When I was in college a friend asked me to describe the perfect day.

"I wake up, look out the window of my hotel room. Turn to my wife, and ask, 'So love, where do you want to go today?'"

"And if you have kids?"

"I wake up, look out the window of my hotel room. Turn to my kids, and ask, 'So kids, where do you want to go today?'"

I have long felt that there is something about travel that nurtures the mind and soul in ways that little else can. Seeing something new, something unexpected, something that screams loudly to a sense of the world and living as ultimate art brings about some deepening sense of peace that uniquely belongs to those who wander out into the world.

Traveling is a wonderful thing. Travel is good for your health. There is now science to back this up--though I'm not sure that the broader implications of the study have been fully understood. I'm hoping that we can change that and give you a little science that says, 'TAKE A VACATION!'

Recently a group of scientists decided to study the health effects of meditation so they devised a study (1) published in August of last year in Translational Psychiatry, that included a control group of vacationers. One group went to a resort and took lessons on meditation. Another group went to the same resort only for a vacation (where do I sign up?!). A third group of experienced, regular meditators also went to the same resort and meditated. What they found was that meditation really is good for your health. Yay. Good. Surprise.

BUT...What they also found out was that just going on vacation had huge health benefits that lasted for months after the vacation. The study is quite technical so I won't get into the details here but the positive effects in a group of 624 genes related to health and healing studied for vacationers was 6.1 times what would be by chance. Oh, and if you are into healthy aging you'll want to know that the vacation group's telomeres were longer too. You go, Group 2!

In an interview with Skift (2), Facebook's Kim Warner says that "travelers are spending 43 days from the moment that they're ready to book a trip to the moment that they actually book it." That means that on average travelers are starting their vacation search even earlier. This is great news because another study (3) from 2010 suggests that the act of planning a vacation has stress relieving benefits too! So you can get a few months' worth of happiness benefits before your vacation even starts simply by planning your next vacation...then boost your body on a genetic level while you are relaxing. I'm not sure that it gets any better than this.

All these wonderful health benefits can be yours by planning and taking a nice relaxing vacation. So go ahead, ask yourself: "where do I want to go today?"


1 Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes: Published in the medical journal Translational Psychiatry 2016: Citation: Transl Psychiatry (2016) 6, e880; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.164

2 Citation: https://skift.com/2016/11/08/interview-facebooks-head-of-travel-reveals-how-brands-are-winning-on-the-platform/

3 Citation: Nawijn, J., Marchand, M.A., Veenhoven, R. et al. Applied Research Quality Life (2010) 5: 35. doi:10.1007/s11482-009-9091-9