New Year, New Journey: The Many Benefits of Travel

travel abroadThis year, if you’re lucky enough to be offered time off, take the opportunity to reward your body and mind with travel. It’s a rare gift in the U.S. to have time off to relax, visit new places, and create lasting memories with family and friends, so make sure you fully appreciate it when you have the chance.

Americans get the least amount of vacation time among industrialized countries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We get an average of 8.1 days after a year on the job and 10.2 days after three years, which is half the amount (even less) than some other countries require companies to offer their employees.

And surprisingly, Americans left 4 out of an average 14 days of vacation they were offered unused over the past year, according to Expedia.com’s 13th annual vacation deprivation study.

Perhaps it because we’re under so much pressure to get so much done in such a little time, but it seems that we’ve forgotten why taking a vacation, and a much needed break from work, is so important.

Whether you take a trip to a far away place or stay relatively local for a weekend getaway, you will reap the benefits of travel:

  1. Stress ReliefStress can cause health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, ulcers, and more, so do your body and mind a favor and take a break. Vacations are a time to disconnect, relax, and practice mindfulness so you can return home feeling refreshed and recharged.
  2. Social connection – Spending time with family and friends is one of the greatest benefits of travel. A survey by the U.S. Travel Association revealed that 93% of children agreed that vacations were a chance to spend quality time with their parents, and 53% agreed that vacation time brought their family closer together. The bonding that comes with sharing experiences creates memories of happy “together time” that everyone will remember for a long time to come.
  3. Education – Traveling offers a chance to experience new things. It gives us a change of perspective and, through forcing us out of our daily routine and comfort zone, sharpens our minds. It also provides us with insight into history and other cultures, and maybe even the chance to learn a few words of a foreign language!
  4. Exercise – Walking is one of the best ways to get to know a new city, and having limited time to sightsee provides great motivation to get up and go out! And being out in the sun offers the added benefit of Vitamin D, which helps to regulate and strengthen the immune system.
  5. Improved professional performance – Workers who take time off tend to be more productive, have higher morale and are less likely to mentally “check out” on the job due to stress or fatigue. Research by the Society of Human Resources Management suggests a strong association between vacation time and employee performance and wellbeing. SHRM found that use of vacation time is linked with higher-performing employees, greater productivity and less lost work due to sickness.
  6. Economic benefits – Not only would you be investing in priceless lifelong memories for you and your family, but the travel industry creates jobs and supports governments through generated taxes revenues as well. According to the U.S. Travel Association, each U.S. household would pay $1,000 more in taxes without the revenue generated by travel and tourism.

The industry is an economic powerhouse, providing more than 14.4 million jobs in the U.S. and earning more than $124 billion in domestic tax revenues.

If you have some time off, we suggest you take that trip and experience all the amazing things life has to offer. Don’t wait or tell yourself there will be a better time to go — take the risk and turn it into an opportunity. When you come back you won’t be sorry that you left.

SelectQuote wishes you happy, healthy travels for 2014!

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