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What are the health benefits of travelling?

In partnership with Ali Diaper

According to science, taking a holiday is good for you!

Brown haired woman wearing a corduroy sage shirt and glasses travelling overseas in a park
Brown haired woman wearing a corduroy sage shirt and glasses travelling overseas in a park

There’s not much that feels sweeter than logging a chunk of annual leave and heading off for a trip, and when you consider the pluses it’ll have on your physical and mental health, it’s a double win.

That’s right – according to science, taking a holiday is officially good for you. And if your itinerary incorporates fitness? Even better.

“Travel is about exploration,” says Ali Diaper, Head of Travel Marketing at nib Travel. “It allows you to re-energise and revitalise, setting you up well for when the trip is over.”

And with 4.66 million passengers taking domestic flights in May 2022 alone, loads of us are reaping both the physical and mental health benefits.

Physical health benefits of travel

Generally, when we’re on holidays we move a lot more, with common travel activities such as walking and cycling helping work the muscles, heart and lungs.

A 2019 US study found that workers who took more holidays had fewer symptoms of metabolic syndrome (which include obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance) than those who didn’t.

“Often travel is about exploration, and physical activity comes naturally when you replace taxis with your own two feet, veering off the beaten track to discover landmarks and hidden gems,” says Ali, who’s a seasoned traveller herself. “No matter the time of year, travel is an opportunity to get the body moving.” 

And if you can maintain that momentum when you get home, all the better. The simple act of swapping your car for a walk (when done regularly) has significant long-term benefits such as reduced risk of chronic illnesses including type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular issues. 

Brunette dad wearing a black jumper with his blonde son on his shoulders travelling in China

Mental health benefits

Not only is travel packed with incidental exercise opportunities, it’s also loaded with mental health benefits. Giving your mind a holiday from your daily routine is a great chance to recharge, unwind and reset your intentions for the year, Ali says. 

“Travel is a time when you can change gears and gather your thoughts on life, work and family,” says Ali. “It’s often exactly what’s needed to be able to reflect and find balance, as well as being a catalyst for inspiration and new perspective.”

It also helps reduce stress. A 2018 European study showed that even a short holiday left people with lower stress levels and improved wellbeing for at least five days after their return.

Mental wellbeing wins that can come from taking a trip where you are significantly more active also include: 

  • Improved sleep patterns

  • Boosted mood

  • Increased energy levels

Being in a new environment can help you be more present, which means you’ll be less consumed by worrying thoughts. Disconnecting from social media, making an effort to meet the locals and getting out of your comfort zone are ways that Ali recommends you stay present while on holidays. 

“When I travel, the new places, sounds, smells and tastes that are experienced overseas feed my creativity. Through my lens and travel journals I’m able to capture this feeling of peace and calm which I can use as a reminder to slow down from time to time,” she says.

Considering travel insurance may be another way to stay present, because it means you won’t be stressing about anything going wrong.

“Travel insurance allows me to travel the world with a sense of ease knowing that there’s someone there to help me, anywhere and anytime if things don’t go to plan, then the only thing I have to worry about is the journey,” Ali says.

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner. 

Travelling soon? Consider nib Travel Insurance and get a quote

To learn more about what’s covered, see nib travel insurance. nib health insurance members get a 10% discount off their travel insurance.* 

nib Travel Insurance Distribution Pty Limited, ABN 40 129 262 175, AR 336467 is an authorised representative of nib Travel Services (Australia) Pty Ltd (nib), ABN 81 115 932 173, AFSL 308461 and act as nib's agent and not as your agent. This is general advice only. Before you buy, you should consider your needs, the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), Financial Services Guide (FSG) and Target Market Determination (TMD) available from us. This insurance is underwritten by Pacific International Insurance Pty Ltd, ABN 83 169 311 193. 

*The discount applies to the total nib travel insurance premium and is for members that currently hold an Australian health insurance product, an Overseas Student Health Cover product or an Overseas Visitors Health Cover product with nib. Discounts do not apply to the rate of GST and stamp duty or any changes you make to the policy. nib has the discretion to withdraw or amend this discount offer at any time. This discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or discount. 

Travel expert Ali Diaper wearing a navy shirt smiling at the camera

In partnership with

Ali Diaper

Lots of people love to travel, but Ali Diaper has built a career around her passion for globe-trotting. As head of travel marketing (ANZ) at nib's travel division , Ali spends her days building great travel brands that do so much more than simply sell travel insurance. Ali, who previously worked in the television and media industry before finding a home at nib travel, loves to venture off the beaten track to find hidden gems, usually cafes, in any city anywhere.