Why Travel Is The Ultimate Wellness Ritual

Photo by Marko Milovanović

Wonder why everyone loves a break from the ordinary and a glimpse of a new world? There are deep benefits to travel behind that itch you have to get up and go. According to the 20-year-long Framingham Heart Study, women who vacationed less than once every six years were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease than women who traveled twice a year or more. A Cornell University study found that just planning a trip was enough to spike happiness. It's not just a bout of escapism that makes travel magical. Here are the top reasons travel is a powerful tool for wellness.

Travel gives you time for self-care.

Yes, you can take an herbal bath at home, but with laundry to be folded and mail to be opened, self-care can fall off the priority list. That's why the right hotel room can fast-track you to relaxation. One survey found that 89 percent of travelers were able to offload their stress after just one or two days in a home away from home. More than ever, hotels are catering to wellness seekers and putting all their must-haves within reach. Westin provides bedside essential oils and stocks their bathrooms with PABA-free, paraben-free, and dye-free products to create a spalike sanctuary, totally distraction-free. To balance out downtime with uptime, their "run concierges" will chart courses for visiting runners or book classes at local boutiques. A hotel that supports your wellness practice will set you up for a truly restorative getaway.

Travel breaks you out of your routines.

There's no better way to shake up your habits than to remove yourself from your environment. Those grooves we've worn deep from repetitive motion become harder to steer out of the longer we stay on the path. Stepping out of your home, your habits, and your obligations breaks you free from the sense of constriction responsibility brings and lets you reconsider the life you've built. You're a different person in different places. Expand your sense of who you can be.

Photo: Isaiah & Taylor Photography

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Travel gives you space to reflect.

Modern life is full of pings and rings—it's easy to let distractions occupy your thoughts and crowd out room for reflection. But a new locale, and a calming environment, invites you to step back and see yourself from a distance. Ever had an epiphany from a window seat on a train? Psychologists say that travel fosters the detachment necessary for viewing yourself objectively. With a clearer view of yourself, you can make choices based on curiosity instead of commitment.

Travel builds neuroplasticity.

When you go somewhere new, you're not just subject to changing your view—you're also likely changing your brain. Novelty has been proven to build resilience at the cellular level of the brain, which improves neuroplasticity, i.e., memory, concentration, and the ability to learn. It's not just fun but deeply stimulating in a way that allows you to see life with not just fresh eyes but a fresh brain, too.

Meeting different people helps you consider your viewpoints and see life from different perspectives. What do you have in common with someone halfway around the world? How do you do things differently? You might just change an assumption or a habit, and change is growth.

Travel encourages creativity.

A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that immersions into cultures other than their own boosted travelers creativity. If you're looking to unlock your potential, then book yourself a room at a Westin; grab pencil, paper, or whatever else gets you into a state of flow; and let the process unfold.

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