Why does travel make us happy?
The significance of travel to our lives takes many forms, but the most obvious has to be happiness. No one can describe that feeling when we buy a train or a plane ticket, whether we are going away only for a day or a whole year. A mixture of fear, excitement, expectations and joy is the perfect recipe, no matter what kind of traveller you are. I’m the kind of person who will have everything figured out before a trip. My preparations consist of many hours spent on the internet, planning, looking at what I’m going to see and imagining who I’m going to meet. I even look forward to arriving in the hostel room I book, even though I know I’ll spend most of my time exploring.
The research behind the travel bug
Is travelling important when we talk about happiness? Studies say that 83% of people find travel very important to their happiness. The value lies in the fact that they are gaining new experiences, and getting to know a new culture. Research also shows that people like to travel with their friends or partner more than solo travel, and 71% of people said that travels are more important than retirement, buying new house, a car or marriage. When asking people what their dream destination would be, their first choices were Australia and New Zealand, the second Antarctica and third, Africa. Fairly unsurprisingly, Google found that 60% of people find their travel inspiration through search engines.
The value of escaping and re-charging
Travelling allows us, even forces us, to spend some time with ourselves and turn away from social media for a while. Travelling to another place is travelling into the unknown, which increases our confidence, develops a new skillset, and gives us that unique feeling of fulfilment. Even a short trip might be enough to help us re-evaluate and appreciate our home and family more – because although homesickness and culture shock are normal and important, they put our lives in perspective too. Escaping our comfort zone throws us together with different people and allows us to connect with those we’d never have otherwise made friends with, widening our social landscape. Psychologists have proven that an active brain increases our happiness, so the process of learning and challenge – whether it’s learning how to cook Indian food or practising yoga – makes us feel content.
The statistics and hard evidence prove that travel equals happiness, but experiencing the unknown ourselves is all the evidence we need. From researching, to following the learning curve, to creating and sharing memories; what are you waiting for: travel!
Words by: Kaja Kren
Check out HI Slovenia’s travel magazine Globetrotter here.