A Look at the Real Benefits of Travel

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?

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tags: , ,

Subscribe and get my free ebook!

Subscribe to the LandLopers newsletter and get a free copy of my new book, "My Favorite 50 Travel Photos."

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

20 Responses

  1. Maureen @ Vaco Vitae

    LOVE this post! Not that I didn’t already know the benefits of travel, but seeing them all in one place and hearing them again is a great incentive to plan the next getaway.

    For me, travel is all about shaking up my usual routine–be it in eating, exercise, socializing, thought patterns, or any other of my daily “ruts”. And a shake up of routines inevitably leads to growth in the long run. I simply act and think differently when I’m on vacation. And changing my thoughts and behavior usually leads to some sort of long-term improvement.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Awesome, so glad you liked it. And I’m like you, our trips are great opportunities to get out of those ruts and practice new, usually better, habits.

      Reply
  2. Gray

    I couldn’t agree more, Matt! I feel sorry for people who can’t travel for various reasons, but even sorrier for those who can, but won’t. They have no idea how many ways in which they’re shortchanging themselves.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      And there are so many more, I just listed a few.

      Reply
  3. Kayte

    Great post! I also find that travel, especially foreign travel to places where you don’t speak the language, improves problem solving and coping skills and increases tolerance for ambiguity. You learn that with the right attitude, being lost is just another adventure, not necessarily a cause for alarm :-).

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Absolutely, in fact I advise that everyone gets lost on purpose at least once. You usually discover the best stuff that way.

      Reply
  4. Global Basecamps' Ali

    Love this! It is so true. I went to high school overseas and as a result traveled a lot. It was a great learning experience and taught me so much about the world and myself.

    Global Basecamps’ latest blog: Photo Essay: Hawaii’s Garden Isle

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      What a great opportunity for you! You’re right, travel is invaluable in what we learn about ourselves, and how we grow and mature as well.

      Reply
  5. The Travel Chica

    I definitely agree with number 2. When I was working a stressful job, my vacation had to be out of town (out of the country preferably) to actually be able to disconnect and leave the stress behind. Being in a new location and surrounded by different sites and people provided so much stimulation and joy. Every trip I have ever taken has reminded me about what is really important.

    Reply
  6. Juno

    Mental health. Couldn’t agree more. And about the food to. My comfort food is actually nothing to do with my hometown. And I learn how to cook, how to recognize good ingredient and learn what’s good for me. Travel is amazing thing. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Typhoon Dodong

    Traveling places make all of us relaxed and well living. It is just the fact that it is programmed into our minds that the fresh air we breath as we travel set as free. I was then frustrated and losing hope in the past after a huge typhoon had crashed our home together with my brothers. But because of traveling places and socializing with different types of people, the worry and frustration have been eliminated. Now, i don’t want to commemorate such an annoying event.

    Reply
  8. Typhoon Dodong

    Hey Matt Long, You’ve got nice blog here. 🙂 Great article as well….

    Reply
  9. Michela @rockytravel

    Lovely post! Could not agree more! Traveling helps improving your overall health and qualilty of life, it helps you growing and see things clearly. It also has a therapeutic healing power and help you make important life changing decisions. It definitely is an asset everyone should have the right to gain.

    Reply
  10. Samantha Minogue

    Thanks for the great post Matt! I agree with your points 100%, my last trip took place in Barcelona with my husband. We chose this destination for our honeymoon and one thing I can say for certain, was that the health benefits were amazing! Contrary to what usually happens on most people’s honeymoons, we actually lost weight 🙂 Yay! We felt totally renewed and revived after all the stress of planning our wedding by travelling to an exciting new destination. We explored the city all day and night and walked WAY more than we do normally. I would totally recommend travel for everyone that is able to. It truly is a life changing experience!

    Reply
  11. Amanda @amandaelsewhere

    I’ve met so many great friends traveling! Expanding your horizons = great take away from travel.

    Reply
  12. jenjenk

    Traveling makes me appreciate all that I have and forces me to stop my whining/complaining [well, maybe not STOPS it but at least it shortens it a lot…]. It gives me a bigger, broader view of the world and helps me to remember not to sweat the small stuff.

    Reply
  13. Linda

    I wholeheartedly agree with all you write —- almost! I would say the food thing depend where you are!! On a recent trip to England I enjoyed Cornish pasties, steak in ale pie, wonderful cheeses, Cumberland sausage, gingerbread and other calorie-laden stuff! I was sensible a lot of the time, honestly! But lucky for me it was only a week, because would have returned twice the size if not!……only joking, of course. I indulged so much because I knew it was a short trip!

    As someone else said, I pity folk who won’t travel. I tend to think those who would like to but can’t will travel vicariously.

    Reply
  14. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

    I agree– travel is good for mental health!

    Reply
  15. San

    Nice post, Matt!

    For me, the key takeaways from traveling would be the people, the memories, the experiences, and those totally embarrassing moments that you inevitably have, and are thankful that nobody you know was around, to remind you for the rest of your life 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Comment