When was the last time you traveled abroad? Traveling for work is one thing, but I'm talking about packing up, logging out of your email account, and disconnecting from your normal routine for a week or more.
Traveling around the world is not only fun and exciting; Numerous studies show that it is also very beneficial for your physical, mental and emotional health.
Check out these five proven benefits
Americans may say they love to travel, but most don't often venture abroad. According to a study published by Hostelworld Global Traveler Report, Americans are half as likely as Europeans to travel abroad to visit multiple countries.
British residents have visited 10 countries on average, Germans have visited 8 countries on average, and French people have visited 5 countries on average. But what about Americans? They tend to visit only three. In fact, 29% of American adults have never traveled abroad!
When U.S. citizens do cross the border, most go to Canada or Mexico. Affordability is obviously a big factor—some 71% of Americans say it's too expensive to leave the country—but that's not all.
Considering all the travel and deals websites have to offer these days, you can travel abroad without having to raid your piggy bank. Perhaps many Americans don’t realize the benefits of traveling abroad—and there are many!
1. Travel makes you healthier
Travel can actually make you healthier, according to a joint study by the Global Council on Aging and the Pan American Center for Retirement Research in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association. The study found that women who took vacations at least twice a year had a significantly lower risk of heart disease than those who only traveled once every six years or so.
The same is true for men. Men who do not take annual leave have a 20% increased risk of death and a 30% increased risk of heart disease.
2. Travel relieves stress
While missing a connecting flight or losing your luggage at a foreign airport can certainly exacerbate your anxiety, travel is scientifically proven to lower stress levels, and the results are significant.
3. Travel enhances your creativity
However, traveling alone is not enough. Galinsky found that international travelers must engage with purpose.
“The key process is multicultural engagement, immersion and adaptation,” he continued. "People who live abroad and don't immerse themselves in the local culture are likely to gain less creativity than people who travel abroad and really immerse themselves in the local environment."
4. Travel increases happiness and contentment
Most people tend to be happier when they travel and certainly don't have to worry about work. However, a more interesting conclusion from a Cornell University study is that people experience a direct increase in happiness simply by planning a trip.
Research has found that people's expectations for a vacation are much greater than their expectations for acquiring a physical property. Therefore, the benefits of traveling abroad are evident long before the trip begins.
5. Traveling can reduce the risk of depression
Although people tend to avoid the topic in our society, depression is unfortunately a major problem. Millions of Americans regularly struggle with depression, and it's not uncommon for doctors to over-prescribe depression medications.
Fortunately, there are healthier options to escape the hopeless blues. According to research, travel may be one of them.
A study from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who vacationed at least twice a year were less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress than women who took fewer than one vacation every two years.
So traveling the world has clear, scientifically-backed health benefits. Mentally, physically and emotionally you will gain a lot from packing your bags and visiting places you have never been before.