The newest data reveals exactly what activities you do when you travel have the biggest and best impact on your mental wellbeing.
Let’s talk first about the importance of booking that escape – no matter what you plan on doing. You know you need to get away. But if you haven’t traveled on holiday in a while, take note: new research reinforces studies that have shown how important traveling on vacation is for our wellbeing.
The new study by a British travel company surveyed people in the U.K., U.S., and several western and northern European countries.
Are you surprised that two-thirds of people report that taking a holiday has a ‘very positive’ impact on their mental wellbeing? When you add in those who say taking a vacation has a ‘quite positive’ effect on them, that total goes all the way up to 92%.
That’s for the whole group of all the countries surveyed. If you just look at the U.S., it’s a little lower – but a whopping 81% of Americans still say going on holiday makes them feel better about life.
There’s a generational gap, too. You might think that older people are more stressed and more in need of a vacation. But more younger people than their elders are actually reporting the highest level of the importance of holidays on their mental health. In the U.S., the highest reported percentage of those who say vacation travel is ‘very positive’ on their wellbeing are the youngest adults. 61% of Americans 18-24 - almost as high as the overall percentage that includes Brits and Europeans – report placing the highest level of importance of travel on their mental wellbeing.
Walking the Walk
But how you spend your vacation makes a difference to its effect on your mental wellness, too. And it turns out, there’s no ‘right’ answer – or at least, it might matter where you’re from. Overall, when asked what travel activities most supported their mental wellbeing, the answer wasn’t about expensive meals, theme parks, or shopping.
The overwhelming majority – nearly half of people globally - say that literally ‘relaxing and doing nothing’ is the most beneficial of all vacation activities. Over one-third say it’s ‘sightseeing’ and in third place comes reading. But people in different countries also seem to have their own ideas about the most mentally uplifting holidays. It seems Americans find more social and adventurous activities a bigger boost for their mental wellbeing. For those respondents, relaxing and doing nothing still topped the list, but for only a quarter of the people questioned, rather than the global average of nearly half. Sightseeing is still the number two most mentally supportive travel activity for Americans but for only about 20% - not the one-third global average. Here’s where there’s a twist: for Americans, the third best travel activity for mental wellbeing is cited as ‘meeting new people.’ That’s double the percentage of people from other countries who were surveyed. Regionally, doing yoga or meditation trumps meeting new people as the third-best travel activity for mental wellbeing for residents of the Northeast.
As our expert travel advisors suggest: “Wellness retreats can help you recharge both physically and mentally. Opt for a retreat in destinations like Tuscany, Italy, for its yoga and mindfulness programs, or Thailand for its renowned spa and detox centers. Also sampling local cuisine can be a delightful way to connect with a destination. Consider destinations like Bangkok, Thailand, for its street food culture or Lyon, France, for its gourmet dining scene.”
But perhaps it’s no surprise that globally, the younger you are, the more mental benefits you perceive from adventurous activities, with one-quarter of those 18-24 citing those activities, compared to just 14% of those twice their age. Maybe on your next vacation, you could try a new approach that will help you return from your well-earned holiday feeling your mental best.
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