Why We Need to Travel

An Homage to National Travel & Tourism Week

Destination and Tourism
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Lauren Wilson

by Lauren Wilson

Americans must be generous: in 2017, the average employee donated almost $600 in “free” work to their employer by not taking some or all of their vacation time.  Over 52% of Americans leave unused vacation time on the table – totaling more than 705 million unused days annually.  While there are some encouraging numbers that show a slight uptick in travel both domestically and internationally , it’s clear we have some work to do to get people to explore the world beyond work.

The benefits of travel are well documented, but it’s always surprising how vast and wide ranging they are. A steroid shot for mental health, travel serves to decrease stress levels, promote creativity, and elevate emotional stability.  People who plan a trip report being happier, even if they never take the trip, than those who never plan at all. And it’s no wonder – there’s a large world out there that we’ve been encouraged to explore—so even the act of virtual exploration begins to activate our dopamine. Actually taking the vacation and changing our physical location lets us see things from a new perspective mentally and return to “normal” life refreshed. 

Travel also facilitates new human connections, both with travel companions such as family or friends, and through meeting new people in a new destination. According to 2015 research conducted by the Family Holiday Association, 49% of respondents said their happiest memory was from a family vacation.  And for those individuals who choose to immerse themselves in a foreign culture, “the ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your own social comfort zone, helps to build a strong and acculturated sense of your self.”  With rising trends of pet-friendly and solo travel, people continue to seek out different ways to emotionally connect.

Most impressive are the physical advantages of travel. Vacations can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in both men and women.  It can also boost your immunity, contribute to weight loss, improve respiratory and digestive problems, and even make you feel younger! 

Taking vacation can also make you more satisfied and successful in the workplace. “People who travel with all or most of their time are 28% happier with their companies and 24% happier with their jobs than those that travel with little to none of their vacation days. Frequent travelers are also 18% more likely to report receiving a promotion in the last two years.” 

As a key driver of the US economy, travel is the seventh-largest employer of all industries in the US, supporting more than 15.7 million American jobs. It generates a total of $2.5 trillion in economic output and $171 billion in tax revenue. Without the tax revenue generated by travel and tourism, each household in the US would have to pay $1,340 more in taxes.  Now imagine if we just used some of those unused vacation days for travel – it would drive creation of more jobs and more tax revenue, not to mention a happier and healthier general population.   

This National Travel & Tourism Week, we encourage you to think of the trip that you’ve been meaning to plan – with your family, your significant other, your best friend, your dog, or your self – and book it.