Image: Simon_sees, Flickr

You know that saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’? Never has that felt more apt than the last couple of years - especially when thinking about travel (or the lack of it). Indeed, everyone loves going away - that’s hardly earth-shattering information - but if recent times have taught us anything, it’s to fully appreciate every single thing we have in our lives. So, why is travel just so important? Buckle up and get ready for take-off as we begin our ascent.

  1. It broadens your horizons

No matter where you go or what you’re doing there  - a beach vacation sipping margaritas or hiking through the Amazon - you will learn something (if not many things!) from the experience. Whether it’s knowledge gleaned from actual tour guides or just soaking up your surroundings, it’s not just an academic box you’re ticking but an enriching cultural ability to learn how to relate to different kinds of people - speaking a different language, eating different foods (and oh! The foods you’ll try!) and sharing different beliefs from you. Netflix can only share so much, after all (no matter how enjoyable Spanish-hit Money Heist is!). It’s likely, also, that you’ll be faced with challenging situations that force you to think outside the box - you may end up surprising yourself with what you never knew you could do. And who doesn’t love a bit of that?

2. It’s great for mental health

Unplugging from the 9-5 rat race is enough to help you de-stress a bit because - let’s face it - life is hard and that elusive work-life balance that some people speak of is harder to spot than a flying unicorn! Going away - even if you do nothing while there - means pressing pause on your normal routine and waving goodbye to commitments. There is simply no better way to unwind. The only thing on your to-do list is deciding whether it’s going to be a plane, boat or train that takes you far, far away from your dreaded alarm clock. Traveling just makes you happy, and what is life if not the pursuit of happiness? (Just ask Will Smith!)

In fact, the benefits begin long before the day your OOO kicks in: Thinking about and planning your trip - whether a two-week family vacation or a year-long trip around the world - can boost the pleasure receptors in your brain, meaning even just reading this article is doing wonders for your mental health (you’re welcome).

3. It’s great for physical health, too

A number of studies have demonstrated a link between travel and heart health - not only because it helps to reduce stress and anxiety but because the nature of it lends itself to increased physical movement. Not only do you get awesome experiences (and pictures!) out of walking, trekking, climbing, biking, swimming and rafting the globe, but your body will most certainly thank you for it, too! And that - our friends - is what we call a win-win.

4. It nourishes relationships - new and old

As well as forcing you to switch off from your daily distractions, traveling also enables you to spend more time with your loved ones - truly an unrivaled benefit. Sharing experiences and making new memories together will last you throughout the trip - and beyond. What’s more, it’s likely that you’ll make some new friends on your travels, too - people from diverse backgrounds, people who challenge you to think about things differently, people who introduce you to new things - not to mention your own relationship with yourself! Travel is the perfect antidote to a reliance on technology that may make us feel like we’re more connected than ever but - in reality - can actually enhance our isolation.

5. It pushes you to try new things

After all, it’s not just every day that you’ll decide to jump out of a plane in Australia, trek through the lush jungles of Costa Rica or raft down the Khao Sok River in Thailand (certainly beats sitting idly at your desk all day!). A side benefit is that all these out-of-the-comfort-zone experiences will give you more confidence, not to mention dinner party chat, too, which is always useful, hey?

6. It boosts productivity

You know that much-needed break from the daily grind we spoke of earlier? Well, there’s an added benefit to switching off from our daily routine in that - on our return - we’ll be refreshed and ready to dive back into our normal commitments, whatever they might be. And as for the added boost to our creativity, thanks to everything we’ve just soaked up? The sky is most truly the limit. As Columbia Business School professor, Adam Galinsky, has famously said, “foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.

7. You’ll see amazing places

Obvious but oh so important. The skyscrapers, the impossibly blue islands, the sensational picture-perfect landscapes … Wanderlust is real, and just imagine the Insta-shots you’ll get out of it (because did it even happen if it didn’t go on the grid?).

So … where will you go next?