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What Does Traveling Mean For Your Mental Health?

You’re staring daggers at the clock in the break room as if it’s personally affronted you. It hasn’t, of course—and no, it’s not time to leave work yet. You’re just exhausted, sleep-deprived, slightly antsy, and bored. Your mental mood could use a pick-me-up. 

The good news?

There happens to be a cure for your mindset’s misalignments, and it just might involve you at the beach with a fruity umbrella drink in your hand. Or perhaps a mountainscape is more your style. Either way, we’re talking about traveling

If you’re interested in an all-natural treatment to improve your wellbeing, you can start by packing your ​​travel bags. Learn how travel can positively impact your mental health and explore some handy tips for prioritizing your mind and body with the most gratifying remedy: a vacation.

Can Traveling Change Your Mindset?

Tropical ‘tinis and mountain frolics might sound ideal—but what does traveling do to your mind, exactly? Well, it can actually have a dramatic impact on your overall mental health, leaving you feeling like a completely new person upon returning to the real world.

Whether you’re planning a cross-country trip to enjoy some rest and relaxation or are more intrigued by the idea of international travel, going somewhere you can have new experiences has the ability to change the way you look at life. It provides you the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and gain perspectives you’ve never had before. 

Here are some ‌ways traveling can change your mindset. 

Reinvent Yourself

Traveling somewhere new can give you the anonymity to be whoever you want to be—to do what you want to do, to change your perception of the person you are when you’re at home. Who knows, you might even take some of these changes back with you to the mainland.

If you find yourself regularly flailing your way through five tasks at once, a vacation could be your opportunity to slow things down:

  • Grab a gelato and explore the local shops. 
  • Turn off your phone and settle in with a good book for the afternoon. 
  • Want to have that extra daiquiri? Do it. No one’s stopping you.

When you step outside your everyday schedule, you make space to uncover new layers of yourself that you never knew existed—or that have been lying dormant for a while, begging you to reawaken them with a gentle, travel-inspired nudge. 

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Gain a New Perspective

When you’re somewhere new—particularly in a foreign country—you can take a moment to appreciate the contrasts from your daily life: a different culture, a new language, or a particularly flavorful cuisine. 

Adam Galinsky is a psychologist who’s completed in-depth studies on how traveling affects the human brain. He’s said that people who travel to other countries “grew in extraversion, grew in their agreeableness, and decreased their neuroticism,” therefore rewiring how they behaved in certain aspects of life.1

Galinksy also says that travel allows people to become more tolerant of new information and ways of thinking.2 So when you’re on vacation, try to make a conscientious effort to be in the present moment:

  • Observe and take part in the country’s customs. 
  • Start a conversation with a street vendor as you peruse their items.
  • Keep a daily journal documenting favorite moments, new words, or a few sketches of your surroundings. 

The more you fully immerse yourself, the more likely you’ll come back as a more well-rounded and open-minded individual.

4 Reasons Why Travel is Important for Your Mental Health

Picture this: You’ve traveled to that place that brings you complete peace and happiness. You’re enjoying the scenery and change of pace. Life there is exactly how you imagined it would be. 

But you’ve still got one nagging question–how does traveling affect your mental health? 

It actually has quite a few positive impacts on your mental state and wellbeing. Here are three reasons why travel and mental health work hand-in-hand.

#1 It Reduces Stress

Although not everyone enjoys getting to their destination—planes, trains, and automobiles can be tiresome, but a necessary evil—the bottom line is that, when it comes down to it, traveling can help relieve stress. 

By removing yourself from your daily routine and activities, you’re allowing your brain to take a step back from the factors that normally cause stress.3 If you’re able to lessen your stress levels—and therefore improve your overall mental health—on vacation, you have a higher chance of coping with the everyday hubbub that created the tension to begin with.

#2 It Increases Your Dopamine Levels

When you’ve done something that brings your life satisfaction, the chemical dopamine is released in the brain.4 It’s usually associated with the temporary euphoric feeling it provides. 

On vacation, you typically have several experiences leave you feeling satisfied, such as:

  • Having a positive interaction with a stranger
  • Finding your way back to your hotel with no mishaps
  • Learning a word or phrase in a new language
  • Getting your socks knocked off by a stunning panorama

Whatever part of the journey brings a smile to your face, your reward is a surge of bliss that just makes you feel good.

#3 It Improves Your Happiness

This may seem like a no-brainer. You go somewhere, enjoy yourself, make some memories, and come home feeling like a new, happy, and refreshed version of yourself, right? That’s exactly right. Enjoying yourself on vacation often leaves you feeling more vivacious and restored by the time you arrive back home.

What you might not guess, however, is that the planning of the trip can also bring you joy. From scrolling through travel blogs to finalizing your stays, the process of preparing for the trip can actually trigger cheerful feelings up to eight weeks before you even leave for your trip!5 

So, there you have it—more cheer-induced bang for your buck before the vacation even begins.

#4 It Increases Your Productivity Level

Work-life balance. Aside from exercise and mental health, you may hear those three sparkly little words thrown around at the office from time to time, and it can be challenging to truly balance those two aspects of your everyday life. 

If you’re able to toe the line and prioritize yourself when needed, you might notice an improvement in productivity in multiple aspects of your everyday life. Taking a vacation—for a day, a week, or as long as you need—often gives you a revitalized mental state so that you can crank out whatever needs to get done most efficiently.6

young female backpacker woman enjoying green beautiful forest around her

3 Tips for Prioritizing Mental Health Through Vacations

If you’re already imagining listening to your favorite podcasts on the beach, then you’re nearly halfway to prioritizing your mental health. Here are some tips to consider if you’re interested in using vacations to nurture a positive relationship with your mental health. 

#1 Plan Annual Trips

Most people receive a certain number of days off each year for a reason. Your employer wants you to take time for yourself to shake off the brain fog that’s been growing like a weed since your last vacation. Use that time to your advantage.

Try to take at least one full-week trip each year to really allow yourself to recharge your brain. This gives you ample time to arrive at your destination and unwind. If your happy place is an all-inclusive resort in Cabo? More power to you. If it’s backpacking through the streets of Europe and staying in a different hostel each night? You do you. 

Remember, whatever brings you joy is what’s going to positively influence your mental health the most, so choose what makes you happy.

#2 Don’t Shy Away From Weekend Getaways

Never underestimate the power of a 48-hour break from reality. If you’ve got time to take a monthly or quarterly weekend vacation to benefit your mental health, then by all means—go for it. Load up the RV and find a new place to enjoy the fresh air. Pack your weekender bags and hitch a flight to New York City for a fast-paced, memorable weekend.

48 hours is plenty of time to lose yourself in the vibrancy of new surroundings. It gives you enough time to increase your dopamine levels, shake off the excess stress, and still make it home in time to stream your favorite TV show by Sunday evening.

#3 Take a Mental Health Day

Every now and again, you might feel ‌ you'd benefit from a change of pace for the day—and that’s okay. Even a day off from work can be turned into a mini-vacay:

  • Visit a neighboring city. 
  • Drive that extra 30 minutes to soak up the coastline while you enjoy a meal from your favorite seaside restaurant.
  • Go for a bike ride to your favorite greenhouse and let your plant-parent obsession run wild

Regardless of where you live, you can find a new and interesting place not too far away. Immerse yourself in a new landscape and refreshing vibes to help realign your mindset and be more productive the following week.

Asian woman traveler contemplating outdoor view from window of train

Pack Your Bags in Style with BÉIS

After you’ve chosen the perfect getaway destination, it’s time to begin the countdown to the big day. Remember, planning the trip can provide a heaping dollop of happiness, so enjoy every step of the journey.

An important step in that process? Packing your bags. 

At BÉIS, we’ve got overnight bags and luggage options that satisfy every occasion. If you’re going away for a quick girls’ trip and need a weekender bag that’s both practical and stylish, we’ve got just the thing. Looking for some chic yet sturdy luggage that will safely get your prized possessions from here to somewhere with unlimited daiquiris? BÉIS has got you covered.


Sources:

  1. Krzymowski, Abbey. “What Traveling Actually Does To Your Brain.” ILP, www.blog.ilp.org/what-traveling-actually-does-to-your-brain
  2. Copestake, Ginny. “We Interviewed Psychologist Adam Galinsky to See How Travel Is Changing Our Brains.” Contiki, 29 June 2018, www.contiki.com/six-two/psychologist-adam-galinsky-travel-changing-brains
  3. “Four reasons to take a vacation.” APA Divisions. www.apadivisions.org/division-28/publications/newsletters/psychopharmacology/2017/07/vacation
  4. “Dopamine.” Healthdirect, www.healthdirect.gov.au/dopamine
  5. Parker-Pope, Tara. “How Vacations Affect Your Happiness.” Well, 2 July 2017, www.well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/how-vacations-affect-your-happiness
  6. Cherry, Heather. “The Benefits of Resting and How to Unplug in a Busy World.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 10 Dec. 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2021/01/15/the-benefits-of-resting-and-how-to-unplug-in-a-busy-world/?sh=5f200eff2133




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