There was a time when a vacation was seen as an indulgence. However, travel is actually a topic that everyone needs to take seriously if they care about their health. Research is showing that traveling and enjoying vacation time may actually offer big boosts for your physical well-being as well as mental health. There is a lot to gain from checking out from your everyday life, packing a few bags and heading to a place that is entirely new to you.

In fact, money spent on traveling can be considered an investment in your brain and body. A trip may even help to boost your productivity levels when you return home. It could be time to use some of those business miles you've been saving up to treat yourself to a trip that's strictly for leisure.

Why Americans Don't Travel

Americans don't travel nearly as much as they should. While Europeans tend to visit between eight and 10 countries throughout their lives, Americans usually don't go past three. Almost 30 percent of Americans have never left the country!

Why aren't Americans visiting other countries for vacations? One of the big factors is cost. Booking flights, hotel rooms and other arrangements for trips abroad can be hard to pull off cheaply (check out our tips and tricks to getting cheap flights and cheap hotels for starters). Other factors include a lack of vacation time and a lack of interest in visiting unfamiliar places.

The Benefits of Travel

The Global Commission on Aging, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the United States Travel Association joined forces to conduct a study that presents some eye-opening findings regarding the impact travel has on health and wellness. Here are some of the most important pieces of information gathered from the study:

  • The risk of death was 20 percent higher for men who didn't take annual vacations compared to men who did
  • The risk of heart disease was 30 percent higher for men who didn't take vacations annually compared to men who did
  • The risk of coronary death was 20 percent higher for women who only vacationed once every six years when compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year

The good news is that the study also found that the positive effects of travel are almost instant once you grab your bags and hit the road. In fact, 89 percent of respondents saw big drops in their stress level as soon as they arrived at their destinations.

How to Make Travel a Real Part of Your Life

It's easy to go down the list of reasons why you just can't get away for a vacation. However, you may want to take some steps to make traveling a bigger part of your life if you're interested in boosting creativity, reducing depression and simply loving life more. Here are some smart ways to squeeze travel into your budget and lifestyle without making huge sacrifices:

  • Fly using budget airlines
  • Sign up for a credit card that offers free airline miles
  • Sign up for a co-branded credit card that gives new members points for hotel stays
  • Join an airline loyalty program that offers generous mileage giveaways
  • Ask a family member who is a frequent traveler to transfer unused bonus airline miles to your account

Being savvy about planning trips can help to make the goal of taking more vacations a little easier to reach. The bottom line is that making travel a priority is important because seeing more of the world can help to make your everyday world brighter.