mental health traveling

The Positive Effects of Traveling on Mental Health

Jun, 10, 2020
(Last Updated On: June 10, 2020)

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘travel’? Exotic food? White sand beaches? Pure rest and relaxation? Hiking up lush green mountain to epic viewpoints? Whatever our mind conjures up, it most likely won’t be negative. Travel or the idea of travel fills our thoughts with the excitement of faraway lands, a buzz for adventure and a longing for discovery. If you love to travel, the positive effects of traveling will be clear to you and your mind will make positive associations with the experience. Right now might be the best possible time to think about, research and plan out that ultimate bucket list vacation. With the pandemic being far from over, with most international travel grounded and with many of us having some extra time on our hands, now really is the perfect time to think about and re-assess what we want from travel.

Recent studies also suggest that purchases, when spent on experiences rather than on materialistic goods make us far happier. The same goes for planned purchases. Studies confirm that people are far happier waiting on and planning a trip than waiting on an online purchase, for example. Planning on and waiting for a trip to happen can give us something to look forward to and actually elevate the levels of happiness in our brains.

The process of travelling can be divided into trip planning and execution. Both have slightly different, yet positive effects on mental health. For many of us right now, planning a trip might be the only option but we can still reap the benefits of the planning process and most likely wait until next year to actually take the trip. 



It Keeps The Dream Alive

“The virus can stop our travel plans but it can’t stop our travel dreams¨, Rick Steves commented in a recent interview with the New York Times. With the current pandemic in full swing, I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say there are many places that we all long to travel to right now. With international travel not being possible for the most part, travel planning helps us to keep those dream trips alive inside our heads. With that come all the emotions of travel planning, joy, excitement, anticipation and a sense of wanderlust that make us feel happier and put us into a state of bliss, even if it’s just for a few moments.  

Gives You Something to Look Forward To

In a recent interview with Nat Geo, Killingsworth said: “Our future-mindedness can be a source of joy if we know good things are coming, and travel is an especially good thing to have to look forward to.” That sense that something great is coming can be a surprising source of joy, especially if we are constantly surrounded by stress, worry and anxiety. 

If you’re planning a trip then check out my favourite Bucket List journal to get you started.

Can Help You To Escape

Imagination is a powerful tool and planning a trip can really help you escape your current world or situation. Have you ever spent time on Google Maps, tracing roads, beaches or island paths for an hour without realising? Planning a trip can help our minds escape and by using our imaginations to virtually put us in certain destinations we can escape our living rooms and current situations altogether. 

Restore Travel Confidence

Travel can be scary, stressful and things can go wrong, which is not something you want if you already suffer from anxiety or depression. By planning a trip you can highly reduce the stress a trip can induce simply by being prepared. Planning a trip to a bucket list destination will help you to see how transportation works, if taxis are safe and what currency you need before arriving. Knowledge of all these factors and being prepared can seriously reduce levels of stress at your destination and boost overall travel confidence. 

Stuck at home and can’t travel? Check out these 10 Ways to Satiate Your Thirst for Travel Without Leaving Home


Reduces Stress

Travelling around, experiencing new things, learning about new cultures and meeting new people are all aspects of travel that take our minds off stressful work/home situations. If you’ve got a stressful life or job, then travelling and getting away from it all can be the perfect way to take your mind off what brings you stress and in turn focus on what brings you joy. It’s a known fact that travelling to a beach, relaxing for a week or backpacking around Europe helps us to leave our troubles at home, unwind and de-stress completely. I mean, why else do people take vacations?

Opens Your Mind to New Experiences

When travelling, you never quite know what’s around the corner and great experiences come when you least expect them. As travellers we are used to this; our minds are always open to meeting new people, discovering new things and creating new experiences, which has an extremely healthy and positive effect on mental health. Our minds simply feel more open and freer.

Makes You Mentally Strong

Travel often means adventure but not all adventure goes smoothly. At times you’ll have to face setbacks and changes that force you to think on your feet and practise patience, empathy and your problem-solving skills. All these situations, over time, make you mentally strong and they help to shape your mind, making you more resilient and ultimately more experienced for the next time you take a trip. These minor stressful travel experiences can actually help you to deal with larger problems and anxiety in the long-run and even help you to find solutions more effectively throughout all areas of your life. 

Travel Humbles and Teaches Understanding

When you travel to faraway lands, especially to destinations where the culture is so different from your own, you begin to see how other people live. You begin to realize and to learn how many people still find happiness and joy living below the poverty line and these encounters with local people can really teach us to be more understanding and respectful towards others. Humbling experiences like those only encountered when travelling essentially teach us about our own situation and what we need to do to make our reality better, both within and outside of the body.

Boosts Happiness

Travelling takes us away from everyday, mundane existence and launches us into a life of adventure where each day is different. We see beautiful things we wouldn’t normally see and most importantly, we are in the relaxed frame of mind to notice them. Sunsets, beautiful mountain views, crystal-clear blue water, the feeling of sunshine on our faces are joyous moments that can boost happiness levels in our minds.

Promotes Creativity

When was the last time you felt creative in your everyday life? It certainly is easier to find creativity when surrounding yourself with a brand new, unique culture, delicious, exotic foods, local smells and varying landscapes. It’s something our eyes and minds aren’t used to seeing and this unfamiliarity can easily spark that creativity within our minds. How to choose to express that creativity and what you choose to do with it is essentially up to you. When it comes to my photography I can honestly say that I feel most creative and most inspired when I’m travelling.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about the positive effects of traveling on mental health? Leave them below!

Related posts you might like:

Wellness Holidays | How to Incorporate More Wellness Into Your Travels

10 Ways to Satiate Your Thirst for Travel Without Leaving Home

How to Really Get the Mental Rest You Need When on Vacation



  1. Reply

    Mrs d -

    June 11, 2020

    This is such a great post! Travelling has such a positive impact on my own mental health! Thank you for sharing

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