Is there anyone who can deny that traveling makes us happy? No matter how long is our trip, even thinking of it makes us excited and boosts endorphin – the happiness hormone. Benefits of traveling for our mind and body are significant. Going on a journey can take us away from problems and help with stress management. But that’s not all! Traveling consciously helps us seeing and understanding the traveling benefits. Being aware, we can do something good for ourselves, the planet and the society. In this post I will talk about traveling benefits and why conscious travel is good for well-being.
What is conscious traveling?
In simple words conscious traveling is being aware of decisions we are taking during our trip – which places we go, where we sleep, where we eat or even what kind of sourvenirs we buy. All of these decisions can either help you, the environment as well as local communitities, or harm. I have been exploring this topics in my Conscious Travel Guide, and I kindly invite you to check it out in my “Shop” section.
Being aware also takes us deeper to our emotions. I strongly believe consciousness have a strong influnce on our mood, ability to slow down and relax. Traveling consciously we are able to see more what our body and mind need, what we really like, how we want to travel and so on.
What are the benefits of conscious travel?
Travel can be a tool to heal us from pain, relief from tension and give a boost of positive energy. We can benefit from traveling the most, when we measure our journeys not in photos we take but in experiences and meaningful memories we create. Some people take vacations to travel, some only go for the weekend trips in their country. The point is that you don’t need to go on expensive or long trip to benefit from traveling. You don’t need to spend a month in the jungle or force yourself to parachute to feel adventurous. Even small weekend escape to the nearest mountains will make a diference and take away from a daily rutine.
Traveling boosts our self-confidence
I think my story is a great example here. When I was starting to make small journeys during university times, I considered myself very closed and shy person. I didn’t speak english and whenever I met some foreigner I was trying to run away as soon as possible because hearing english without understanding it, was making me feel embarrassed. What’s more, I was scared to travel abroad. I heard about all the dangerous places, and the thought about leaving calm and stable life felt alarming.
Another fact, that scares people from traveling, and was a problem for me too, is MONEY. When I was a student, my savings were nearly equal zero and I was paralysed to think of having issues while traveling. Health problems, unexpected payments, robbery – so many things can happen when you are on the road, right? “Better stay home, safe and stable” – I was saying to myself.
Nevertheless, despite all inside doubts I started to travel and never regretted this decision. The desire of change, breaking out of routine and seek for adventure were stronger than all the fears. I quickly understood that you don’t need any special skills or a lot of money to travel. Everyone can find a suitable way of traveling in terms of conditions, destinations or costs. I managed to learn how to travel cheap and how to sleep for free when traveling.
My first trips were a great discovery of how to travel in general and how I find myself in completely new situations. I saved a lot on cheap transportation as well as thanks to all the kind people which gave me a lift while hitch-hiking. It was a crazy time but also a big lesson. Travel pushed me out of the comfort zone and put me into many challenges which empowered my inner strength and increased self-esteem.
Traveling helps to develop social contacts
A great boost of my self-confidence was due to staying with locals from Couch Surfing. An environment I was completely not accustomed to – coming to the house of a stranger and talking like we know each other for years. At the beginning, I have to admit, I used this type of accommodation only because lack of money. I was very shy and not able to find a topic for conversation with everybody. I thought – “I am just this kind of person and nothing can change” .
Of course, it’s true that we simply can’t be good friends with everybody. However, we can learn to communicate well with others, even a person which we wouldn’t make friends with in a regular life. That’s something I was learning for years and can clearly see a great improvement I got when it comes to meeting new people, respecting them and leaving a good impression. Now, Couch Surfing is not a way to save money for me, it’s much more than that. It’s my favorite way of accommodation as my trips were incredibly memorable thanks to the hospitality of locals.
Nowadays, as it’s easy to connect through internet, it’s such a beautiful feeling to have friends all around the world. I keep in touch through social media and with many of couch surfers I managed to meet again somewhere in the world. Friends will be always friends, no matter how far they are. Isn’t it just amazing that you are going to a foreign city, and someone you know is expecting you and wants to show you around his hometown?
A history and culture lesson
The great benefit of traveling is learning. There is no better lesson about history or culture than seeing things with your own eyes and experiencing with all your senses. Spending time with locals, you often get to see habits that are unique for their culture and learn some words in their language.
Traveling gives us the opportunity to appreciate the culture and heritage where we are. We can show respect by participating in the cultural events, taking local art-crafts workshops or going for the cooking class. For me the best way to experience the culture are local festivals. I have been on several weddings in different countries, traditional dance shows or religious festivals (crazy sh8t). Often shocking or surprising – were definitely events to remember for life. To be honest, when watching old photos I feel goosebumps when I recall some impressive happenings and can’t believe I was really there. The cultural heritage is something so unique that will never stop to amaze me.
That being said, immersing in other cultures teaches us to understand them and be more tolerant. The empathy comes especially when we see societies less developed and poor. It’s the moment many travelers can appreciate their home and family like never before and see how lucky they are.
Every trip makes you smarter
Everyone knows that learning Spanish would be much easier and efficient while being in Spain than sitting in a language school. Of course, this depicts all languages. This is how I learnt English and basic words in many languages. What’s more, I learnt swimming at the same time defeating my aquaphobia, learnt cooking international meals, got knowledge about other countries history that I never heard at school. Not to mention better ability to deal with different types of people and better problem solving skills.
Finally, the great traveling benefit is learning about myself. All the challenges I faced were a precious lesson of life, patience, being solutions oriented and developed a new set of skills that I didn’t even suspect I had. There is a quote by Mark Twain that I really like: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” This may sound like a cliché, but the money you spend on travel is an investment in yourself.
Traveling is healthy for your body
First things first – I am talking about healthy travel. Being on the road is often tiring, especially when our schedule is too intense or we get to overload ourselves with a big backpack. We cannot force our body to an extreme as this may lead to serious health issues. It’s all about finding balance and knowing our limits.
Personally, it took me a while to notice how important is well-being while traveling, especially in a long term. I developed my own way to travel, which, of course, is different for everyone. My preference is definitely slow travel which lets me immerse in the place and enjoy it to the fullest. Instead of heading to several destinations during few days, I rather choose one to rest, learn about it and spend time with local people. Moreover, despite that I love to have many clothes in general, when I travel, I choose a light luggage, as I really hate carrying it. I wrote this minimalist packing guide, if you need some tips.
While taking a good care of your body, benefits of traveling are more likely to have a tremendous impact on your mental and physical well-being. Instead of sitting the whole day in front of the computer, you walk a lot on the trips, and your body is constantly active. The best time is when you are around nature and you can truly relax and feel connected. The options of outdoor activities are unlimited and doing sport is just perfect for your body. From cutting down on stress, getting fresh oxygen for your brain, to lowering your chances of developing a heart disease – the health benefits of traveling are massive.
Traveling helps with stress relief
We often choose to travel when we are overwhelmed with work or any type of problems. Taking a break from routine, we leave the problems back home letting our brain to rejuvenate. Of course, the problems will be still there when we come back. However, we will have time to reflect, give it a while and come back with fresh energy and motivation for solving the issues. That’s the great power and benefit of traveling – vacations for our mind and soul.
Getting some ‘you’ time is often lost in our usual day-to-day existence. Travel helps revive that space. Having a moment to take advantage of peace and to simply ‘be’, allows us to let go of stress and tension and just enjoy the moment.
Take it easy! In between all the beautiful destinations you visit, try to find time for yourself and for beloved ones. Focusing on getting instagram-worthy photos will neither bring rest nor other benefits of traveling that it has on our well-being. Try to reserve some time to detox from technology and simply allow yourself to stay present.
Traveling consciously taught me to observe. Seeing my own behaviors and understanding them, helped me to work on the feathers that annoy me and kept a will to work on my character. I got interested in mindfulness and meditation technics. It was in Thailand, where I met people that inspired me to join the meditation retreat in a Buddhist monastery and this experience was truly enriching and life changing.
Additionally, we have so many opportunities to make our trip specifically focused on relax such as wellness & SPA, meditation retreats, yoga, healthy lifestyle or detox. Depending of your preference, you can choose to escape to a bookworm cabin in the woods or cottage in the mountains and forget about all the worries.
Traveling decreases depression risk
As said before, traveling makes us happy. We collect good moments and positive energy that will give us power later, when we will be down. People often decide to travel when they feel depressed as they know, that travel will help them see new perspective. All the adventures and new situations we have, make us forget out the problem for a while and later on to feel more optimistic about it. If you find yourself more in tension than normal, all it takes is a break to help you get your emotions back in order.
When I had an accident and broke my elbow, I was stuck with physiotherapy and pain for a long time. I was dreaming about being free and traveling. That thought kept me working on my goals and be patient. I started to practise yoga to keep my body active and relief from stress and tension. That was my way to escape negative thinking and give myself space to relax. I went for a few months journey in Asia that was healing my body and soul from pain. While backpacking and experiencing Asia with all my senses, I was thinking much less about my problem and seeing how beautiful this world is made me more motivated to exercise my elbow.
Conscious travel enriches your life
When we live our daily routine we buy lots of things that make us happy. However, material purchases are never fulfilling. Traveling consciously creates meaningful memories. It’s not only about photos but experiences to remember, friendships and skills you bring back home. A journey and people you meet may inspire you to learn new profession and totally change your life path. This happened to lots of backpackers I met on my way. Some decided to become teachers in China or Cambodia, some started their own business and made a hostel in Indonesia, some became travel agents. I think that opportunities are pretty much endless here, and it all depends on who you meet on your way and how open you are for developing new ideas. Traveling proves that dreams come true, you just need to help them a bit.
Here, I want to talk about volunteering which is a great opportunity to enrich your life with amazing experiences and satisfaction of helping someone or doing something good for the planet. There are plenty of options to find volunteer program in animals rescue centres or organic farms or you can simply commit a random act of kindness and clean the beach.
Traveling improves your character
A journey to a new place forces you to face the unknown situation and think in a different way. Everyone knows that it ain’t easy to go out of the comfort zone. Although this is how you keep learning new skills and change your weaknesses into strenghts.
It’s been many times someone told me, that I am brave traveling alone to remote destinations. If you read the beginning of this post, you know that I was rather a shy person before. Every trip was a lesson and crossing my own boundaries. After years of traveling I can say that I am a different person, more conscious and more self-confident. Besides, with my traveling experience I have a lot of stories to tell and people see me as more interesting person than before – when I was closed in my own world.
Final thoughts on conscious traveling benefits
One of my favorite travel quotes says: “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” From my ten years experience I can surely say that travel was a priceless lesson. It was an investment in education I would never regret committing. I started to travel consciously in order to collect memories, not things, limit my carbon footprint, learn and improve. Without being conscious of what you are experiencing it’s hard to notice all the traveling benefits. When you slow down and look closer, you will understand that traveling is a powerful tool to make a difference and improve your well-being. I am leaving you with this read on how to travel consciously and hope to inspire you for traveling wiser, better for our planet and us.
Why do you travel? What are the greatest benefits of traveling for you?
The Bee is a nature lover and tea addict. Loves the idea of slow life and responsible traveling, constantly trying to improve to bee more eco-friendly. Appreciates old cultures and traditions, loves to immerse with locals, listen to ethnic music as well as taste regional food and drinks. Her favorite spots while traveling are family houses and street markets.