This is the time that everyone is making their new year resolutions right? The most popular ones remain the same, year after year… Lose Weight, Manage Finances, Travel… The three don’t really go well together however, but we’ll ignore that fact for now!
Ultimately, the purpose of the resolutions are because we want to be happy; by feeling better about ourselves, not stressing over bills and seeking new experiences. Whilst I could write a book on losing weight (former life as a bodybuilder), I’ll focus on travel cos it’s much more fun and for me personally, it brings a great deal of joy to my life on a daily basis. So read on and I’ll give you several reasons as to why I believe Travel makes you happy…and then you can check out a previous post on How to Make Your Home Fund Your Travels 🙂
Reasons Travel Makes You Happy
It’s actually proven that we can get more of a thrill from the booking and anticipation of a holiday than from the holiday itself. I remember as a child spending hours laying on the floor, surrounded by travel brochures, choosing hotels and destinations that I would present to my parents for our next family holiday. I would scour every detail, how many pools the resort had, how close to the beach, what sports it offered, how many restaurants, they would all be compared and marked with post-its their top features. Once the holiday was booked, the countdown began…so exciting!
To be honest, not much has changed, except that brochures are obviously a thing of the past and I scour through websites instead. Part of the planning would also include buying new ‘holiday clothes’, sunglasses, accessories, and yes, probably start a ‘bikini diet’ too…!
Surely the only time you actually don’t mind setting your alarm for 3am is when it’s to get to the airport for your holiday flight, right? I always have my bags mostly packed, just space for toiletries to be added after I’ve showered, my travel clothes laid out the night before.
The chances of me actually waking on the alarm are slim to zero…am I the only one who wakes every 30 minutes to check that the alarm is definitely set, worried that I’ll miss it…even though I’ve set three different alarms?!
Still, closing the front door, cases in tow, passport checked 20 times, and starting off to the airport is always fun!
Experiencing new things and places stimulates the mind and senses. When you travel, everything is new to you, your accommodation, the transport, the city. You are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and listening to new things all the time and this brings wonder and joy. For me, I love getting lost in new places…which isn’t hard as I have absolutely no sense of direction! But this is where the adventure starts, where you are likely to discover the best streets, restaurants, cafes, local hideouts. Of course, having Google maps on your phone may help eliminate the stress of getting back to your accommodation too…!
If you are anything like my husband and I, we absolutely LOVE trying new foods. Wherever we go, we try to find the local’s favourite place to eat, be it street food, a cafe or high class restaurant. Don’t be afraid to try things you’ve never heard of, and certainly don’t dismiss an eatery by the way it looks…some of our favourite places to dine are enjoyed on plastic tables and chairs, and scratched orange melamine plates! This is also a great time for people watching, taking in local customs, observing how dishes are cooked. Put your phone down and be present when you eat, you’ll get so much more enjoyment from it.
No responsibilities. Ok, well there are still some, but you can leave thoughts of washing, cleaning and work behind when you travel. We love not setting an alarm and waking up naturally several times. That said, never miss the opportunity to view an amazing sunrise where you are, or join a full day excursion, for the sake of a few hours extra sleep.
Another tip ladies – have you ever left your handbag at ‘home’ and just gone out with your phone, a credit card and your keys in your pocket? Your shoulders will thank you for it and you’ll feel so free!
Learn to appreciate what you have. It’s when we are away, especially for long periods of time that we miss the ones we love the most. We think of friends and family we may not have spent enough time with and wish they were with us to experience what we currently are.
People also realise how great their home country really is when they travel. When we see hardships in other places, or deal with extreme weather, or don’t have easy access to fresh drinking water, or can’t get around as easily…we understand that actually we’re pretty lucky to live where we do and have a much greater appreciation for it when we return.
Gain independence. I’m a huge advocate of taking a ‘Gap Year’ between college and University, having done it myself. I worked my butt off doing two jobs through college and for six months after, then took off with my best friend to go travel for the rest of the year before starting University. The memories we created in that time are some I still cherish the most in my life. It also taught us so much, from map reading (yes, this was pre-google maps and smart phones!), to budgeting, researching hostels, learning to camp and put up a tent, dealing with storms in the middle of the night when the tent collapsed, and tomato picking in the middle of a field, miles away from anywhere. Our livers certainly took a whack in that time, but we also grew up a lot too.
New challenges. Travel has a different meaning for most people, some like to flop on a beach, some want to explore big cities, some like safaris and some are seeking a historical adventure. It’s likely that no matter what your trip entails, you will be faced with a new challenge. My gap year companion did a bungee jump, got a tattoo and came home with a few more piercings… I’m not that brave (although I did get the piercings!), but for me diving with sharks around us, learning to surf (unsuccessfully!) and white water rafting were challenge enough.
Meet new people. Even the most introverted of people can’t escape meeting new people when you travel. We’re particularly fortunate in that spending most of our time on a ship means we get to know people from all over the world on a daily basis. Learning new cultures, customs, languages and even their comfort foods! When we step off the ship we’re meeting local people, from tour guides to shop owners and anyone else we come across. I really love chatting to tour guides, not only can they answer just about any question on their town/country, but also with their work usually being seasonal, they tend to be pretty transient themselves and can talk about many other countries they’ve visited.
We can learn so much from these connections, not just how different others can be, but also how similar. A smile is the same in any language and will always take you far 🙂
Connect with nature and the world around us. Our Western world is one full of hustle and bustle, light pollution and ever-expanding populations. Getting away from all of this is truly a breath of fresh air and great for our mental health. Depending on where you live, you may not even have to go far, just head into countryside, or a desolate beach, or seek mountains or a quiet lake. Sit and take it all in. Listen to the sound of the birds, or the water, or the wind blowing. Feel the clean air on your face. Take in the natural scenery and colours of the landscape or flowers. Maybe take a book, and just relax for a few hours. You’ll be amazed how good you feel after this.
Extra tip, take a mental picture of your surroundings, every single detail of it. Then, when you are back at work or in a stressful situation, close your eyes and recall the picture…you’ll find yourself relax (even just a small amount) instantly.
Gain confidence. Taking the first step to go travelling, especially if alone or for a longer period, can be daunting. You are entering the unknown, and if it’s a different language too, that can be an added pressure for you. You will need to work out new currencies, unknown foods, local transportation… If you can get over the fear and just take the plunge, you will discover that actually working through those things can be a lot of fun, and you WILL figure it out! There are so many Facebook groups for travellers these days too, you are never really alone. With every new challenge you overcome, your confidence will build, and soon you will look back and laugh at your initial fears.
That said – always stay safe, especially females travelling alone. Make sure someone knows where you are and checks in with you regularly and be extra cautious at night time.
Give back. There are so many adventures you can do which focus on sustainable travel and volunteering in local communities. As human beings, we naturally gain happiness from giving and receiving, so what better way to combine this? It’s called ‘Voluntourism’ and you can google it to find many organisations which offer programs. They can include counting wildlife, building smokeless kitchens in Peru, help to free bears in Laos, or challenge yourself to a trek whilst raising money for your favourite charity.
You will change from being immersed in these local villages, learning their hardships and how they remain positive despite this, and they will change from the help you give them – win-win.
Have I inspired you at all? If you are seeking more happiness in your life, you can spend a ton of cash on counsellors, buy yourself loads of self-help books which you’ll never read, or put your money towards your next travel adventure! The memories you create will last a life-time, the connection you build with your travel companion or the people you meet will be treasured forever, and the life skills you learn will be invaluable (yes, I’m being flippant, I’m not disregarding the work of counsellors!).
You don’t have to go far, if you have a limited budget just get out of your home town and explore your own country. A staycation can work wonders, as well as helping your own nation’s economy.
So what are you waiting for? If you want some inspiration, check out my destination blogs, or go wild – throw a pin in a map and see where it lands! As the quote says, ‘Travel is the one thing you buy which actually makes you richer’…or something like that!
Let me know if you enjoyed this post, where your next travel adventure is taking you to, and what makes you happy when travelling?
Thanks for reading, see you next time 🙂
Wendy A x