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Health Benefits of Travelling Abroad

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There’s nothing like the anticipation of a holiday abroad. You’ve booked the flights, the hotel is perfect and you’ve already downloaded the holiday countdown app on your phone. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been abroad; the feeling you get when you’ve booked the holiday is the same: excitement for a getaway.

Travelling abroad has changed considerably over the last ten years. If you ask your parents or your grandparents, yes, they will have travelled, but it’s the attitudes towards travelling that differ the most. 

The motivation to travel today is growing, with most millennials choosing to prioritise spending their money on experiences over materialistic items. There are many reasons why people find travelling abroad attractive, whether it’s the adventures, the cultural differences or even the Instagram pictures. The common denominator has to be the feeling that it gives people. No one can argue that travelling abroad doesn’t make you feel good.

Whether it’s a short city break or a six-month stint in Southeast Asia, the designer clothing just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore, it’s all about the travel. And why not?

With the ease in which people are now able to travel, it’s hard to find a valid reason to say no. With the vast variety of budget flights and cheap accommodation, including all-inclusive holidays to Dubai, why wouldn’t you? 

However, going back to the feeling. There’s something about the freshness of the new environment, the different air and spending time with your family and friends that makes you feel good. 

However, just like the rise in travel over the last few years, there has also been a rise in those suffering from mental health. With 1 in 8 people under the age of 19 in England having a mental health disorder, questions linger as to how we can support and prevent our future generations from battling with mental health.

Mental health and travelling abroad

But what is the solution to mental health? There isn’t a complete solution, but there is an extensive list of ways to support those struggling with a mental health disorder, from medication to therapy and now CBD oils. What many aren’t aware of is the correlation between good mental health and travelling abroad.

When you put the words travel and mental health together, there’s an instant parallel – whether it’s “I can’t wait to relax”, “I can’t wait to take a break”, or “I can’t wait for a week of all-inclusive food and drink.” Whatever it may be, there’s a switch in your head that immediately flicks to ‘relaxation mode’ and you’re finally in your happy place. 

What are the benefits?

So should we do more of it? Travelling abroad can reduce stress and increase creativity, so there’s definitely a strong market for it, but what are the main positives?

  • Finding yourself. Now we’re fully aware that this is the most overused phrase when it comes to travelling and often said with tongue in cheek. However, when you’re suffering with your mental health, finding yourself again can be a positive step in the right direction. Travelling gives you the opportunity and time to evaluate yourself, your thoughts and how you choose to change or adapt them for the better. Doing this abroad can have a much deeper impact, as you’re taking yourself away from your normal lifestyle and reflecting with a fresh mindset away from the strains of everyday life.
  • Stress buster. Whether a short city break or a two-week luxury holiday, any time away from the office or the hustle and bustle of everyday life is great stress relief. Remember, you don’t always have to sit around and relax to relieve stress. By keeping your days busy and occupying your mind with different activities like sight-seeing or a boat trip, you will also enable yourself to switch off, refresh and rejuvenate.
  • The science. Without getting too scientific, travelling can build your immune system and make your body stronger. When abroad, you will be exposed to new environments and scenarios that sometimes you cannot avoid. Whether that’s eating street food, using public transport or participating in crazy excursions, there will be new germs and bacteria everywhere. For someone with a mental health disorder, this could be a little scary, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Exposing yourself to this, in turn, can make you fight off illness more effectively in the future. That isn’t to suggest that you ignore all basic hygiene rules; remember, hand sanitiser is your best friend, but just be open to your surroundings and know that it is only making your body stronger.
  • Realising the differences in life. Another great way that travelling abroad can support your mental health is by helping you understand another perspective. Travelling abroad isn’t always about beaches and 5-star hotels. Some people may choose to visit countries where the culture and meaning of life are far from their own. Sometimes, seeing other people and the way they live can make you view your life in a different light.
  • Mental and physical strength. Travelling abroad isn’t always plain sailing. It can throw unexpected curve balls and leave you in a position you didn’t expect to be in. Dealing with these types of scenarios can be particularly more difficult, as the solution isn’t always as straightforward. This forces you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and be flexible and adaptable. 

Although for someone struggling with their mental health, this can seem overwhelming and daunting, it’s a great way to build your mental resilience and learn to be more patient, calm and mentally strong in the future. 

Before you go

If you are going on holiday, you’ll have better peace of mind if all of your documents are ready. Be aware of countries that may need visas. Paperwork can be a mess but luckily these days, countries such as Oman will offer an Oman visa, so it can all be done online before you go.

Always make sure that your passport is in date (it needs to have six months left before you travel) and that you have researched where you’re going so that you know the customs and traditions.

Enjoy!

There are plenty of health benefits of travelling abroad – not only can it be better for mental health, but also physical health. The most important part is to remember to take in everything that you experience and take the plunge if you are faced with something new.

Create memories on your next holiday and your health will be better for it.


Helen Bradfield, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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