Health Benefits of Travel for Parents
Did you know that in 2018 American workers left 768 million days of paid time off go unused? Yes, you read that right: 768 million days of paid time off. As in, still getting a paycheck even though you are off frolicking in the sunshine or on a ski slope somewhere. Paid. According to the U. S. Travel Association, this lost vacation time equals 27.2% of workers’ available time off. I don’t know about you, but I’ll gladly go in their place. You might think you’re helping around the office or that it’s good for you to get ahead on work, but the truth is that there are significant health benefits of travel, especially for parents and families.
Industries Pit Work Against Health
In many companies and industries, there is a culture that makes people feel as though taking vacation time is a bad thing, but it’s actually the opposite. The health benefits of travel outweigh whatever stress you think you might be saving yourself from by skipping that vacation. If you feel like you are unable to get away, that’s a sign that you need a vacation even more than ever.
These industries built on a foundation of work and overwork, cause employees to experience substantial guilt at the thought of leaving their work behind to go and do something fun and frivolous. But no matter how important your role, or how pressing your project is, the work will still be there in a week, and there is no denying the major health benefits of turning your phone off, your out-of-office response on, and getting out of town for nothing but fun. While it’s certainly true that there are health benefits of travel for parents, couples who travel together also reap the benefits of a break from work and time to really be together and recharge.
Physical Benefits of Travel
Multiple studies have shown that taking vacations is good for your heart and blood pressure.
- According to the LA Times, “Women who vacationed every six years or less had a significantly higher risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death compared with women who vacationed at least twice a year,” and ,” Men who did not take an annual vacation were shown to have a 20% higher risk of death and about a 30% greater risk of death from heart disease.”
- And according to The Yale Tribune, the mental health benefits of travel are just the start; you can receive significant physical benefits from the mental break, including exposure to different environments and antibodies than you would encounter at home.
The short version is that your mind can rest easy and your body can build up its defenses. In fact, The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has found that travel can slow down the aging process and says, “It Is becoming increasingly clear that as one travels, one will be healthier, which is good for the individual as well as society.”
Mental Health Benefits of Travel
Travel also offers positive mental health benefits. Studies have shown that people feel less depressed, more creative, more satisfied with life overall, and just generally happier. These health benefits affect their partners and children in positive ways. According to a study done by the US Travel Association, couples who travel more are much more satisfied in their marriages than couples who do not. In their research, they found that couples communicate better, feel a greater emotional closeness, and believe that they share similar goals and desires than those who do not travel together.
Mental Health Benefits for Business Travel? Not Quite
Before anyone offers the argument, “I travel for business,” there is scientific research that shows that unlike personal travel for vacation, business travel has the opposite effect and is bad for your health. According to the Harvard Business Review, “those who spent 14 or more nights away from home per month had significantly higher body mass index scores and were significantly more likely to report the following: poor self-rated health; clinical symptoms of anxiety, depression, and alcohol dependence; no physical activity or exercise; smoking; and trouble sleeping.
The odds of being obese were 92% higher for those who traveled 21 or more nights per month compared to those who traveled only one to six nights per month, and this ultra-traveling group also had higher diastolic blood pressure and lower high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol).”
The Bottom Line: Health Benefits of Travel Outweigh Any Work Guilt
While you may feel guilty for taking time away from work or leaving your children with their grandparents for a couples-only trip, you will be a happier, more productive person for those same coworkers and children who depend on you day in and day out. Think of that old adage, “You have to spend money to make money,” but apply it to your time.
In order to be your best self for all of the people in your life, and to have the energy to accomplish all that you want to do, you need to take some time away to operate at your highest level of mental and physical health. If you cannot get away, just the two of you, there are plenty of resorts, cruises, and other destinations that offer kids’ clubs with engaging activities for your children while you go for an adult-only dinner or excursion, or if you simply want alone time in your room.