When you travel, you experience so many new things — cultures, landscapes, and interactions. As you can imagine, all of these situations and stimuli influence our brain. For many, there’s a nagging desire to travel and based on research, you may be doing yourself a world of good.
From independence to creative thinking, traveling has been shown to not only influence the way we think, but may also manipulate brain structure. If you have been debating whether or not you should travel or volunteer abroad, you may be surprised to learn all the neurological benefits.
The Health Benefits of Traveling
Although certain aspects of traveling can be taxing on your body and mind, travel has been shown to promote both positive mental and physical health. Before we get into the specifically, it’s important to note that research has shown some remarkable benefits of vacations and travel.
Within one report, it was found that women who take two vacations a year, experienced a significantly reduced risk of heart attacks or heart disease. When men were studied, it was found those who did not take an annual vacation, actually experienced a 20 percent increased risk of death.
It’s clear that taking time to travel and go on holiday, offers restorative effects on your health. In terms of your brain, are you expose your mind to new, complex environments, you can actually enhance your capacity. Meaning, as you experience traveling, you benefit from literal brain growth.
Instead of following your normal routine, travel exposes you to new situations. In turn, your brain reacts, becoming more attentive and engaged — you begin to process your experiences on a deeper level. So, it’s clear that vacationing boosts your health and potentially brain power, but how else does it affect your cognition and behavior?
3 Ways Traveling Influences Your Brain — For the Better
When you travel, you meet new people, gain new skills, and bank some incredible memories. That in itself, is reason to jump on a plane — but the benefits reach far beyond your interpreted experiences. These are just some of the ways in which you benefit.
- You Become More Creative
Creativity is not just being able to paint or draw, it’s much more complex than that. As you experience new things during your travels, you benefit from cognitive flexibility. New languages, smells, and even tastes can enhance your level of creative thinking.
The greatest effect appears to result when individuals live in another country, truly immersing themselves in the local culture. Of course, when you encounter new, exciting stimuli, you will become more easily inspired to create — especially if you’re already a creative individual.
- You Gain Confidence
When you travel, you become more aware and independent. Research has shown that traveling can actually alter your personality. Within one study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it was found that those who travel, are higher in extraversion, are more social, and are more open to new experiences.
For those who move abroad for a year, for instance, there will be many new challenges, such as managing finances and adapting to new cultural habits. All of these factors help you gain perspective, responsibility, and independence. Seeing the world through a ‘new set of eyes’ can help you grow and develop as a person.
- Your Sharpen the Mind
As mentioned above, new experiences, make your brain more active. As it tries to categorize new and unfamiliar stimuli, connections grow. In turn, your cognition is enhanced, ensuring that your brain stays active and alert. When you travel, you don’t even realize the amount your brain is working.
Whether you take a new metro system or try to order your dinner in the native language, you’re using parts of your brain that you normally wouldn’t. As a result, you’re able to sharpen your mind. Although you may not give this much thought when you’re younger, keeping your mind active is essential as you age.
Have you been dreaming about traveling for an extended period of time? If so, go for it — your brain and overall health will thank you for it.