When I was studying to become a holistic wellness coach, we learned that the key to health relies not just on food, but on having healthy relationships, a fulfilling career, enjoyable physical activity, and an active spiritual practice.
I can personally vouch for the fact that if one of these areas is neglected it’s going to take a toll on your overall health and happiness. Would you agree?
However, there’s one big element I feel is missing. Travel.
I’m not talking about most business travel or any travel that’s hectic and stressful and not purely for your own purposes. I’m talking about trips that expose you to new experiences and allow you to see your own life from a new perspective. The kind of travel that’s transformative.
I believe travel plays an integral role in how self-aware, open-minded, and growth-oriented we are. With that in mind, here are my top nine ways travel makes you healthier and happier.
Traveling is one of the rare activities that requires us to be in the moment. When you don’t speak the language, or you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings or you’re in awe of breathtaking vistas you’re really there. It all starts with mindfulness.
You’ve probably heard that taking a vacation is a fantastic way to reduce work stress and perform better at your job when you return. In the US, we do a terrible job at this and it shows by how many people push their way through burnout every day. Getting away from our normal routine is a chance to reset and come back to ourselves rejuvenated.
When you’re traveling it’s unlikely you’ll be sitting at a computer at a desk all day. By default, you’re going to be more active than normal without even thinking about it. You’ll be walking as you explore. Maybe swimming, hiking, or biking. Even shopping gets you up and moving more than most people do on a daily basis.
This is a big one for us in the states. While traveling outside of the US you’ll often find it much easier to access natural, organic and whole foods on the regular. Meals prepared from the corner market, less factory farmed meats (gross), and a food mentality that cherishes mealtime as a way to gather together and slow down for a while…yes, even during the week!
New Foods and Spices
Matcha, coconut oil, and fermented foods are just a few examples of now “trendy” foods that have long been a part of healthy eating around the world. We now know that spices like turmeric (prevalent in South and Southeast Asia) are powerful antioxidants and that superfoods like maca from Peru can help boost energy and balance hormones. Visit India or Peru and these foods aren’t wellness trends, they’re everyday life. Next time you travel, see what the local culture believes is healthy and give it a shot or take some spices home as minimalist souvenirs.
New languages. New cultures. New transportation. New smells. New foods. New friends. New vistas. Our brains LOVE that shit. Scientists say travel can also make you more creative.
Clinical depression is a serious illness. But when you’re going through a rough patch, feeling lost in life or suffering from a broken heart, traveling can lift that dark cloud. Being away makes you realize just how many people are in this world, how many opportunities there are, and how small your problems are in the grand scheme of things.
When you step out of your routine and into a new place, you see yourself and your habits in a whole new way. Volunteering in third world countries or visiting impoverished nations will open your eyes, but you don’t have to be the next Mother Theresa. Simply stepping out of the tourist mentality and experiencing life like a local is a surefire way to gain a new perspective on your life back home.
Whether it’s massive appreciation for the beauty of life itself or being thankful for those little luxuries you now realize you have back home, it’s hard to come away from a travel experience without more gratitude.
I’d love to know, in what ways have you found that travel makes you healthier and happier?