Not all trips are created equally when it comes to mental health benefits. Surprisingly it’s not the distance traveled or time spent away that determines what travel does to your mental health, it’s the reason behind why you’re traveling!
Work Trips are Draining
Those traveling for work probably know this, but a work trip isn’t the same as a vacation. Advertisers tend to paint the picture of the hypermobile affluent business traveler as reclining in first class while enjoying world news, I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials, however the reality is much darker.
Many frequent travelers experience jet lag, stress and loneliness from their trips. More serious concerns include deep vein thrombosis and radiation exposure. While these concerns still exist for leisure travel, the risks are substantially lower since your travel isn’t routine.
Vacations are Valuable for Your Sanity
When you take a trip for fun your brain treats it completely different. Instead of getting stressed and lonely, you’re more likely to come back relaxed, happy, and with a stronger relationship with your traveling companions. According to a study done by Cornell, you’ll actually be happier anticipating your trip than you would be buying a material possession of equal value. (Hmmm, the gold Apple Watch Edition for $10,000 or an exhilarating walk from Cumbria to Yorkshire spanning 85 miles of quintessentially English landscape? Ok, I’ll go with the trip…)
Of course, people have known for years that traveling for self-exploration and self-satisfaction is good for the mind. Mark Twain famously said that this type of travel was “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” It seems science has caught up to our perceptions. A study from Columbia Business School has shown that experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells via travel will increase a person’s creative thinking. And who doesn’t want that? Perhaps you’ll have a business epiphany that will pay for more than the trip.
So if you or a loved one is traveling for work, don’t assume the experience is the same as your last vacation. Make time for you and plan a trip for your enjoyment!