5 Health Benefits of Travel

If you’ve been looking for a good excuse to book your next vacation, your search is over! There is actual scientific evidence that taking vacations improves your health.

Time Zone Globe Schiphol Airport Netherlands

Here are 5 reasons why you should travel for better health:

  • 1. Even just planning a trip will make you feel happier, and mental health matters!

A 2002 study by researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that people are at their happiest when they are anticipating an upcoming trip. People who were planning a trip experienced more joy and even felt better about both their health and their economic situation.

People perceive their overall quality of life to be better when they are looking forward to the next adventure.  And as if that were not enough evidence to get you started in planning a trip, a 2014 Cornell University study found that looking forward to a travel experience caused more joy than anticipating the purchase of something special.  We are happier when we have new experiences than when we acquire more “stuff”, according to another Cornell study in 2010.

Sunway Resort Pool Malaysia

And how often should you plan a trip?  Diamond Resorts International did a study in 2014 and found that over 75% of people reported feeling happier when they planned a trip at least once every year. 

What if you actually go on a trip after all that planning? 

  • 2. Traveling helps your mental health

Women who go on vacations more often experience less depression than women who stay home.  A 2005 study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who vacation less often than once every two years are more likely to be depressed and stressed than women who vacation at least twice a year.  This benefit would undoubtedly be similar for men. 

The American Psychological Association conducted a survey in 2013 about stress in America and found that vacations help reduce stress and negative emotions because they take us away from the usual sources of our stress, such as the activities and environments that trigger us the most.  So it’s not always about where we go, but more about the escape that helps. 

At any rate, our health is better when our stress is lower.  One study found that even three days after a vacation, people who had traveled were in a better mood, felt more well-rested, and had less anxiety.  These effects even lasted to some extent for weeks after they returned home. 

Myrtle Beach South Carolina USA
Myrtle Beach South Carolina USA

The vacation doesn’t even have to be very long.  One study showed that a four-day long weekend helped people feel better for as long as 45 days.  Those who traveled somewhere on that break reported more well-being and less perceived stress, and they scored better on recovery and strain.

Clearly, we have established that travel helps your mental well-being.  But what about your physical health?

  • 3. Traveling decreases your risk of heart disease

The Framingham Heart Study is a long-running study which found that both men and women who traveled at least once a year were less likely to suffer a heart attack or develop heart disease.  The theory is that regular travelers are less stress or anxious, or that at least taking a break from the usual stress has great benefits. 

  • 4. Your immune system is stronger if you travel

Travelers are exposed to different environments (and therefore different viruses, dirt, gut bacteria, etc.) which cause your body to create stronger antibodies.  Research shows that this gives your immune system a boost.  So travel more, and get sick less! 

  • 5.  Traveling helps you live longer

It doesn’t matter whether you travel short distances or trek the globe, research shows that life expectancy is longer for travelers.  Research indicates that the stress reduction from travel actually helps increase brain health.  That in turn leads to living both better and longer.  Part of the brain health benefit comes from the fact that your brain makes new pathways and connections as you see and experience new things.  That’s great for the added benefit of increased creativity as well as brain health. 

So you see, there’s no need to feel that your desire to travel is frivolous.  It’s actually great way to take care of yourself.  Travelers experience a better quality of life and even live longer.  Clearly, most of these benefits are related to lowering your stress, which we know is a good idea for so many reasons.  There you have it, our permission to take a break.  Now, get started planning your next vacation – remember, even the dreaming and planning will help you feel better! 

Kuala Lumpur Tower Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Tower Malaysia

Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

Before researching the Pawnee Indians, I had not realized that they and some other Plains Indians lived part of the year in permanent dwellings. This is the site of one of those towns, and the museum is built around one of the actual dwellings.

This is a very interesting historical site, located near Republic, Kansas. The guide was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to. We went as part of a school group, and the elementary children also found everything to be interesting. Most of what you see is inside, but you can also see some points of interest outside.

It’s a little off the beaten path, but the signage is good and it is worth the drive.

Courtyard by Marriott, Kansas City South (Kansas City, MO)

UPDATE: This hotel used to have a hot tub, but as of April 2019, their hot tub was out of order with a sign that indicated it would not be fixed or replaced. 

We have always enjoyed this hotel, especially the nice pool area and hot tub. It’s bigger than a lot of hotel pools. They have recently remodeled inside the hotel and even the courtyard area, and everything looks great.

For a family get-together, this time we got the one bedroom suite, which has a nice living room area with a table and desk. It was nice and spacious, and it’s nice to have not only the extra space, but also a door that closes between the bedroom and the living-room/office area.

The staff is always friendly. It’s in a quiet area, even though it is close to the interstate. It does not have free breakfast like a lot of places do, but you can purchase breakfast.

It is one of the closest hotels to the International House of Prayer, and IHOP runs a shuttle between the hotel and their services. There is a special rate available for those visiting the area for IHOP. See www.ihopkc.org for more information.

It is also a short drive to many other Kansas City attractions, such as only 6 miles to KC Chiefs Stadium and KC Royals Stadium, 6 miles to Kansas City Zoo, 3 miles to Top Golf, and not much farther to Crown Center, Union Station, and Country Club Plaza. The hotel has a shuttle for destinations within 5 miles.

World War II P.O.W. Camp Museum, Concordia, KS –Part 1

This is just part 1 of our review of the WWII POW site. We visited without an appointment, but plan to return when we can actually see the inside of the museum

Although Google shows the site as open 24 hours, all you can see without an appointment is the guardhouse and a few old foundations down the road by the museum.

We have shared a photo from the door of the museum showing the phone number to call to schedule a tour. We will update our review after we can come back and have the tour. We highly recommend getting to see the inside of the museum, so definitely call ahead for an appointment.

One good thing was that the guard house has a guest book and some flyers available that explain a lot of information about the camp. The POW brochure is very informative, and they also had a brochure of other Concordia places of interest.

Making the Road Trip More Entertaining for the Family

How many more miles?  How much longer?  I’m BORED!

Sound familiar, parents?

One great solution that our family loves during our longer road trips is to listen to Adventures in Odyssey.  It’s a radio show done by Focus on the Family ministries.  Don’t confuse it with an audio book.  I’m sure that some of those can be nice, too, but these are dramas, with actors’ varying voices, sound effects, etc.  Just when everyone is getting on each other’s nerves, it’s great to stop and listen to a show together, laugh together, and enjoy each other’s company again.

There are a variety of collections available.  You start off with just a single CD if you’re not sure if your family will enjoy them or not.  For example, Amazon has this one:

One thing that we like about these CDs is that the whole family listens and enjoys them together.  It’s all part of a shared fun family memory, instead of each child being busy on their own device.

If you find that your kids enjoy them as much as ours do, and honestly we adults enjoy them, too, here are a few collections that are great.

Here’s our favorite collection (so far!):

In The Ultimate Road Trip, you’ll find that every story has a theme of some kind of vacation or road trip adventure.  For our family, these were the first we listened to on our first trip from the middle of the country to the East coast, so they have become classics that we go back and listen to again.  In fact, we also listened to the same stories on our trip to the West coast, and many other road trips as well.

Another good option for a starter CD would be this one, to explain all the main characters for those not familiar with the radio show:

If you would like to work on character development as well as entertain, there are themed collections, such as this one that includes different stories that highlight the importance of being honest:

This one is just a few episodes focusing on Respect:

Or, how could you go wrong with a special collection of fans’ favorite episodes?

These are just a few suggestions.  The main thing is to make sure to keep the road trip a fun family adventure, and these CDs help you all listen to the same thing, rather than each child listening to their own device on headphones.  You can laugh and enjoy the shows together.