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How Does Travel Affect Our Mental Health

New poll reports travel positively impacts mental health.
Photo: Shutterstock

Online travel agent eDreams’ latest poll reveals the effects of travel on our state of mind and what most strongly supports our mental wellbeing when we take a trip. The results show that the majority of respondents globally report a “very positive” or “quite positive” impact vacations have on their mental wellbeing. 

  • 63 percent of all respondents globally report that holidays have a “very positive” impact on their mental wellbeing, with a further 29 percent reporting a “quite positive” impact—a total of 92 percent 
  • 42 percent and 39 percent of American respondents self-report a “very” and “quite” positive effect—a total of 81 percent 
  • The most positive psychological effect of vacation travel reported by American travelers was from those in the Northeast (58 percent), including states like New York, Connecticut, and Maine,  with 48 percent from the Midwest reporting a “quite positive” effect. 
  • In the U.S., those aged 18-24 reported the highest percentage (61 percent) of “very positive” effects of holiday travel, while those aged 25-34 reported a “quite positive” effect (44 percent).
  • Portuguese (79 percent) and Italians (78 percent) are the highest percentage of travelers to rank its effects as “very positive”

The poll also asked which activities most supported mental wellbeing while on vacation. 

  • The overwhelming majority—42 percent globally—cite “relaxing and doing nothing” as being the most beneficial of all activities, followed by sightseeing (35 percent) and reading (19 percent). 
  • Americans noted similar top choices but opted out of reading for more social and adventurous activities.
    • Relax and do nothing—23 percent
    • Sightseeing—22 percent
    • Meeting new people—21 percent
  • 21 percent of U.S. respondents ranked meeting new people the third most beneficial holiday activity, compared to 12 percent from Spain and Germany and 13 percent from the UK.
  • In the U.S., 20 percent of those from the Northeast reported doing yoga or meditation as their third most important source of mental wellbeing while on vacation. 
  • 24 percent of global respondents aged 18-24 derive mental benefits from adventurous. activities, compared to just 14 percent of those aged 45-54.
  • 34 percent of Americans in the age group 55-64 report the positive effects of sightseeing while on vacation as contributing to their mental health compared to just 20 percent of those aged 25-34.

The survey was conducted for eDreams ODIGEO by OnePoll of 10,000 travelers from Italy, Spain, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Sweden, Portugal, Germany, and France. In the U.S., the survey was conducted among a sample of 2,000 respondents from March 14 to 20, 2023.

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.