Is it any wonder that after almost a year of lockdowns, stuck at home with trips to the grocery store being the highlight of our weeks that many of us are dreaming of packing a suitcase and getting away?
Yup, in a post-COVID19 world, travel could be one of your top wishes.
And whether you’re dreaming of a beach vacation, a mountain retreat or just a car trip an hour or two away from home, a new study is offering scientific backup for your wanderlust, demonstrating without a doubt that getting away could be one of the keys to happiness.
Support your happiness and wellness with frequent travel
The study, published in the journal of Tourism Analysis, specifically looked at whether or not frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.
While previous research looked at whether a single getaway could offer stress relief, health and wellness benefits (like a longer life!) researchers from Washington State University wanted to take it a step further to discover if those benefits could be sustained, improving your life over the long term.
The team gathered data from 500 participants, asking them about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over the course of a year. And of course, they were also asked to rate their perceived life satisfaction.
And this is what it came down to…
People who pay more attention to tourism-related information (you know – check out travel sites, read travel magazines and generally dream about their next vacation) and frequently discuss their travel plans with friends are more likely to go on regular vacations than those who aren’t constantly thinking about their next trip.
Makes sense right? But here’s where it gets really good…
Participants in the survey who reported regularly traveling at least 75 miles away from home also reported being about seven percent happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported traveling very rarely or not at all.
That’s right, you increase your happiness by seven percent by doing something you want to do anyway. It’s a win-win!
“While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction,” said Chun-Chu Chen, lead researcher and assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, said. “It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things.”
Traveling safely during the pandemic
Thankfully, according to experts, taking a trip isn’t out of reach right now as long as you take precautions.
And giving into the wanderlust may be just what you need to shake the pandemic blues.
First, it’s recommended to choose a destination that you can reach by car. This makes sense considering that being in your own vehicle limits your exposure to others.
Second, think about where you should go.
Places with less people and where you can spend more time outside than in are best. For example, heading to the beach or camping in a national park beats a big city vacation. And be sure to avoid areas where case counts may be starting to go up again.
Of course, be sure to practice the same safety and hygiene methods you would use at home, including wearing a mask when needed, social distancing and frequent hand-washing.
And be flexible with your travel plans. As things change, you may need to change with them.
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Frequent travel could make you 7% happier — EurekAlert!
Is it Safe to Travel? How to Vacation Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic — U.S. News & World Report