How travel can improve your mental health

When we think about the benefits of travel, we often look past the effect it has on our mental health. While travel can mean different things to each of us; you might be interested in learning about a new culture, seeing an extraordinary landscape or simply wanting to relax, no matter your motivation there is a collective benefit when we take a break from our day to day lives.

This October 10 is World Mental Health Day, where we can come together to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against a social stigma. While there’s no shortage of scientific research that suggests that travel is good for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. What’s difficult to know is, when and how travel can benefit us.

You might be suffering from social anxiety or maybe you’re struggling to cope with the stress of your job or studies. Looking after your mental health should always be a priority and sometimes taking a break in order to experience something extraordinary is exactly what you might need. As well as fulfilling a sense of wanderlust, travelling is undoubtedly a wonderful way to revitalise your mind, body and spirit.

5 Ways Travel Can Improve Your Mental Health:

Stress relief

We can often get so caught up in our day to day routine that we can easily miss or forget the things we find meaningful and enjoyable in life. Switching up your daily routine and location will help to stimulate your mind and boost your happiness. By promoting happiness, this helps to lower our cortisol levels (our stress hormone), making us feel calmer and more relaxed. According to a 2009 study from the University of Kansas, travelling can lower levels of depression and improve psychological functioning.

If you’re in need of relaxing, why not recharge whilst island hopping in the Philippines?

A white sandy beach in the Philippines

Boosts resilience

Travel is a great distraction from the safety of our everyday life because it’s not until we’re out of our comfort zone that we’re forced to face difficult situations in unfamiliar environments. Being able to do things that seem nerve-wracking or uncomfortable at first - let’s say you need to order a coffee in a different language or purchase a bus ticket – the act of overcoming the situation will leave you feeling with a sense of pride and achievement. This small accomplishment can increase our confidence which can be brought back into our everyday lives, now seemingly big things like an exam or job interview don’t seem like such a big deal as they once might have.

Up for a challenge? Why not go trekking in picturesque Transylvania?

Trekking in Transylvania

Helps with perspective

Observing new cultures is almost like seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and can completely broaden your view. You’re more likely to return home with a newfound appreciation for what you have and helps put your own life into perspective. When we travel, we have the opportunity to connect and observe others who may appear to lead a life totally opposite to us, this can challenge our own assumptions and free our mind to experience alternative ways of living, eating and treating one another. This new perspective can allow us to be more mindful of things we might have previously taken for granted.

Discover the pearl off the coast of India, for Sri Lanka is a cultural melting pot for travellers keen on opening their hearts and their minds.

A shrine in Ceylon, Sri Lanka

Increases creativity

When our brains are introduced to new experiences and environments, it becomes challenged, which builds resilience at the cellular level. This increase in stimulation has been shown to improve both concentration and creativity. Being exposed to new customs and traditions enhances our knowledge and inspires us. Whether you’re interested in the art of weaving, cooking, painting or architecture, learning about different cultures can help to motivate, stimulate and cultivate our creative juices.

We challenge you not to feel inspired after experiencing the eclectic colours of Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Allows you to connect more with people

We know travelling takes us out of our comfort zone and in this space, we may look to others for advice or guidance. This alone helps to create a sense of connectedness. This could be achieved by engaging with the locals, fellow travellers or even your travel companion. You’ll also have a whole lot of new memories, most of them held in photographs, that can keep us connected with the people we’ve met along the way. In a digital age, where we can share images with each other in less than a second, we can now stay connected more than ever before. This allows you the opportunity to connect on a deeper level than you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to do, thus improving your mental and physical health.

If you’re interested in connecting with both culture and nature, why not visit the stunning Omo Valley tribes in Southern Ethiopia?

Now that you’ve finished reading all the wonderful things travel does to our mental health, it’s time to start planning, where will you travel to next?


by  Lexi Connors

Lexi is your ultimate wanderlust enthusiast with an incurable case of curiosity and a deep passion for action on climate change. You can read more of her work Find her on Facebook or Instagram @avaycay.