Travel and vacations are something that nearly everyone looks forward to. Think about how excited you feel when you book a vacation. Just the act of purchasing a plane ticket puts you in an elevated mood of anticipating travel. Then there is the trip itself. Taking time away from work to de-stress and enjoy time with your family or relax with your favorite hobby is important to your success both at work and at home. But did you know that the benefits of travel extend further than having fun and taking time away from day-to-day life? Here are some examples of how travel can improve the health, creativity and productivity of employees.
Vacations improve physical and mental health.
Sure, taking a long trip is a great way to recharge, but vacationing can do much more than help your employees relax. Traveling can positively affect their ability to be innovative and help them de-stress, which improves brain health, heart health and physical health. So much so that a poll conducted by the U.S. Travel Association discovered that travel, especially for retirees, prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which is pretty powerful!
Taking a trip improves mental health and outlook on life. The same study by the U.S. Travel Association also found that 86 percent of those who travel are more satisfied with their outlook on life than those who do not travel. It’s no surprise that those who get away from their work and homes often are typically less stressed and less anxious, but there is a range of additional health benefits to be gained from traveling. A vacation often spurs more physical activity, which can have many impacts on overall employee health. The Framingham Heart Study found that those who didn’t take a vacation for several years were more likely to suffer from heart attacks than those who traveled annually.
Travel helps expand the mind.
According to the Transformational Learning Theory, in order for people to have their paradigms shattered and expanded, they need to have what is called a “disorienting dilemma.” An article on HuffPost sums this up as an experience that challenges you to rethink your trajectory, goals and values. These experiences occur in environments that are far removed from your routines, beliefs, norms, roles and traditions. They are uncomfortable, anxiety provoking and truly disruptive.
Tourism researchers, Garrett Stone and Lauren Duffy, support this theory. They believe that travel is a very potent way to disorient your worldview. However, this can only occur if the travel is far from your normal routine. The further you go from your comfort zone, the more likely you are to experience a paradigm shift or mental breakthrough.
While this theory sounds a bit challenging to achieve, it makes a lot of sense. If your employees are not traveling abroad, experiencing new people, seeing new places and tasting new food, how can you expect them to create new things at home? It is important for them to break out of their bubble to learn and grow as a person.
More time away = more creative benefits.
New and exciting experiences inspire many people, but when you’re stuck in your daily routine, there may be days when the most exciting thing you experience is the drive to and from work. This limits the mind’s ability to expand and be truly inspired. Professor and author Adam Galinsky says, “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” This means that new sounds, signs and smells spark the creativity synapses in your brain.
Galinsky’s numerous studies on the connection between creativity and international travel have found that cognitive ability (the mind’s ability to jump between different ideas) is enhanced by experiencing new places and cultures. To achieve this enhanced creativity, however, the traveler must completely immerse themselves in the culture and environment wherever they are traveling. Galinsky even suggests that living abroad for an extended period is the best way to achieve enhanced creativity. For example, if you visit Mexico for a week and spend your days on a beach with a good book, eating the best first-class cuisine and sipping piña coladas, you may not return as inspired and creative. But if you take a monthlong sabbatical and live in Mexico with local craftsman, you may experience a spark in insight and creativity.
We all love to get away and enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Despite this, many let their earned vacation days go to waste and don’t travel due to commitments at home and work. This may be because travel seems like a luxury or an unnecessary, but nice-to-have perk. However, studies show that travel is truly important to overall employee health, performance at work and creative abilities. We won’t argue with that, so here at Ervin & Smith, we are always asking: Where to next?