Most people haven’t traveled much since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airline restrictions, confinement requirements, not to mention the risks of contracting the disease have all contributed to anxiety and fears related to travel. However, increasing vaccination rates and reopening of tourist sites are beginning to offer people the opportunity to dream of far away places again.
For those for whom travel was an important part of life before the pandemic, there is every reason to believe that it can be so again, especially since travel offers so many possibilities for supporting wellbeing. Here are three ways that travel can boost happiness.
1. Travel Sparks Curiosity and Builds Meaning
Studies in the field of Positive Psychology suggest travel engages curiosity, a fundamental character strength linked to wellness. Also, the experiences related to traveling, memories of the journey, successfully navigating the unexpected, and building new connections with people, places and traditions can build meaning, one of the fundamental values of life.
2. Vacationing, Like Mindfulness, Reduces Stress and Boosts Moods
Research has shown that both meditation and vacationing are related to stress reduction and positive changes in moods. Vacationing has been linked with wellbeing, and while 15-minutes of meditation has similar positive effects to taking a day of vacation, the increase in positive emotions and reduction in negative emotions was more pronounced during vacationing, according to a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
3. Savoring During Planning and Remembering
Savoring is a significant contributor to happiness, and luckily, it’s something that we can do intentionally. Savoring refers to consciously focusing on positive experiences to let them sink in and really feel them, thus extending the benefits of positive emotions. It’s really easy to savor when planning vacations, thinking about the places we would like to see, the activities we would like to do, and how we will feel during those experiences. Also, reminiscing about good travel memories is a form of savoring that can extend the positivity of travel long after the return. Savoring the good can also help offset the anxiety that some people feel when planning trips.
These are just a few of the many ways that travel can benefit our happiness and wellbeing, but because it has been off limits during the pandemic, it can take time for people to feel comfortable traveling again. It can be helpful to remember that, naturally, there are some hurdles to jumping back into traveling. But an awareness of the benefits of travel and vacationing can help to offset some of the difficulties of getting back into this rich and rewarding area of life.
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