Don’t we all deserve some time away from the hustle and bustle of life? It is a fact that travelling by car, plane, or sail to unexpected areas not only enriches your life but also makes you healthier in both mind and body. When the distinct horizons allure you and when the thrill of exploration makes you want to travel to new places. When you have a curiosity about different cultures and staying in one place makes you feel stagnant, and when you have exhibited a love for wandering, you are akin to what we call Hodophilia. In this article, we delve into what hodophilia is, why this wanderlust exists, and how travelling serves as a beneficial medium for many and impacts their mental well-being positively.
What is Hodophilia?
Hodophilia is derived from the ancient Greek words hodo which means journey and philia, which means love or attachment. Simply put, Hodophilia is the love for travel and journey. Extending this on Hodophiles, a hodophile is someone who has a love for travelling and adventure.
Benefits of Travelling
Travelling is more than just seeing new locations and snapping pictures; it fosters fresh ideas and perspectives and is a genuine investment in oneself. The movement of individuals between geographically distant places is referred to as travel.
“When people travel for pleasure, they have more opportunities to detach from their work environment, experience new things, and control what they want to do during vacations,” explains Paul Simeone, PhD, Vice President and Medical Director of Behavioural Health at Lee Health. There is ample research to support the notion that positive travel experiences can make one healthier, and improve overall wellness.
Unlike mere tourists, hodophiles seek more than just snapshots and souvenirs; they crave the deeper connection that comes from embracing the essence of a place. Travelling and Wellness, According to a 2013 study with people aged 25 to 70+, 80% of respondents said travel improves their general mood and outlook on life with 75% of respondents also saying travel helps them reduce stress (Royds, n.d.).
Good travelling also helps you to improve the functioning of your brain. It boosts creativity, which in extension then increases the productivity of your work. Experiences in foreign countries can also aid in improving cognitive flexibility. A Harvard Business Review study of over 400 travellers found that 94% of respondents had as much or more energy after returning from a good trip. Hodophiles also seek adventure because it is an apt method of stress reduction. It is also known to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Travelling also helps you to explore yourself. Exploring ourselves is essential for growth and overall well-being. Research indicates that travelling makes us good humans, increases our sensitivity, and strengthens our capacity to cope with adverse situations. Travelling gives us various perspectives on different events that happen around us.
Purpose of Travelling
- Tourism or vacationing
- Research Travel
- Information Gathering
- Visiting People
- Volunteer Travel for Charity
- Migration to Start a New Life
- Religious Pilgrimages and Mission Trips
- Business Travel
While these may be some of the most common reasons for travelling and exploring a true hodophile needs no reason to seek adventure into a foreign land. They feel pleasure when they immerse themselves in another culture and have an insatiable desire to explore different places. Travellers can use human-powered transportation such as walking, or bicycling, as well as vehicles such as automobiles, trains, boats, etc.
Reasons for Travelling
- Adventure in discovery and exploration
- Communication between cultures
- Investing personal time in developing interpersonal relationships
- Keeping stress at bay
- Making Memories
Openness to Experience is a key personality dimension derived by Paul Costa and Robert McCrae. The thirst for adventure and wanderlust can be attributed to this personality dimension. Individuals who are characterised by this personality trait like to seek new experiences, prefer variety and are curious to try everything. They are also more inclined towards risk-taking behaviour.
In 2016, many websites started talking about the “wanderlust gene”. This information made rounds and was widespread. A psychology blog suggested that a variation in the DRD4 gene also known as the DRD4-7R, was known to chase curiosity and restlessness. The DRD4 gene is also known to influence the dopamine levels of the brain. All of these factors come together to influence the lust for travelling to new places.
How can travel improve mental health?
- Travel may be beneficial to a sleepy mind. Travelling is a reset from the daily routine of your life. It is an opportunity to gain new experiences. It evokes curiosity in your mind and increases brain activity. It is a healthy way to keep your brain active.
- Travelling helps to reduce job burnout. We have discussed before how research conducted on travelling and work shows that people show marked improvement in their performances at work after they return from a good vacation.
Travelling to new places gives you cognitive flexibility. It allows
- It can improve your mood. Travelling increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter linked with sending signals of happiness.
- Travelling can reduce the risk of depression. Travelling also alleviates symptoms os for anxiety and stress.
- Travelling also proves that it can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Travelling also increases one’s ability to be patient. Besides patience, travelling can also develop an individual’s other life skills.
- Travelling also served as a form of experimental therapy. Individuals can pursue travelling for self-growth, reflection, gaining insights, developing resilience and being patient.
- Travelling can also impact your social relationships and how you interact with the outside world. It can give you new insight into how different cultures interact and how to adapt to change and situations.
According to mental health professionals, there is research to support the link between travel and happiness. Having fresh and diverse experiences may raise the spirits of certain travellers. Another study discovered that women who take at least two vacations per year are less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress than women who take only one holiday per two years. If you can travel, even if it is only for a few days and closer to home than you would prefer, the process of planning and getting away from travelling can lift your spirits, improve your sleep, and lessen your stress.
In unravelling the psychology of hodophilia, researchers embark on a journey of their own, navigating the intricate landscapes of human behaviour, motivation, and well-being. Escaping a difficult job, a nasty breakup, the untimely death of a loved one. Travel, like Eat, Pray, Love, maybe a nice escape from the stress and misery that come with it. People go on vacation to get what they can’t have at home: better weather, finer scenery, the flexibility to do anything they want, experiences they wouldn’t otherwise get, and a slower, more relaxed pace. Admiring artworks at the Louvre or lazing on a Hawaiian beach are both fantastic ways to escape the daily grind. Travel is especially beneficial for workaholics who find it difficult to leave their jobs behind. Taking a break from work is beneficial both mentally and physically.