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The Benefits of Travel – Health

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.

-Mark Twain

Unfortunately, the above quote too often applies to our lives as Americans. However, one of the benefits of traveling is that it is easier to stay healthy when all the things that make a person healthy are necessary in sojourning. When Justin and I were outlining this series, we were coming up with a few broad benefits of travel, and in the process, the health benefits came up. I had an interesting realization of actually how much good traveling can do for the body and mind. Traveling work wonders in terms of constant exercise, the stress reducing factors of escape, and a diet unlike that of any average day in the life of an American.

While some travelers’ idea of a vacation is floating around on trolleys, busses, and in taxis, me and Justin are going to spend more time walking than being transported here and there in a machine. In college, especially on a large campus, walking is often the main form of exercise among students, but for the occasional trip to the movies or the store, everyone hops into their gas powered slave. When I say we’re trekking around Europe, I mean once we arrive in a country by bus or train, we will spend the majority of our days walking around that country. Assuming we walk/stand and average of five hours every day, we would easily be burning somewhere around a thousand calories a day on walking alone, on top of which we will be wearing backpacks filled with weeks of clothing and travel stuff.

And as we all know, for the average adult, stress is part of the package. Sojourners will find that one of the most beautiful benefits of travel is the stress-free nature of it. Stress can lead to anxiety, moodiness, aches and pains, and all kinds of behavioral irregularities. However, I long for the day when I set foot on that wonderful, anti-stress land named Europe. Stress relief via travel can come in the form of a structured, scheduled day of enjoyment, as opposed to the structurless day to day life back home for some, while for others, the lack of a structured workday can be what does the trick. Now, to the Europeans, with jobs and the like, I wouldn’t doubt that stress is equally a part of daily life, but when Justin and I set aside a couple months to just chill in all kinds of different culture, our minds will, without doubt, be at peace.

In America, whether one in three children suffers from obesity or not, we can all agree that our eating habits are not necessarily the healthiest. Not only do we fry tons of stuff, but it seems food is constantly being shoved in our faces, be it on televised advertisements or in the form of plastic, delicately painted foods of all sorts photographed and plastered on billboards. In Europe, consuming different foods than we’re used to will be part of experiencing new culture. Plus, with all the walking around we’ll be doing, our appetites will be for healthier foods – not that the occasional authentic Swedish chocolate or German Wienerschnitzel  won’t tickle our fancy. All in all, we will just be leading way healthier lifestyles while sojourning in Europe… even if it is just for one summer of our lives.

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