Health Benefits of Travel

Koh Samui Spa
Koh Samui Spa

A quick review of travel advice from the major media outlets will show a frightening image of travel health risks, ash cloud delays and even terrorism. It’s no surprise that most people have significant reservations about leaving home for a trip to a new place. What doesn’t get nearly as much attention are the health benefits from traveling the world.

Galapagos Islands
Hiking in the Galapagos

1. Exercise – Almost without exception, I walk much more while traveling than when I am at home. Living in suburbia as I do, the LandLoper Swagger Wagon is my major source of transportation. The most walking I do on a daily basis is walking from the metro to whatever meeting I need to attend. However, when I’m on a trip I am suddenly transformed into a veritable walking machine. Visions of entering Olympic speed walking competitions suddenly enter my mind. Although we certainly use public transportation, our legs really are the primary mode of transportation. Extrapolate this over the course of a trip, and the amount of exercise we enjoy is considerable.

Moroccan Vegetable Garden
Moroccan Vegetable Garden

2. Culinary Exploits – Once again, a product of a busy work day and hectic private life, my diet almost always suffers. Breakfast is reduced to either nothing or a muffin and while lunch is usually ok, dinner is where we go off the rails. Take-away is often on the menu due to our crazy schedules, which is definitely not part of a healthy lifestyle. On the road though, we very rarely eat fast food, always enjoy a light and healthy breakfast and eat lots of well cooked foods with plenty of veg. While I readily admit to enjoying a Nutella crepe or a gelato cone, overall our travel diet is surprisingly admirable. (I chose to exclude consideration of copious amounts of churros in Madrid when writing this)

Park Near Palacio Real, Madrid
Park Near Palacio Real, Madrid

3. The Great Outdoors – While this is certainly dependent on location, the sheer act of being outside for most of the day is an inherently healthy activity. (Athens and Beijing do not make this list) In addition to the physical health benefits of being outside, the mental health benefits are equally important. There is something so genuinely calming and relaxing when admiring a beach, city park or mountain view that makes this travel habit a pleasant reprieve from normal life.

Moment of Pure Happiness in Bangkok
Moment of Pure Happiness in Bangkok

4. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – It may sound simplistic and perhaps overly saccharine, but if you chose your travel destination well, then your trip will be a relaxing and happy experience. Dozens of studies have proven both the physical and metal health benefits from eliminating stress and just being happy. This is also why it is tremendously important not to over plan your trip and to allow yourself to go slowly and truly enjoy your surroundings.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

10 Responses

  1. Aurora @ Extended World Travel

    So true! Pity these things are so often ignored by people, or maybe they are just unaware of it… I’m convinced that traveling is good for you, both physically and mentally! 😀

    Reply
  2. ayngelina

    I wish I could get more exercise but agreed that travel seems to make you stronger, and more importantly happier.

    Reply
  3. The Jetpacker

    One of the great things about traveling is that no matter how bad we eat — and we do eat really bad — we ALWAYS lose weight because we walk more than we do back home.

    Reply
  4. Eurotrip Tips

    I don’t agree on the bad eating thing. I try to grab a few things at the nearest grocery and avoid anything fast food (plus it’s so pricey).

    But really, travelling makes one so much more healthy. Not only because of the exercise and the happy feeling it gives, but also because our head is totally carefree – that’s what healthy is, too.

    And I noticed my skin never looked as good as it did when I was travelling. Plus I lost a lot of weight (or is it that I was too poor to actually eat three meals a day?).

    Reply
  5. Matt Long

    Oh I agree, we hardly ever eat fast food while traveling! There are so many better options.

    Reply
  6. Mikeachim

    Great list.

    Except…in my experience the only problem with good travel-related exercise is that it gives you an appetite while simultaneously knackering you out so much that all you want to do is slump onto a couch with a plate of zero-effort junk food.

    (And you’ve been exercising, so you feel it’s okay to eat junkily).

    Plus, there’s that “I’m on holiday, the rules don’t apply” feeling. That’s a killer when it comes to diet. 😉

    Reply
  7. Matt Long

    Ha! Well I never said that I dieted while on a trip. I only said that I didn’t do myself in with fried food. (once again, churros excluded) Overall, even on cruises, I really am much more healthy when traveling.

    Reply
  8. Gray

    Traveling certainly makes one emotionally happier, and all the walking that is done while traipsing from one site to another is excellent for the health. Trouble is, most of us ruin all that exercise by eating a lot more calories than we normally would. I have to make a serious and conscious effort to eat healthy while on the road. My main argument to myself is: The healthier I eat, the less chance I’ll get sick, and who wants to get sick on vacation?

    Reply
  9. Andi

    Couldn’t agree with your assessment any more! I wish you could email this post to everyone. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Justin

    Definitely a lot of benefits to traveling… i feel like I eat healthier when on vacation because of all of the “culinary exploits” available!

    Reply

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