Chilling at the Hawaii beaches, skiing the Alps or hiking the trails of Peru, everyone needs to blow their steam off somehow. From my own experience, traveling is a super excellent way of calming my mind and to restock for the everyday grind. In this article, I share my own experiences on how often should you travel, and take a look at some studies on how traveling affects your health and mental clearness.
How Often Should You Travel?
First of all, you should be traveling at least once per year as a complete minimum. If you don’t use your vacation days to blow off some steam, you could risk getting burned out.
Not only that, a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine suggested that you may also shorten your life expectancy. According to this nine-year-old study, traveling less than once per year may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, which in return shortens your average lifespan. Take care of your mental health, and you’ll live longer.
Now that’s the minimum, but what’s the recommended amount that you should spend on a vacation?
Ideally, you should take at least two longer trips per year, in addition to a few other smaller trips. The total amount that you should spend on vacation is 30-45 days per year. I know getting one month off per year can seem hard for some, but that’s what you got to do to stay healthy, live happier and longer.
But how should you space out these 30-45 days? Take at least two longer trips of 7-14 days and fill in some three to four-day trips across the year. Also, make sure to book your vacations mostly in Autumn and Winter, to escape the cold and depressing routine.
Here’s How Frequently I Travel
Personally, I would like to travel much more than I currently am. During 2017, I’ve been abroad for about sixty days. The year before that – Only about a week, because I was working on a new company (That eventually failed).
When comparing the last two years, 2016 was a very stressful time for me. I account for most of it due to burning out. In contrast, I’m pleased that I’ve improved the time spent abroad during 2017 because now I feel much happier and relaxed. P.S. I’m not the only one, most of you will feel much happier if you take some time off!
When I was trying to think of any happy moments in my life, I came to the conclusion that almost all of them were while traveling. That’s why I plan on finishing off 2018 with at least three months abroad. A goal of mine is to spend at least half a year abroad in the near future.
As I’m traveling more and more, I’m in a need of a carry-on that I can depend on. I’ve researched many brands and concluded that Travelpro has the highest durability by miles. I’ve completely fallen in love with it, and I highly recommend it!
How Long Should You Travel For
According to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, your vacations should be at least 8-14 days long, with the ideal length being eight days.
The study looked at many respondent’s experiences while on their vacations. The results were nothing short of interesting.
In the first four days, the health and well being improved dramatically. The health and well being peaked at the 8th day, and after that stalled. When the vacation ended, it returned to normal within the first week. What’s the takeaway? To get the most out of your vacation, travel for at least eight days.
From my personal experience, I’ve felt best on really long three-week trips. On trips that take this long, you really get to experience everything that you want to see and immerse yourself in their culture fully. Even two weeks feel a little short-handed for me.
Why Is Traveling Good for Your Health
There are many things that are good for you, like eating healthy, sleeping and exercising. But when it comes to taking care of yourself, most of you only think of taking care of your body, not your mind.
I’ve found that traveling is the best way to lower stress and improve overall happiness. By the way, I’m not the only one; many studies have actually proven this!
Here are some of the benefits that you get from traveling:
- Creativity. Some studies have seen a link between creativity and traveling. This comes from experiencing different cultures and traditions, which in return trains your ability to adapt to new and unfamiliar situations.
- Stress relief. Traveling is basically mindfulness on steroids. Meditation teaches you to forget all about the past and future and experience only the current moment. Have you ever noticed that on your longer trips, after the first day or two you start to feel much more relaxed? That’s the time that it usually takes to forget about your everyday troubles and focus on the current experiences.
- Improved heart health. Let’s be real here, on average you’re probably not exercising that much. While traveling, you often walk for miles, climb steep mountains and push through crowded tourist masses, which is excellent for your heart. Not only that, the Framingham Heart Study concluded that women who take vacations once every six years or less are eight times more likely to develop heart disease compared to those who travel twice per year.
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How to Travel More Often
During the last year, I’ve been abroad for about two months. In the future, I plan on traveling at least six months per year. How have I managed to achieve this? By leaving my position in banking and gradually moving to something that allows working remotely, like blogging.
But not all of you have to change your careers to travel more often. It’s possible to travel one to two months per year if you’re smart about your decisions.
Here’s how you do it:
- Cheap destinations. When looking for your destination, look for less developed countries that are cheap to stay in.
- Book your vacation early. Like, half a year early. Be on the lookout for cheap deals and flash sales. You can easily save at least half the cost of your flight and reservations by booking early.
- Travel in the off-season. Not only will the reservations be cheaper, but sometimes your airline tickets, costs of living and entrance fees will as well.
- Live minimalistic. I’ve managed to save around forty percent of my everyday costs by avoiding to buy unneeded stuff. Also, I use public transport over cars, to save some money on transportation costs. Actually, by using public transport alone, you could save up for one additional vacation per year!
- Squeeze-in some weekend trips. If a national holiday falls on Friday or Monday, man am I happy that I’ll get to go on a three-day trip. All, while not missing any work.
- Consider changing your career. Before I was working in a bank. Not only was this job really stressful, but I also didn’t get many vacation days, and there weren’t any options for working remotely. So I chose a different career, and you could as well. Look for a job that allows you to work from home on some days or one that involves lots of business trips.
How to Travel with a Full-Time Job
Yes, most of us work full time in positions that make frequent traveling look like climbing the Mount Everest. Although, with a few small tricks here and there, you can make it work.
Only a few months ago I was still working in a bank from nine to five. The job was very stressful, and I wanted to travel real bad. So during the last few months of working there, I actually managed to be abroad pretty often.
Here’s how I did it:
- Make use of weekend trips. Nowadays, you can fly to a nearby country in just a few hours. If you book early, you can do it pretty cheaply as well. Look at your surrounding countries or states, then go to Pinterest or Google and look for some places to see there. Take the Friday or Monday off and enjoy your three to four-day-trip.
- Don’t sacrifice your paid holidays. Be careful of how you’re spending your vacation. Don’t spend it on your coach, weddings or dinners with relatives. If you’re really passionate about your traveling, you’ll use them being abroad.
- Talk with HR about unpaid leave. Be honest and talk to the HR department. Say that you’re getting burned out and you feel that a longer unpaid leave would get you pumped up for further work. I actually managed to get two weeks off this way by talking to my manager.
- Chase opportunities for business trips. Are there any other positions that require more business traveling? You could talk to HR about trying out participating in some of the business trips, as this would widen your experience and help you become a better employee.
Read Next: 30 Things to Do Before Traveling Abroad
Jobs that require traveling
If you’re serious about traveling, switching your career to something that requires lots of traveling could be an excellent choice. Personally, I just opted out to start blogging and hopefully in future earn enough to support my travels. However, switching to a job where you get paid for traveling is a hundred times smarter decision.
Here are some jobs that require traveling:
- Travel nurse. Nurses are in high demand across the world, especially in third world countries. If you become one, you will always have opportunities to travel to different places and get to see different cultures. Not only you get to travel; you’ll make an impact as well.
- Flight attendant. The good thing about being a flight attendant is that you don’t need a degree. You just need to be good at communicating and customer service. If you choose this path, you will get to travel the world for free. (And possibly get discounted airline tickets for traveling to different destinations)
- B2B sales representative. Do you have any experience in sales? Polish your sales skills and apply for a job as a sales representative. Just make sure to look at a position that sells products to other businesses and mostly does exporting or importing. That way you get to travel to many different countries for free.
- Travel writer. If your passion is writing, chances are you could become an excellent travel writer! Many news and media companies have these positions. Your job would be to travel to various countries, eat in restaurants, and visit beautiful destinations. What’s even better: You get paid for doing that!
- Cruise line employee. Do you get seasick? If yes, skip this one. However, for those who don’t: In addition to traveling the world, these jobs pay extremely well!
Read Next: 75 Packing Tips For International Travel
How Often Can You Travel with a Green Card
If you’re a green card holder, traveling less than ninety days per year should not raise any questions, and everything should be fine.
Technically, the law does not limit any specific number of times that you can travel per year. However, you shouldn’t be on your trips for more than six months at a time. Otherwise, the GCB may conclude that you’ve abandoned your US residency. This would result in your green card revoked and deportation.
Although many shorter flights are acceptable, this will raise more questions upon returning to the USA. If you have a valid reason, that’s ok. However, you should try to limit the times you’re leaving and returning to the USA.
I would love to hear how often you’re traveling. I’m sure others would love to hear that as well, so please do share your experiences down in the comments!