VANCOUVER, Wash. — It’s no secret that isolation is wearing on everyone’s nerves during the coronavirus pandemic. However, as quarantines end and a COVID-19 vaccine becomes common, the next step will be repairing the mental heath damage the virus has caused. A new study finds the best way to put a smile back on millions of faces is to get out and travel. Researchers say there is a noticeable increase in happiness and well-being among frequent travelers compared to those who don’t take any kind of long-distance vacation.
In a survey of 500 people, study author Chun-Chu “Bamboo” Chen from Washington State University examined the impact of traveling on long-term emotional wellness. The results reveal people who regularly take trips of at least 75 miles from their home are about seven percent happier than respondents who rarely travel.
“While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction,” Chen says in a university release. “It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things.”
Travel on the mind? More you talk about it, more likely you’ll do it
The survey also discovered just talking about a possible vacation can will it into existence. Respondents who pay more attention to information on tourism and frequently discuss new destinations with their friends are more likely to take regular trips abroad.
Chen says previous studies on travel usually examine the benefits of one single vacation. The new report looks at how making travel a part of your routine can improve stress relief and health over a full year.
Study authors asked the group about the level of importance travel has in their lives. Respondents also revealed how long they spend planning their trips and how many times they usually get away prior to the pandemic. Over half of the group reported traveling at least four times a year before COVID. Just seven percent said they don’t take any vacations.
“This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them,” the assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management adds. “If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation.”
Reviving the travel industry after COVID
Chen also believes the study provides a new sales pitch for the tourism industry as coronavirus restrictions are lifted. He says everyone from travel companies, to resorts and hotels, to the airline industry could launch online campaigns which note the healthy benefits of travel.
Doing so may help to rescue countless businesses and workers effectively shut down and out of work throughout 2020.
The study appears in the journal Tourism Analysis.