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  • email@bucketlistheroes.com

Travel Science

Most people would agree that taking a vacation is "fun". But there many scientific studies out there that have found it to have a profoundly positive impact on mental health as well. And for our veterans, defenders, responders and heroes who struggle with stress and anxiety, a life changing trip can be a significant factor in regaining balance and perspective. The following are just a few of the many resources available for more information:

STRESS & ANXIETY RELIEF

According to a 2009 University of Kansas study activities such as travelling can lower levels of depression and improve psychological functioning. 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. Department of Psychology, University of Kansas

The Wisconsin Rural Women's Health Study also says that those who go on a vacation at least 2 times a year are less prone to chronic stress and depression, as opposed to those who go on a vacation less than once every 2 years. Wisconsin Medical Journal

Generally speaking, traveling to the kind of places you have a personal preference for can be a source of motivation. Specific types of locations, such as calm forests or mountain environments, have been shown to be effective at lowering rates of psychologically stress-related diseases. Department of Health Promotion and Human Behaviour, Kyoto University

A study from Tel Aviv University shows that vacations can provide a respite from strain and relief from burnout. Faculty of Management, Tel Aviv University

Psychologists and researchers have been studying how to create an ideal vacation that boosts our well-being, relieves stress that can impact our health, and helps us recharge for returning to work. Some conclusions: Longer vacations aren’t necessarily better than shorter ones. Engage in activities you haven’t done before, even if you’re at home on a staycation. And end a trip on a high note. Sumathi Reddy, The Wall Street Journal

Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Harvard Medical School used a rigorous study design to assess the biological impact of meditation compared to vacation. The researchers found that a resort vacation provides a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune pathways, in addition to short-term improvements in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and distress. Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Studies have found that people who engaged in more leisure activities reported more life satisfaction, fewer negative emotions, tended to be more spiritually connected, and reported having a lot of support from family and friends making them feel more content. Cynthia M. Thaik M.D., Psychology Today

According to a 2013 Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association, vacations can help manage stress and negative emotions by removing us from environments and activities that are the sources of our stress. American Psychological Association

SOCIAL CONNECTIONS & RELATIONSHIPS

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. Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez, University of Texas

When you travel with others, a great benefit is that it offers you a bonding experience, which can strengthen your relationships. According to a survey, many couples feel an overall increase in their perception of closeness and shared interests with their partners after traveling together. These couples reported a higher satisfaction out of their relationships and were much more likely to report better communication. U.S. Travel Association

Studies indicate that leisure activities with family, such as traveling, can increase a sense of connectedness between family members, including children and their parents. Philip L. Pearce, Handbook of Tourism and Quality-of-Life Research

A Momondo study showed that 76 percent of people surveyed say that traveling has made them more tolerant, trusting, and accepting of others. Momondo

Wallace J. Nichols, author of "Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do" reports that travelling also helps reset our emotions. We are more compassionate with ourselves and others vacationing. Wallace J. Nichols, Blue Mind

ENHANCED CREATIVITY & INSPIRATION

In recent years, psychologists and neuroscientists have begun examining more closely what many people have already learned anecdotally: that spending time abroad may have the potential to affect mental change. In general, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind. Brent Crane, The Atlantic

The power of a vacation can help gain insights, appreciate the present moment, and allow you to return to "real life" with a renewed sense of excitement. Elizabeth Landau, CNN

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that people who travel abroad are more open, emotionally stable, culturally aware, and experience an increase in cognitive flexibility. Shinobu Kitayama, Kerry Kawakami, M. Lynne Cooper, CNN

Studies have demonstrated that traveling internationally can actually have major impacts on personality and that sojourners can develop new values and understanding from travel. Zimmermann, Julia Neyer, Franz J., APA PsychNET

Traveling provides a good deal of delight when you’re actually doing it, but what about when it’s time to return home and start tackling goals and deadlines? The evidence points to the suggestion that regularly traveling actually improves productivity and work performance. Settling into a mundane pattern of lots of work and little play can make you feel jaded and demotivated, which can be overcome by a trip every now and then. Department of Physiology, University of Vienna

One study found that recuperation from high levels of pre-vacation work strain was successful when the trip was organized in such a manner that the vacationers got to enjoy free time, lots of sun, exercise, and the opportunity to form new acquaintances. Department of Physiology, Medical University of Vienna

ELEVATED HAPPINESS

Scientists Say That Traveling Makes Us Much Happier Than Any Material Wealth. DailyHealthPost Editorial

A 2014 Cornell research study found that people experience more happiness just knowing they are going on a vacation versus knowing they are going to be purchasing something. Amit Kumar, Matthew A. Killingsworth, Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University

A study done in 2002 by professors at the University of Surrey found that people are happiest when they know they have a trip coming up. So just the act of planning a vacation can significantly improve your overall well-being. David Gilbert, Junaida Abdullah, University of Surrey

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University has been studying the correlation between money and happiness for over twenty years. He told Fast Company that his research shows that people who spend their money on experiences are generally much happier than people who spend their money on items, and it helps us feel connected and involved with other people. Jay Cassano, Fast Company

The satisfaction we get from buying vacations, bikes for exercise and other experiences starts high and keeps growing. The initial high we feel from acquiring a flashy car or megascreen TV, on the other hand, trails off rather quickly, reports a new Cornell study. Buying travel experiences leaves you happier in the long run than buying things. George Lowery, Cornel Chronicle

HEART HEALTH

Another study, published in 2000, looked at 12,000 men over nine years who were at high risk for coronary heart disease. Those who failed to take annual vacations had a 21 percent higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. Alina Tugend, The New York Times

A collective research commissioned by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and the United States Travel Association shows that men who do not indulge in a yearly vacation are at a 20% higher sudden death risk and display a 30% elevated risk of contracting heart disease. Chris Erskine, LA Times

Stress can be a huge factor in heart disease since it can lead to higher blood pressure and blood-sugar levels that gradually weaken the circulatory system. Studies indicate that men who do not take a vacation from work for several years are much more likely than others to suffer from heart attacks. Brooks B. Gump, PHD/MPH, Karen A. Matthews, PHD, Psychosomatic Medicine

A longitudinal study on heart disease also showed that those who took only one travel vacation every six years or less were more likely to suffer from myocardial infarction and coronary death, as compared to those who travelled each year. Elaine D. Eaker Joan Pinsky, William P. Castelli, American Journal of Epidemiology

OTHER ARTICLES & RESOURCES

By keeping us active and engaged, travel certainly promotes well-being. Indeed, the levels of correlation between travel and certain areas of health are remarkably clear. Even more, the data presented in this paper reflect and underscore the common-sense view that travel broadens the mind, refreshes the spirit and contributes to good health – both physical and mental. Global Coalition On Aging

Traveling somewhere new can enable you to immerse yourself in new surroundings, boost your brain power and fully recharge. With this in mind, here are five reasons why traveling is smart for the mind, body and soul and expert tips for making the most out of your vacation days to rejuvenate and ensure a stress-free getaway. Julie Loffredi, US News & World Report

Five Reasons Why Travel Is Good For Your Mental Health. It's no news that travel is good for your physical wellbeing, but a significant amount of scientific research suggests that exploring a new place can do wonders for your mental and emotional health as well. Noma Nazish, Forbes

How Vacations Can Affect Your Stress Levels. Elizabeth Scott, MS, Verywell Mind

This Is How Traveling Is Scientifically Proven To Relieve Stress, Depression And Anxiety. Anyone who’s traveled will tell you that compared to everyday life, there’s definitely something about travel that makes you feel better. Even when you’re waiting for a train on a dreary day or sitting cramped between two strangers on a plane, the fact that you are going somewhere new, beautiful, and interesting, can leave even the grumpiest of people with a smile on their face. Nikita Shorikov, Trip Jaunt

7 scientific facts that prove travel is good for your health. Matador Network

Anybody who has traveled outside his or her comfort zone can attest to the excitement that comes from being in a new environment. As research has shown, travel is not only exciting; it also offers the following six health benefits. Emily Holland, The Chopra Center

Travel helps people stay healthy longer, study shows. Fox News

Studies Show How Travel Can Make You Smarter And Healthier. Traveling can improve your overall health and boost your creativity. It can positively affect your ability to be innovative while helping you de-stress, which improves your brain health, heart health and physical health. Lauren Curatola, Lifehack

Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad. Globe-trotting isn’t just fun and interesting – there’s adequate research to show that travelling can be highly beneficial for emotional, mental and physical health as well. Yale Tribune

25 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Traveling. The truth is that traveling does have the potential to make us healthier, both physically and psychologically. We may not be actively aware of it, but traveling can bring about substantive positive changes, which can take effect both during the course of travel and over the longer term.Helen Nichols, Well-Being Secrets

5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travel. Researchers have dedicated plenty of time and energy to dig into the science of travel to determine the many proven health benefits that come with hitting the road or the open skies. Jennifer Wood, The Points Guy

Health benefits of traveling abroad (proven by scientists). For those people who have the incredible common I-want-a-vacation syndrome – science is actually on your side. Lilly Oddy, Worldation

While trips and vacations might seem like simply a luxury, according to science, traveling really is good for your health. So you might want to do what you can to make some space for it. Annakeara Stinson, Elite Daily

Science Proves That Traveling Can Boost Your Health And Overall Well-Being. Numerous studies have found taking time off to travel not only gives us a breather from work, but also boosts our health, state of mind and overall well-being. David K. William, Lifehack

The Many Ways Travel Is Good for Your Mental Health. Most experts agree that travel has powerful mental health benefits. According to Dr. John Denninger, a psychiatrist, expert on mind-body science and the director of research for the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, travel is on balance "absolutely" good for mental health. David Levine, US News & World Report

It is becoming increasingly clear that traveling has a number of psychological benefits. Planning ahead and taking that vacation we have been dreaming about can have a positive impact on our well-being, relationships, and maybe even our personality. Miriam Kirmayer, PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology

Psychologist Todd B. Kashdan believes that travel should routinely be used to get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to uncertainty, and eschew rest for exploration and learning. The result is personal growth - greater emotional agility, empathy, and creativity. Todd B. Kashdan, Harvard Business Review

7 Reasons Why Travelling is Good for Your Mental Health. Guiselaine Capella, Psychreg

Taking a vacation and having a change of scenery can work wonders, and it has been scientifically proven that travel provides a number of benefits to your mental health. Just one trip away could help change your outlook on life for the better. Hannah Jury, Psych Central

5 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad. Larry Alton, NBC News

Why Travel Is Good for Your Mental Health. Travel is great way to rejuvenate your mind. Jean Kim M.D., Psychology Today