In today’s on-the-go world, it’s hard to take a break. And I don’t mean a 15 minute break to get a quick cup of coffee. I’m talking about a break from your daily tasks, office responsibilities and everyday pressures. I’m talking about a vacation, a destination getaway to a tropical island or a cross-country road trip through America’s heartland.

A recent study shows that more and more Americans are forgoing their vacation days, opting to work months on end to meet tight deadlines and prove company loyalty. And while managers probably appreciate your dedication to the job, your mind, body and soul are anxiously waiting for a much-needed break.

Why does your mind, body and soul desperately need a jet-setting experience? Because traveling can improve your overall health and boost your creativity.

That’s right–traveling can positively affect your ability to be innovative while helping you de-stress, which improves your brain health, heart health and physical health.

Traveling Boosts Creativity

For most, creativity comes through new and exciting experiences. But when the most exciting thing about your day is the commute to and from work, or the office gossip at the water cooler, you’re limiting your mind’s ability to expand and be inspired.

Professor and author Adam Galinksy says that “foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” This essentially means that new sounds, sights and smells all spark the creativity synapses in the brain.

How can you get those brain synapses to fire? By traveling.

Many creatives, like writers Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain, used their international traveling experiences to sculpt their work. Hemingway’s novels are heavily inspired by his time spent in France and Spain, and Twain’s sail through the Mediterranean is documented in his travelogue Innocents Abroad. Their exposure to new and different cultures enabled them to write some of their best work.

Vacationing in another country, or even another state, helps you open your mind. You can try exotic foods, visit notable landmarks, make friends with locals, or even hike through the mountains. Simply immersing yourself in a different environment for several days can inspire your creative abilities to new heights. And not only will you be more creative, you’ll be healthier and happier.

Traveling Improves Your Health

Traveling boosts brain power

Your mental health also experiences the perks of traveling. A poll conducted by the U.S. Travel Association discovered that travel, especially for retirees, prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study also found that 86% of those who travel are more satisfied with their outlook on life, compared to the 75% who do not travel.

Traveling strengthens your heart

Not only does traveling enrich your brain power, but it also strengthens your heart health. The Framingham Heart Study found that those who didn’t take a vacation for several years were more likely to suffer from heart attacks than those who traveled annually.

Why is this?

Because those who get away from their work and homes are typically less stressed and less anxious–decreasing the strain on their hearts. In fact, travelers also reported that their stress-free and light-hearted feelings lasted for weeks after they returned home from their vacation.

Traveling keeps you physically fit

Being on vacation makes you more active. You are out exploring, strolling through markets, hiking trails, or even lounging the beach. You are breathing in the fresh air and enjoying striking views. And even if you end up sitting on a tour bus for a few mornings, you are still doing more than if you were stuck at the office or watching TV at home.

Overall, traveling makes you happy :)

It isn’t just the actual vacation that is good for you; it’s the complete planning, getaway, and return home experience that improves your health.

2014 Cornell research study found that people experience more happiness just knowing they are going on a vacation versus knowing they are going to be purchasing something. Another study done in 2002 by professors at the University of Surrey found that people are happiest when they know they have a trip coming up. So just the act of planning a vacation can significantly improve your overall well-being.

It isn’t hard to imagine either. Think about how excited you get when you are planning your vacation. How fun it is to plan your itinerary, to pack your new outfits, and to tell your friends and family about where you are going. All of these things positively impact your well-being.

So let the vacation planning begin–book your ticket to the next destination on your bucket list, pack your bags and passport, and let your mind absorb the creativity and stress-free aura from your travels.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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