take it everywhere we go. It also doubles as a nice Bluetooth speaker so we can listen to our favorite tunes while in our hotel room or out on our cruise ship balcony.
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