Depending on what you do for a living, taking time off may be frowned upon. If that’s the case, try explaining to your boss that, as countless studies have shown, vacation days benefit employees’ emotional and physical health. And if you manage to earn some time away from the office, traveling might just be the best way to spend it. Getting away from your everyday responsibilities and breaking from those daily routines will show you how important a work-life balance really is. Here are some of the most advantageous rewards of putting work on pause and going on an adventure.
It’s Something to Look Forward to
Even a whitewater rafting guide will probably find themselves bored or frustrated from time to time. A practical way to get through those inevitable lulls is by setting periodic goals, such as signing a client or getting a promotion. And who says traveling can’t be one of those goals? After all, everyone needs some light at the end of the tunnel to chase after, and without it, things at the office, restaurant, or job site have the potential to grow stale. Once you’ve earned your way to the end of that metaphorical tunnel, that trip to the beaches of Bali or ancient valleys of Peru will feel even sweeter.
Plus, the anticipation of a trip can be half the fun. Leading up to a getaway, your spare time is usually spent planning, budgeting, and daydreaming about wherever it is you’re headed. During this stage, your brain is in constant motion, deepening your well of knowledge and sparking unforseen curiosities. With this type of thinking in mind, you’ll start reaping the benefits of travel before you even leave the office.
You’re Bound to Learn Something
For most of us, travel is an ideal way to learn about the world around us. Although you likely absorb a lot of information at your day job, it’s always important to balance that out with experiences outside of work. New adventures are sure to leave a lasting imprint, allowing you to come back to work with a wider and more intimate perspective. Perhaps you traveled to a country where you didn’t know the language, or visited a village without running water. Though both locales present their own types of challenges, navigating your way through them is an opportunity to learn not only about different cultures, but also about yourself.
On the other hand, to extract the educational benefits of travel, you don’t have to go far. Whether you’re checking out a national park in your home state, or hopping on a quick flight to a neighboring city, there are opportunities to learn everywhere you look. Museums and monuments are the obvious candidates, but taking in a local sporting event, visiting a farmers market, or stopping in at a small town that lies just off the beaten path will do the trick, too. Traveling is a pandora’s box of possibilities, each turn revealing something new and unlearned, which ensures you’ll have a story for the staffroom on Monday.
More Than Just Your Mind Will Benefit
In addition to filling your mind with a wealth of worldly knowledge, traveling can help your physical health in a number of ways. One striking improvement you’ll notice is a boost in your immune system. Exposing your body to foreign bacteria and illnesses is a surprisingly efficient way to build immunity against them. In saying that, you should still practice basic hygiene while traveling, but know that you’re getting stronger as you go.
After returning from your hiatus, your widened perspective will help you feel stress-free and rejuvenated. This aspect of traveling might just be the most crucial, as research has also found that taking advantage of your travel time to decompress can actually limit you health risks. For example, women who vacation twice a year are 20 percent less likely to have a heart attack than women who don’t. And men who forgo annual vacations have a 30 percent higher chance of heart disease. Maintaining your physical health is integral to longevity, and traveling can help with that.
Your Relationships Will Improve
Traveling brings people together like no other venture in life. If you happen to have an adventure buddy or are able to travel with a whole crew of friends, the travel styles of each individual will have an affect on the group’s dynamic, and in most cases, you’ll end up sharing close quarters with people, which isn’t always easy. But the good news is that because most endeavors exist outside of people’s comfort zones, bonds that form on the road are special, sometimes even seeming otherworldly in the moment, so you’ll be thankful for that when you get home. Traveling with others will teach you how to compromise and listen, as well as how to show empathy and compassion. And even if these are just on-the-road-friends that all go their separate ways, you’ll return to daily life with a sturdier base for creating long-lasting, meaningful relationships.
Your Creativity Will Spike
I’m sure you’ve gone for a walk or drive to “clear your head” after a few fruitless attempts at solving a problem or finishing a project. Without regular breaks, stress has a way of creeping in, which takes its toll on your mental health. Traveling is just like taking that walk or drive — but on a much grander scale. Removing yourself from a certain cultural bubble and landing in a new one is a great way to see things in a different light. Doing so forces you to adapt and think critically in entirely new ways, pushing you to be more creative. And though you might be a bit bummed about returning home from your travels, know that you’ll be back at work feeling better than ever, and whatever problem is waiting for you on your desk doesn’t stand a chance.
After reading this, we hope you don’t let those vacation days go to waste. Even if it’s as simple as a day trip or weekend getaway, the benefits of traveling are too good to ignore. And if we missed a key takeaway that seems to work for you, let us know in the comments below!
Header image by @mikesoul.