Spring has officially arrived, which means that the minds of people everywhere turn to a variety of things, including cleaning out the attic, the adventures of Saturday morning yard sales and yes, hitting the open road. There’s just something about feeling the sun on your skin that makes thousands of people every year gas up the car and head out to travel to parts unknown (with today’s GPS, that means fascinating places like New Orleans, Los Angeles or New York City.)
But travel can mean a lot more than just exploring a new place or seeing some of the sites where you favorite TV show is being filmed. Getting out of your current environment can expand your mind in a manner that a good book or the latest travel documentary can’t even pretend to compete with. So, let’s take a look at some of the ways that getting away for just a few days can really help your overall state of mind.
Travel can reduce stress.
This is truly a given. Sometimes we all just need a little time away from our real-world lives, where we can forget about paying bills, that new project at work or even going to the gym. Some people claim that even starting the planning process for a couple of days away can send them into their favorite Zen place.
If you are wanting to plan a stress-free getaway, consider the types of situations that push your red button for stress, as that each person can be different. When a lot of people and crowded spots send you into a panic, then stay away from large cities or events that will create that type of environment. If you really want to get away from it all, think about camping or going to an area that boasts a lot of natural attractions.
Travel can take you out of your comfort zone.
Many find that, if you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut in your life, finding ways to step outside of your level of comfort can work wonders. While you can volunteer at the office for a task not exactly in your wheelhouse, hopping on a plane and going to an unsuspected destination will also do the trick.
Some travelers, even though they’re miles away from their ordinary worlds, still stay within their safety zones, visiting the usual museums on that same trip that they take every year to Chicago. However, traveling is good excuse to do something unexpected. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “When I Rome…” Well, flip that around to, “When in Mexico,” and go cliff diving. If that’s a little extreme for your blood, find something that’s just enough out of character to make you feel brave or heroic, especially when you’re telling the story to friends and family back home.
Travel can teach you things about yourself that you’d never even imagine.
We have all heard the “Eat, Pray, Love” adventures that travelers experience when visiting exotic locales. If you can and want to fly halfway around the world to see who the new “you” might be in Bali or Mumbai, then go for it! However, you can explore your inner self just steps from your own backyard, if you’re really looking for it.
The main reason that travel can help you to take a good long look at yourself is pretty simple. Often, we become who we are based on our environments, including factors like the people we surround ourselves with, the type of professions we have chosen or the different types of neighborhoods in which we live. When you remove all or some of these elements, then it makes it a lot easier to be introspective and learn how we might function in different situations, especially without our favorite creature comforts. (Check out some tips to travel green!) For example, you can learn a lot about a person when you’re driving cross-country without cell service for a hundred miles or so!
Travel can make you feel “free.”
The word “free” can mean a lot of different things to different people, but I’m talking about the sensation that you experience when you don’t have a care in the world, and it seems as if anything could be possible. It’s kind of like the feeling that you get when you’re out on the open road, with an entire week before you have to return to reality, and each city sign that you pass represents an unknown exploration.
Everyone needs to experience this at regular intervals. It is not only great to clear the mind, but it’s also good for your health, as it lowers your stress levels and gives your body a chance to heal and repair itself from the toxicity that these uneasy and worrisome feelings can create. This is also the time that you can see all of the possibilities open to you with a clear mind. So many times we spend so much energy trying to change the world around us, rather than changing ourselves. Being in a new environment can make this easier to achieve than ever before.
There are so many other benefits of checking out of your life and into a relaxing hotel for the weekend, but I think you get the idea. Often, there can be no better medicine than to just “get away.” A bed and breakfast the next city over can even help you to reap some of the same benefits as backpacking across Europe. Sometimes, it’s not about the destination at all, but what it can represent at that exact moment in your life, especially when you need it the most.
Angela Ash is a writer for many sites and magazines, specializing in topics related to mental health, self-improvement and travel. She is also the owner of Destination Diaries, a travel and entertainment site, where you can find many more of her travel-related articles.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.