Most of us probably don’t travel for our health — but generally speaking, it’s a very good perk, especially for baby boomers.
Studies have shown that leisure travel can be good medicine.
There’s straight-up wellness travel, of course, such as visiting a health spa to lose weight.
But travel in and of itself can also do the job.
- Travel helps reduce stress and promote relaxation by taking a break from routine.
- Travel usually results in greater physical activity, particularly walking. But you might also learn tai chi in China, practice yoga in India, or bicycle around Europe.
- Travel promotes brain health by challenging us with new and different experiences and environments. It can potentially help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Travel can also help ward off depression by getting us out and about, active, and enjoying new people and places.
- Both women and men who take frequent vacations away from home have a lower risk of heart attacks.
- In one survey, 80 percent of baby boomers said they believe travel improves their general mood and outlook on life.
- American travelers have found that combining a vacation with medical treatment abroad (“Medical Tourism“) may save enough money to afford both, with some cash left over.
- Traveling with loved ones can deepen bonds with them — an important factor in good health, especially as we age.
- Travel broadens our exposure to new foods — often healthier than those found in the typical American diet
- Remember, wellness is a necessity — not an indulgence.
Are there exceptions? Of course.
You might get hurt or sick while traveling. The long airline flight or traffic jam on a road trip might have stressed you out. Maybe that resort you booked wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in the brochures. Maybe weather ruined your river cruise.
The truth is that no trip is without some difficulty or disappointment — but that only reinforces the challenges that travel can present in promoting brain health (see above). If you can successfully navigate through foreign or at least different environments, you can stay sharp and ready to deal with difficult situations that arise at home.
And like most travelers, you’ll soon find yourself plotting your next trip.
Up Next in Our Baby Boomer Travel Guide: Theme Travel