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10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Travel & Adventure

Travel and adventure can be the perfect combination of medicine when it comes to mental health. Many of us feel a desire to travel…an impulse to be adventurous.  Neglecting these things can have us lacking some life changing feelings. Traveling allows us to fully live our lives, to expand our horizons, to conquer our fears, to establish our independence, and so much more. When it comes to understanding our inner psychology, this topic may not be the first thing you think of. However, it is possibly the easiest connection to make! It may be the connection that allows  you to live your life to its fullest.  

The desire for travel and adventure is deep rooted.

Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that we experience each day. The rhythm is a daily cycle that responds to the physical light and darkness in our lives. To simplify, the amount of natural light and the amount of sleep we receive on a daily basis greatly affects our mental health and happiness.  When we feel a desire to travel and experience adventure, there is a reason. As primal humans, we may feel a physical desire to move our bodies and keep our brains active. We may feel an actual desire to explore and adventure. We need sunlight and warmth on our skin. We need to have new experiences. This is a part of our natural chemical makeup. It is satisfying…we are meant to explore. If we deprive ourselves of these experiences, our mental health may be affected.  

Disrupting our routines is good for our brains.

 Having routines is good for our brains. Routines help us with many things – from accomplishing our goals, to sleep schedules, to eating well. We create routines for a reason. However, we need to disrupt our routines sometimes. When we disrupt our ourselves, we are helping our brains. When we break a cycle that we have become way too comfortable with, we are living. Traveling and adventuring improves our cognition and allows us to reactivate our mental reward system. It also forces us to leave our comfort zones which can help with anxiety disorders and so much more! 

Traveling and adventuring helps us grow.

 When we travel and adventure, we are opening our minds. When we leave home, we learn about the world. This means new experiences and a look at cultures that are not our own. Exploring different worlds helps us grow tremendously. We are able to meet new people, try new foods, see different architecture, physically push ourselves in the outdoors…the list could go on and on! Traveling and adventuring also helps us grow by showing us different ways that people live. Regardless of if they choose that way of life or not. For example, poverty stricken countries. When we physically experience these lifestyles, we gain empathy and understanding. There is so much growth to find when we travel and adventure.  

The ways we travel and adventure are based on personality. 

Where we choose to travel and how we get there may be based on our personalities. The adventures that we take once we are there may also depend on our personalities. For example, a 22-year-old who just graduated with a Liberal Arts degree may not choose the same travel destination as the 65 year old man who loves to golf in his free time. The student may choose two weeks in Bali with nothing but their best friend and a backpack. They may be sleeping in yurts, learning to surf, and eating foreign foods. The 65 year old may have booked a trick to Palm Springs with their lifetime partner, a few suitcases with a variety of clothing, and an itinerary filled with the best restaurants and golf clubs. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of these trips, it is easy to understand that our adventures are based on who we are.  

Age can go both ways.

 Age can put us at different places on a psychological level. In regards to traveling, this can go either way! As we said before, this can change the types of traveling and adventuring that people do…but it can also change whether they even do it at all! As we age, sometimes traveling and adventuring can feel less desirable. Elderly people may not feel safe far away from home, their family, their doctors, etc. They also may not be able to go on as many adventures when they get to their destinations.  But on the other side of this…retirement! When people retire, they have a newfound freedom they haven’t experienced since childhood. Maybe they are finally in the right mental state to start traveling and adventuring!   

Adventure and adrenaline go hand in hand. 

 Adrenaline is a natural hormone in our brains. It is produced by the adrenal glands and neurons that exist in the lower part of the brainstem. When adrenaline is produced, our heart rate increases, our blood pressure increases, the air passages in our lungs are expanded, the pupils in our eyes enlarge, and blood is redistributed to our muscles. Do you recognize this feeling? This feeling makes us feel alive. It makes us happy, it energizes us, and it satisfies us. We seek it out! You have probably felt it while adventuring!  

Traveling alone is a whole other prescription.

 There is an impressive amount of mental growth that can take place when traveling. When traveling alone, the opportunity for even more growth is exponential. Psychologically speaking, traveling and adventuring alone allows us to have experiences that we may never find if we were with a friend, a partner, or a group. When traveling alone someone may be able to establish personal independence. They may learn to trust themselves more, follow their gut in tricky situations, learn to enjoy their alone time, understand that it doesn’t take much to enjoy a place, and so much more.  

Traveling can inspire artistic qualities. 

 Ask any of the great artists and writers…travel and adventure are the perfect medicine. How many novels were written after exploring the great wide open? How many albums were finished after a writing trip to Bali? How many of your photography based coffee table books are scenes from traveling and nature? Traveling and adventuring can be inspiring. Whether you are already an artist or you have found a new hobby…traveling can bring out the creative side within all of us.  

The are many forms of travel and levels of comfort.

 While the idea of traveling sounds so luxurious and adventurous, it can also be strenuous and tiring. Getting to your destination is a part of the plan, too. Can’t forget that part. Ever had jet lag?  For some people, especially those not in the best health or those with children, obstacles like this could keep them from traveling at all. That psychological link is valid but there are also some tips that can help ease that mental state. For example, knowing yourself and what you need. Hate airplanes? Maybe plan a road trip. Can’t sleep in a tent? Maybe book a hotel! It also may be important for you to have things to pass your time while traveling to your destination. For example, books, music to listen to, coloring books, snacks and water, the proper medicine, etc.  

Traveling can make you appreciate things in a new way.

When the things we are so accustomed to are stripped from us, we appreciate them more. Traveling takes us out of our homes. It takes us out of our comfort zones. It strips away the things we are used to having every day. For example, our own bed, a shower any time of day, the security and safety of our own space, food that we are used to preparing or buying, wifi and power, an outlet that fits your cables, the correct type of money….the list could go on and on! While all of these differences are just a part of the adventure, they may make us appreciate what we are so used to in a new way.   Related Articles: