Taking a vacation is a big commitment for most people. The expense as well as the time required are both major investments that consumers don’t take lightly. Unlike most other investments though, the return on travel can be hard to quantify, but is nonetheless considerable.
Health – Travel is an investment in improving your overall health. Most people lose sight of the fact that travel can be, and usually is, a very healthy activity. 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.
Physical exercise isn’t the only health benefit of travel, although it may be counter intuitive, many of us practice better food habits when traveling. 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.
Mental Health – Travel is an investment in improving mental well-being. 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.
Not only are you happier, but travel also makes you smarter. Even the most sheltered troglodyte can’t help but learn something from a travel experience. It may be something formal, like a museum or tour, but more often than not it is the subtle nuances of a destination that help us grow intellectually. Whether it is our conversations with residents, watching a parade or just reading the local newspaper, it is virtually impossible not to learn something wherever you choose to travel.
Family – Travel is an investment in improving the lives of your children and family. Granted, this may not be my forte, but I have seen the tremendous positive benefits of travel many times in the lives of my friends and relatives. Family travel is transformative for a few reasons, but perhaps the most important is how it affects children. Children are little sponges, and whether you realize it or not, they absorb everything around them. (This has had particularly amusing results with friends of mine who use frequent curse words) First, you’re exposing your children to new places, people and experiences. This helps them grow into smarter, more well-rounded people as they mature. Family travel is also an indispensable tool in teaching your children about the good and bad things that happen all around the world. I have also seen leisure time create closer family bonds, be it on a multi-generational trip to Disney World or a tour around China, the trip creates memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.
It Helps Everyone Else – When we travel, the money we spend doesn’t simply disappear into the morass of a corporate bank account. Your travel is an investment in a community and the people who live there. Travel and tourism is the largest industry in the world, and the positive effects of this can be felt throughout the community, from the hotel maid to restaurant owners and their employees. That’s another reason why it’s so important to visit areas that are either recovering from disasters or simply aren’t visited very often. The traveler enjoys many perks from travel, but so does the destination in this wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship.
What are some of the returns you’ve enjoyed from your own travel investments?