7 benefits of travel that research actually proves (in case you need a reason)

Is travel good for you?

I have ZERO doubt that travel is GREAT for you! But being an old academic at heart (little known fact: one of my previous lives was as a university lecturer and I have half a PhD), I have been tinkering with the idea of different ways to prove the many benefits of travel.

7 benefits of travel that research proves

One of these ways is looking at the research on the benefits of travel that’s out there already. You see, I actually love trawling through academic journal articles and that’s where I went looking to find out some of the “scientifically proven” benefits of travel. (I put scientifically proven in quotes because I remember the kind of research I did when I was an academic and it’s true that statistics can often be, well, massaged to say what you want to say, but anyway. You get the idea. File under “benefits of traveling statistics”, anyway.)

7 benefits of travelling proven by research

Actually, I think there are hundreds of benefits of travel, but I’ve picked out seven which are particularly important to me.

1. Travel gives you confidence

I was absolutely sure that of this already from my own experience – my travel experiences have vastly increased my confidence in so many aspects of life. But it was nice to read several studies which showed that self-confidence is increased by travelling.

Several of the studies looked at people who had spent six months or longer travelling, and I’m sure that long-term travel (which tends to be budget and independent travel) is a really wonderful way to increase your confidence; but another study suggested that short-term travel is often enough to give a confidence boost.

Travel makes you confident - the benefits of travel

Travel made me confident about many things – including eating pretty much anything I’m offered – though these tasty Thai treats were very easy to eat!

2. Travel keeps you young

Given that I hope I’ll have the chance to travel more and more (again) as I get older (especially when my son grows up, not that I want that to happen too fast), the news that travelling is very beneficial for seniors is music to my ears!

A research study with women over 65 showed that travelling was reversing their cognitive decline – we all hear these days that learning new things helps keep your brain fit and young and travelling is one of the best ways to learn new things. An excellent excuse for me to keep doing it forever, I reckon!

3. Travel makes you smarter

At the very least, travel makes you score better on tests and exams (whether that means “smarter” or not is probably a much bigger question!). Studies have shown a strong correlation between travel and grades in high school and college students – those who travelled abroad scored better.

I’m not sure if travelling helped my calculus skills, but it definitely improved my geography, history and language skills.

4. Travel makes you more tolerant and open-minded

Again, this is something I knew intuitively but it is great to see it in statistical black and white, because the idea that travel can increase people’s open-mindedness is one of the very core reasons I run this blog – I want everyone to travel more so that their minds are more open and their thoughts more tolerant towards people from different countries, cultures and religions. Surely that would make the world a better place, right?

Travel makes you open-minded and tolerant - benefits of travel.

Wisdom from the Berlin Wall – I think if we all travel and become more open-minded and tolerant, we really can alter the world

5. Travel makes you richer

How does that oft-shared quote go? It’s a little corny, but here it is:

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

It turns out that this is not just metaphorically true but literally true, in the money sense. A study in the US showed that American adults who had travelled outside of the US earned an average of $72,000, compared to non-travellers who earned only $52,000 a year.

6. Travel improves your interpersonal skills

Having to talk to all different kinds of people when you travel – often in a language that you don’t speak or just know the bare bones of – can be terrifying. It can also be very fulfilling – and the research agrees!

Lots of different studies have shown that people returning from travelling abroad have said that their interpersonal skills have been improved by their experiences. And that’s definitely true of my experience too.

Travel improves your interpersonal skills - benefits of travel

My interpersonal skills have been vastly improved by travelling and I’ll talk to anyone I meet now – these are some great high school students in Bangkok

7. Travellers are less conventional

I’m kind of conventional in many ways. I live in a house in the suburbs, I take my kid to school each day, I wear normal-looking jeans and tops and dye my hair brown only because otherwise there’s too much grey.

But in my head, I am unconventional. I care fairly little about what other people think about me and my decisions. I don’t want to travel to the conventional Eiffel Towers of the world, but want to see the less well-known corners of the world.

Where does this come from? I’ve always thought this interest in being unconventional came from travelling. And some of the research I’ve read lately suggests this is true!

 

Where the research comes from:

If you’re as geeky as me you might want to check out an academic journal called the Journal of Travel Research. They publish some fascinating stuff! Rather than listing a billion journal articles, though, I will refer you to a great lit review which pointed me towards all of this info: “The Educational Benefits of Travel Experiences: A Literature Review” by Matthew J. Stone and James F. Petrick, published in the Journal of Travel Research, volume 52, issue number 6.

 

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Comments

  1. I totally agree with all of these and love number 7!

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