Travel can be fun, joyful, adventurous, exciting, relaxing, challenging, difficult, humbling, mind-altering and overwhelming.
How travel makes you happy is be different for everyone and although it’s exciting and fun to do in practice, travel itself isn’t a quick fix for gaining happiness.
So does travel make you happy?
This post is one of my many travel musings and this topic is one that I notice stumbles its way into my thoughts, quite often.
And if you are reading this, then you are probably also wondering if travel can make you happy.
You might ask yourself, “Can I get a huge dose of bliss and travel happiness, from becoming nomadic? Or can I live wild and free, and travel the world indefinitely?”.
I don’t think there is any solid ‘yes or no’ answer to this question. It’s dependent on you, your perception of travel, your state of mind, and your adaptability to the situations you end up in when travelling.
Is There Any Evidence That Travel Does Make You Happy?
According to this article from Washington State University about how frequent travel makes you happier, people who engage in tourism-related information and discuss their travel plans with friends, are more likely to take regular vacations.
These people also reported feeling 7% happier in their overall well-being, than those who weren’t frequent travellers.
In this Forbes article that discusses how travel and exploration spark happiness, researchers found that people had more positive emotions when they visited a variety of different destinations during the day.
Research showed there was a strong association between positive emotions and diverse experiences. So real-world exposure to fresh and new travel experiences can lead to us feeling more positive emotions like happiness.
Does Travel Make You Happy?
The excitement, anticipation and planning of a new trip or a long period of travel, can simulate happiness.
However, it’s important to stay mindful that they are just short-lived emotions such as excitement and nervousness that you’re feeling. Emotions and feelings that will soon be replaced by other long-term ones.
Travel planning is one of my favourite parts of travel and my mind loves to rush forward into the near future and think about that amazing ‘travel happiness’ feeling when I arrive somewhere new.
When that happens, my mind can set expectations that are too high and I think that is often a mistake.
For example, one of the first parts of the world I spent a lot of time in, was Western Australia, which has some of the most stunning beaches and beautiful coastlines that go on for days.
So now, when I go somewhere new—because I’m a total Beach Connessieur —I’m always expecting stunning, white beaches everywhere I go.
And that is not always the case.
So this starts a thought process where I go check out a beach in a new location, and I catch myself feeling slightly disappointed that the beach isn’t as good as others I’ve seen. Then I feel guilty that I’m being ungrateful for the place I’m in and my privileged ability to be able to travel.
The cycle usually finishes with me reminding myself that I shouldn’t set any expectations, so then I can just be present and appreciate the place for what it is.
Travel also makes me happy when I overcome obstacles or solve a problem, using the skills I know I’ve developed because of my travel lifestyle.
These might be problems that I would have struggled to solve before I became nomadic.
I always remember to compliment myself when I’ve fixed a tough problem or got myself out of a tricky situation, this builds my confidence and helps me trust in my abilities more.
When Does Travel Make You Happy and When It Doesn’t
Despite all that, there are times when travel doesn’t make me happy.
Times when travelling often make me feel sad, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and lonely. Again these are all just emotions that come and go, depending on my circumstances.
- I become sad and empathetic when I travel to a new country and learn of their traumatic history, or of cultural differences or inequality that are encountered there. Issues that seems so far removed from my Westernised culture.
- I feel anxious when I’m lodging visas or long-term house-sitting, which involves me having to move around a lot.
- I get overwhelmed when I have moved to a new country or place and have to learn everything from scratch again.
- Or I can become frustrated when I have taken on too much freelance work or I can’t handle the additional work involved in growing my blog and my online side hustles.
- I sometimes feel depressed and lonely when I’m travelling long-term and I realise how disconnected I have become from people. I’m disconnected from people I love and miss back home in the UK, but also from the people around me.
Because living nomadically involves moving a lot and because I’m an introvert, I sometimes find it difficult to make new friends in every new place I go to.
And I can’t begin to explain how mentally exhausting it can be.
Does Travel Make You Happy? Looking at Both Sides of the Coin.
I sometimes wonder if travel happiness is just an endless pursuit. Those of us who choose to be nomadic long-term, will we always be searching for that one place that has it all?
Or maybe it isn’t a place at all, instead, it’s a state of mind.
I live for travel, and I even love the travel planning aspects of a trip that some people find stressful such as; flight searching, booking accommodations or navigating airports.
For me, some of the upsides of travel planning for a new destination are:
- I feel excited and bouncy when I decide to visit a new country, abundant with curiosity about every aspect of exploring a new place.
- When I’m doing travel planning for that trip, my brain becomes keen to soak up the new information, like a sponge and I become elated knowing I can explore a whole new little piece of this incredible planet.
- As the time for leaving draws closer, I become nervous with anticipation. I might experience a feeling of relief because I’ve been living somewhere for a long time and I’m itching to experience a new country.
But on the downside, I might also:
- Feel anxious if I am going back to a place, where I experienced tough times or a place that has negative memories attached.
- Experience a feeling of apprehension because I’m rapidly moving towards an unknown, new place with no idea what will await me.
- End up feeling disappointed if a place I’ve previously travelled to, has changed for the worse and my expectations were set too high.
Seeing a brand new country can also fill me full of joy, as I love to experience new places and I become open to absorbing the culture, food, nature, the people and history of that place.
So you see, it’s how you perceive it. Does travel make you happy?
Well, yes—it does if you go into every new trip or travel experience with excitement, openness and confidence.
And no it doesn’t if you go into every new travel experience with a narrow mind, complacency or negativity.
Final Thoughts on Travel Happiness
I try to be mindful, I try to live true to my values and design a life for myself that reflects those values. To me, that is happiness. Something I’ve designed, built up and created myself.
One of my values is freedom and it’s possibly my highest value. I make sure the life I design and build, reflects the freedom in as many areas as I can.
And travel is one of my passions that represents incredible freedom.
So in my life, I guess I could say travel does make me happy, in a way, because it aligns with my freedom values.
True happiness doesn’t come from people, things, or places. It comes from building a life that aligns with your values.
And being authentic, being you—no matter what the rest of the world or society wants you to be.
If travel is one of your passions, build it into your life.
If freedom to travel and move or live anywhere is one of your values, design your life around what’s important to you.
If you don’t value travel, luxury worldwide trips or travel bucket lists will never make you happy.
Travel isn’t a thing, it’s an adventure or an encounter with our spectacular world. So, if you take your life on that adventure, make sure it’s a life you are happy with.
Happiness comes from designing your life and living authentically to your own values.
Never live your life for someone else or by following society’s conventional life-model.
No one particular path is correct, your path is simply yours to create and to travel on.
That’s all from me on this one.
Travel Happy, My Friends
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