The health benefits of travel don't have to end after your holiday.
It’s no secret that travel has lasting health benefits. Even looking past the fact that it often involves more exercise than usual, by eating healthier food (although that could go the other way, too), learning and so sharpening your brain, relaxing and enjoying life in general (assuming everything’s going to plan), travel can boost your immune system, reduce rates of depression, and perhaps stave off dementia.
So why can’t life at home be as rewarding in relation to your health?
According to scientific research and a report from Furthermore from Equinox, you can bring your happy, healthy feelings home with you and make them last. Try these suggestions on for size.
Make a holiday resolution
Stepping outside your life is the perfect time to look at it critically and to make a resolution to, well, make it better. Try a brisk morning walk or meditate, eat a healthier breakfast or have one less cup of coffee (or one more, if you believe Ben’s ‘mystery beverage’ article).
You could even try giving up smoking, read more or try breathing exercises to calm yourself down when you become angry. Get out more, immerse yourself in the arts, or just focus on being happy.
Then, once you get home, keep your new resolution in mind and keep it going.
Keep a food journal
If you’re trying new food that’s completely different from what you eat at home, make a note of it and find a recipe when you return. Jot down the name of the dish from the menu, ask the wait staff about the ingredients, or see if you can speak to the chef (sometimes they love that) about imparting their culinary wisdom. Once back home, you can make it yourself and be reminded of that night in Palermo when you first ate it.
Stay in touch with the people you meet
I know I bang on about this, but to have an authentic travel experience, you have to do what the locals do. You won’t find that in your tourist guidebook, which means you have to talk to the locals, check the notice board at the local café or join local social media groups.
If you’re into knitting, find a knitting group in New York, or if you’re fitness freak, see if there’s a running group in Rome, then keep in touch with them when you return. You never know, it may lead to free accommodation the next time you visit!
Create your own holiday soundtrack
Choose music that’s a little different from your home tunes, pick a song or artist for each city; then when you do get back home, play those songs any time you need a little pick-me-up. Scientists say that music stimulates memories and gives you a ‘reminiscence bump’.
Choose sentimental souvenirs
If you’re at a market in Mexico and see a handmade bracelet that takes your fancy, buy it and wear it for your entire trip. Handmade mementos and products made from local produce or materials such as wool or scented wood (assuming you can bring those into Australia) will give you a sense of nostalgia once you return. Even something that is remotely scented – as smell activates the brain regions responsible for memory and emotion – will potentially give you a lift when the chips are down.
Pick up on what the locals do or wear
If you like how the French dress, why not incorporate the fashion into your home life? Or if the hotel you’re in has cushions that give you a buzz, look for similar designs when you return. Why not even ask the hotel where they bought them, and pick some up for yourself? Again, holidays are the perfect time to be inspired. Why not take this opportunity to change your life for the better in the long term? Travel should change you. There’s nothing wrong with changing the clothes you wear or your outlook on life, if it makes you feel better. Buying some cushion covers or a few pairs of shoes or pants may feel materialistic, but it’s a great way to remind yourself of happier times and, as we all know, happiness makes for better health.
Take photos, but don’t get lost behind your camera (or smartphone). Take notes, but make sure you’re not always looking down, or you’ll miss out on the good stuff. Pick up a few knick-knacks here and there, such as the coaster from that bar in Manchester after a hearty meal and a few pints, or a leaf from the tree you were sitting under in Vietnam as you shared a kiss and a bánh mì. Take these memories home with you and make a scrapbook or stick them in your notebook. Put the coaster on your coffee table. Frame some of your favourite pictures and create a digital photo album of the rest. Being able to refer to your travel memories and discuss them well after the fact will increase your satisfaction levels, says a study from Cornell University.
Use these tips to maximise the benefits of your holiday and it will have long-lasting positive effects and, hopefully, keep you going until your next trip!
What’s your tip for making the effect of travel last longer? What’s your favourite memento from a holiday you’ve had?
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