The United States Travel Association says roughly one out of five Americans thinks traveling is a birth-right. I am one of those people.
In fact, I think everyone should travel at least 50 days a year.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally crazy: I know most of us have bosses who would scoff at the thought of us taking more than two weeks (if you’re even that lucky).
But when you think about it, there are 52 weekends in a year, which means there are just over 100 days the normal American has off from the work grind.
We can easily spend at least half of that time traveling somewhere, whether it’s to a new city, state, country or even the other side of town. There is so much out there to discover.
Not only will traveling often open your mind and perspective to new ideologies, cultures and customs, but it will make you smarter and even more successful.
Studies indicate those of us who hit the open road instead of sleeping in on our days off are not just getting ahead of traffic, but in the work force, too.
People who experience varieties of culture are able to assimilate into their work environments better and move ahead of the competition.
At the end of the day, it’s all about personality. And that’s not something they can teach you in school, kids. You’ve got to seek that out yourself. And what better time to do it than on your days off?
Traveling makes us happier in all areas of life
The United States Travel Association reports taking trips outside of your normal daily routine makes you happier in many aspects of your life that people tend to lose sight of over time.
Apparently, a short trip is not only good for your peace of mind, but quality of life as well. The association reports things like blood pressure, heart rate and levels of epinephrine (a stress hormone) rapidly decline after just one to two days on vacation.
Happy body, happy life. But, the benefits from traveling as much as possible don’t just stop there.
Surveys from the USTA say four out of 10 people feel more romantic traveling, and nearly one-third of participants admit to having more sex on holiday.
Over half of the Americans surveyed agreed they feel closer and more connected to their families after traveling with them.
Fifty-two percent of people say they feel more rested and relaxed after coming back from their trips (I’m not sure how that number isn’t actually 100 percent), and that even the anticipation of travel creates an increase in positive feelings about one’s life as a whole, family, economic situation and health.
The most interesting finding from the entire study? Those who travel report a higher level of satisfaction with life while traveling, and those effects continue long after returning home.
Traveling abroad makes you smarter and more creative
The Atlantic reports on a study that investigated the effects of traveling abroad on creativity and problem solving in the brain.
Researchers found travelers who managed to visit and explore three or more different countries had higher levels of creativity than those who hadn’t traveled as often.
When we travel the world, we get to enrich our minds with the openness and unique perspectives one can only find by exploring.
In life, our daily comfort zones often lack the creativity and general heightened sense of adrenaline and adventure humans crave so deeply.
However, by fulfilling wanderlust, we manage to unlock the vaults to our imaginations and explore our own minds while trekking the world.
One who travels the world, becomes one with the world
By leaving behind things that comfort you and engaging in a new experience or trip, you begin to lose association to the small nook or community from which you came and, instead, enter a new realm.
You are no longer a daily commuter rushing to work on the L train — you are a traveler, exploring the sights around you, soaking in every moment like a sponge.
You are a world citizen, discovering your backyard for the first time.
Maybe this newfound sense of wonder, amazement and relief comes from the much needed insight into different lifestyles, cultures and people this world is made up of.
Currently, Americans get the least amount of vacation time among countries in the industrialized world an average of 8.1 days after a year on the job and 10.2 days after three years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But if we can find time on our weekends, days off and even a few “sick days” from work (don’t worry, I promise not to tell), we can get in the vacation time we so deserve.
It’s not just a matter of getting out of town. It’s about quality of life.