For most people, the idea of traveling is exciting. It’s always fun to explore, try new things, and expand your horizons. It’s also a great way to relax and recharge from the stress and fast pace of everyday life. But did you know that travel can be more than just a relaxing vacation? Research shows that travel can have health benefits that help you to live a better life. Here are 6 ways travel can make you healthier.

1. Traveling Encourages Personal Growth

In our increasingly connected world, we’re ironically becoming more isolated all the time. In addition to that, 1 in 6 Americans has been diagnosed with a mental illness and often need to get out of their normal routines to feel more centered and overcome challenges in their lives. Many people decide to travel because they feel stuck and want to relax, shift their perspective, and experience personal growth. Travel can help people improve their mindset and fuel the mind and body, allowing them to make positive changes.

2. Improves Your Character, Connections, and Self-Awareness

When you don’t see anything outside the community you were born into, it’s difficult to develop some facets of character like self-awareness. The humbling experience of being dropped into a culture that’s different from your own forces you to examine your beliefs and gain new perspectives that can increase your self-awareness and improve your connections. You’ll also learn to relate to a wide range of people, increasing your understanding of others and strengthening your ability to create meaningful relationships with others. Travel is a great way to develop your personality and either strengthen or challenge your long-held beliefs, enhancing your sense of self.

3. Travel Improves Your Brain and Reduces Stress

Stress is a huge problem in the United States. We’re always on the go, always worried about the next work email and the next crisis. When you’re traveling, you leave that all behind and you can enjoy a different pace of life. In fact, research shows that after only three days of vacation, travelers’ moods improved significantly, an effect that lasted for weeks after they returned home.

It can also be eye-opening to experience a culture that doesn’t promote stress and a 24/7 work expectation. If you want to slow down reduce stress that your brain has to deal with, try vacationing or studying abroad in France, known for its excellent work-life balance.

4. Helps You Develop Compassion by Seeing New Cultures

We’re so quick to reject the unfamiliar. When you leave your own culture and visit someone else’s, you’re suddenly the fish out of water. You are experiencing things for the first time, and you might see things from a new angle. This helps you to develop compassion and to give people the benefit of the doubt. Getting exposure to a wide range of cultures will make you more empathetic and open-minded about people of all backgrounds.

5.  Gets You Out of Your Environment and Comfort Zone

As humans, we are wired to resist change, even though it’s usually good for us. Getting out of your own environment might feel uncomfortable, but it’s actually a very healthy thing to do. Pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone will help to inspire you and build skills that will serve you well throughout your life. You’ll experience new things, you’ll have to rely on your own judgement and common sense to navigate unfamiliar situations, and you’ll become more enlightened and adaptable by learning to thrive in all kinds of different environments.

6.  You’ll Create Memories That Will Last Forever

The memories you make traveling will help to sustain you throughout your life. Those memories of life-changing risks, adventures, joys, and challenges of travel will be a source of happiness for you, and a way to connect with others by allowing you to share your experiences. You’ll never remember the hours you spend watching TV, but you will remember your first glimpse of Machu Picchu or the Great Barrier Reef.

Creating More Joy and Happiness

There are so many ways traveling can benefit your health and character, but one of the best benefits is that you’ll create more happiness and moments of joy when you prioritize travel. Traveling at any age is one of the most rewarding activities you can choose to prioritize. Now go out, and see the world!