What if I told you that the key to getting healthier is… taking a vacation? (Yes, really.) Believe it or not, using those extra vacation days might actually be good for you. In today’s overworked, overstressed society, traveling provides numerous physical, mental and emotional health benefits. This has led to a new form of travel called “active travel.”
Active travel is a form of vacationing which combines exercise with travel. Active travel is growing in popularity, partially because trips can also be fully customized to the traveler’s the definition of what it means to be “active.”
There are several health benefits to enjoying an activity-focused vacation, such as a cycling tour in a new place. Research shows that regular vacations reduce your risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Additionally, there has been some “suggestive evidence” that active travel might help prevent diabetes. These same researchers have even called for further studies to determine whether active travel could help fight obesity, too.
Your mental health and emotional well-being will get a boost from the reduced stress, as well as the release of endorphins. This reduces anxiety, improves self-esteem, and prevents depression. These benefits are not limited to your vacation days; they actually start before you depart (during the trip planning phase) and may last for months afterward, including after you’ve returned home.
With so many positive aspects, it’s no wonder why active and adventure travel seems to be growing in popularity. From cycling in France to hiking in Hawaii, this new form of travel is a natural fit for bold, energetic people who crave exhilarating, hands-on experiences in new places.
Travelers seem to agree. Active travel has consistently been one of the two most popular travel trends for the past few years. Equally impressive: active travelers are a diverse group of men and women from all ages and backgrounds. While 90% of millennials admit to exercising during vacations, nearly half of adventure travelers are age 50 or older.
If you’re convinced you want to use up your remaining vacation days by booking an active vacation, here’s how to make the most of your time off:
- Not all active vacations are equal. From extreme fitness camps to swimming with sharks, there is a lot of variety in the active vacation industry. Do some research and read reviews before booking your trip. If planning all the logistics by yourself is too overwhelming, consider booking a group vacation or tour through a professional travel agency.
- Consider your nutrition. If, for instance, you’re out on a long bike ride and you run out of water or food, what will you do? Are there places along your route where you could stop, if needed? Or will you need to pack extras with you? You’ll also want to consider the types of foods that are readily available in the area. How will you balance your carbohydrates, proteins, and fats? Are there any local foods you should avoid?
- Consider your destination. Not all destinations can accommodate all activities. If you’re a biker, you’ll want to choose a destination that can is well suited for your favorite activity. Does your destination have lots of busy roads? Are the roads steep and/or narrow? Does it offer safe trails that are friendly for walking and biking? Are there lots of cliffs or potholes? These are just a few questions to consider.
- Plan a worry-free vacation. Having all loose ends taken care of back home before you leave will help you enjoy your travels with a clear mind. If you’re a pet owner, consider hiring a pet sitter for your dog while you are away. Make sure all security alarms are set and electronics are unplugged, especially if you’ll be gone for an extended period of time. If possible, you might even consider hiring a trustworthy house sitter to come check on things while you’re gone.
If you’re looking to build endurance and boost your health while enjoying a vacation, active travel might be a good option for you. As you can see, there are countless ways to customize a trip that will improve your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. Perhaps travel really is the best medicine after all.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay by Taliesi. Guest post by Henry Moore at fitwelltraveler.com. If you are looking for an active vacation, check out some of the camps we have coming up at Source Endurance here.