Travel also can promote brain health and keep the mind sharp. When your brain is introduced to new experiences and environments (which happens during travel, essentially) it becomes challenged and builds resilience at the cellular level so degenerative disease is potentially delayed. This increase in cognitive stimulation due to exposure to novelty has been shown to improve both memory and concentration, particularly in individuals with dementia. Similarly, when you travel, you interact with novel stimuli in the form of new people, cultures, situations, and experiences, which can contribute to the delayed onset of degenerative disease.
Turns out writers have good reason to travel to a different country in search of inspiration and motivation for their next novel. The brain’s neural pathways are influenced by environment and experience (the brain’s adaptability is also known as neuroplasticity), which leads researchers to believe that travel can spark synapses in the brain and enhance creativity.
Moreover, leisure activities, such as travelling, can lower levels of depression and improve psychological functioning, according to a 2009 University of Kansas study. You can experience a boost in happiness even while planning a trip (up to eight weeks before setting off to your destination). Having something to look forward to, even if it’s a two-day trip, can feel rewarding. Vacationers also likely experience less stress and more satisfaction with their overall mood and outlook after returning from a trip compared to non-travelers.
Travel broadens your perspectives, not only of the world but also of yourself. When traveling you may often find yourself in situations that you wouldn’t be in otherwise. You are faced with the reality of living outside your comfort zone, which, as uncomfortable as it is, gives you the opportunity to transform how you see things. Psychologists point out that people often have epiphanies while traveling, as they are able to view their problems from a more detached view.
Travel offers opportunities to meet new people that you otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to connect with. When you are outside of your comfort zone in a different country, you may have to look to others for guidance, which can create a sense of connectedness. Whether you obtain this connection by engaging with the locals, other travelers, or even those you are travelling with, making social connections, or deepening the ones you already have, can improve your mental and physical health.