The ultimate reason why travel brings us happiness
At the Virtuoso conference this past summer, CEO Matthew Upchurch said travel was a force for good. It's obvious, right? Travel in general helps economies, it bridges cultures, it brings self reflection and it allows us to express ourselves. Travel also helps us connect with nature, new ideas and adventures, is proven to lower stress levels and helps strengthen relationships. Only good can come from traveling—but there's a prominent, underlying reason why even more happiness is achieved when you're taking jaunts around the world.
"The problem with the relentless quest for self-knowledge and inward focus is that it can become an excuse for self-interest and even narcissism," says Samantha Boardman, MD. "Don't get me wrong; it is important to take care of ourselves … but too much emphasis on the self can lead us astray.
"People who connect with other human beings, even strangers on a train or in the checkout line, report brighter moods," she wrote for MindBodyGreen. "Behavioral scientists call this 'social snacking,' and it may just be the healthiest snack in the world. The key is to actively seek pathways that will help us transcend ourselves and escape the echo chamber of our minds. As tempting as it is to dive inward, make it a priority to connect, to interact, and to add value."
Travel is already a force of good but the journey is at its most-rewarding peak when we interact with locals, hotel staff, waiters, other travelers, tour guides, bartenders and strangers. While small interactions with strangers (like the grocery store check-out line) can be achieved at home in familiar territory, our levels of contentment are already high when we're on a trip. All things considered, the aspect of "social snacking" essentially doubles our happiness levels. And, unlike moments when we're at home, easily able to seclude ourselves, there's no way to avoid interaction with strangers—like hotel staff, locals, other travelers, tour guides, waiters and bartenders—when we're traveling. We're constantly interacting, even if it's forced, which still enforces the force of good (like what I did there?). Those little moments with strangers have significant impact on levels of happiness and, in a way, it's why we travel. We travel because we want to explore the unfamiliar, and strangers are part of that.
So, the next time you're traveling, remember to interact with locals. It only brings you more happiness—science guarantees this!