We all know that vacation lowers stress. After all, ditching your laptop for a beachside massage leaves little to worry about. But did you know that traveling can actually help you succeed in every facet of your life?
Just ask real estate mogul and entrepreneur David Osborn, author of “Wealth Can’t Wait,” who credits his years abroad for helping him create a life full of happiness and wealth. “I hitchhiked around the world for two years in my 20’s and on 20 bucks a day,” he shared in a recent Bulletproof Radio (iTunes) podcast episode.
Often seen as luxury, regular travel, says Osborn, can give you the tools and perspective you need to live an accomplished life. “Travel — especially when you’re young. Take the risk and become the person you were meant to be. It doesn’t matter if you have money or not, you’re going to have a pretty fulfilling dang life.”
Here, the surprising ways travel helps set you up for personal success and happiness.
Gets you out of your comfort zone
While sitting poolside at a resort for a week might be relaxing, Osborn implores people to get out of their comfort zones.
Strike out on the road less traveled: hike in a jungle to work through your phobia of spiders, bungee jump from a bridge to challenge your fear of heights, or head out for a night of tango-dancing to confront your terror of performing in public.
“Every person that is struggling in any way should throw themselves out of their comfort zone at least once a year.,” says Osborn. “Do a bucket list adventure so you can challenge yourself. You’ll find more [internal] resources as you get comfortable with being challenged. [And you’ll find that] challenge actually gets easier.”
That’s because getting out of your comfort zone teaches you to handle stress better, and in time, you’ll take risks in all aspects of your life.
Typically, risks are hard for people to take because humans are wired to expect the worst. However, if you take a calculated risk — which is what happens when you consciously decide to do something new while traveling — you weigh the pros and cons, then eventually decide to go for it.
This decision empowers you to face both positive and negative consequences as lifelong learning lessons. A surprising positive outcome provokes you to take another risk, while a negative outcome encourages you to learn something from it. Either way – it’s a win-win.
Practicing gratitude, like journaling ten things you are grateful for each day, rewires your brain to seek out the positive in life. Studies show that a gratitude-writing practice helps your brain default to positive thoughts rather than negative ones. When you’re thinking more positively, you’ll naturally feel more fulfilled. Your positive successes will mount as you focus more on those good outcomes rather than negative deterrents that pull you off course.
Gratitude and travel go hand-in-hand. “Seeing people who literally have a dollar a day if they’re lucky and are happier than me, I [realized] I’m kind of an asshole. It just changes everything,” Dave told Osborn. “I kicked myself for not traveling when I was younger because it would have made me a better human being.”
Helps you develop a flexible personality
Flexibility is your ability to adapt to diverse scenarios. It’s critical to business success — and success in general — because your environment is not necessarily within your control. Bosses have their own agendas, companies have unique politics, and the only aspect you can control is how you adapt and react.
Regularly putting yourself in unique and unfamiliar settings teaches you how to be resilient — the ability to absorb disruptions and change gears while undergoing change.
Immerse yourself in diverse travel scenarios to learn how to adapt better. Go learn a new language abroad or attend a yoga retreat in a foreign land. Studies reveal traveling encourages you to open yourself to new ideas and ways of doing things – so you become more adaptable as a result.
Novelty kindles creativity
Travel fosters creativity, says science. One study tested the creative insights of travelers and findings revealed that travel prompted improvements in creative thinking as well as creative productivity.
What this means for you is that if you want to ignite your own creative spark, get out into the world and explore something new. The external stimuli challenge your brain to come up with new ideas, solutions, and creations. Another study found fashion designers came up with more innovative designs while living abroad.
Strengthens personal connections
Evidence suggests that travel helps people to form closer, more communicative bonds with traveling companions as well as locals. The same findings reveal that couples who travel together report higher levels of satisfaction within their relationships. When families embark on trips together, the journey creates intimate connections between family members. Traveling leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction due to the bonds formed along the way.
Improves your ability to work
Vacation time enables recuperation (aka, recovery from life’s daily stresses), which boosts overall happiness and well-being.
The downtime of travel gives you the opportunity to catch your breath and put life into perspective. It may even inspire you to come up with your next big idea. According to productivity expert and Harvard psychiatrist Srini Pillay, PhD, unfocusing your brain yields greater happiness and success. It gives you more time to daydream and look at the big picture, which opens you up to new business possibilities and adventures.