Stepping along ancient cobbled stones, your senses flood with differing shades of ochre-painted houses and rainbows of flowers pouring from clay pots outside each doorway. Winding your way to the town center you anticipate the scrumptious meal and delicious wine that awaits you. You are captivated by this community full of work, play, art and life at its fullest. It’s hard to imagine that in the darkness of the middle ages, the world’s most visionary planners built towns like this one to promote health, happiness and productivity. As you stroll through the arched passageways of this beautiful Italian village you confirm their wisdom, as healthy and happy are exactly how you feel.
Whether this adventure is on your bucket list or conjures up an actual memory, you no doubt have experienced the amazing power of travel to literally light up your brain. Neuroscience research is revealing how profoundly health-giving travel can be, both in the moment and for years to come. And surprisingly, how you feel when you travel is a simple barometer for whether it is having a beneficial impact on your brain. The more you love what you are doing, the more you light up your brain.
Because the brain is a ‘use it or lose it’ proposition, cognitive function is highly dependent on whether we engage in a variety of interesting, fun, challenging activities that protect our brains from decline and disease. Travel enables us to do just that. Given that adult lives are often full of stress and everyday demands, travel becomes the perfect antidote. It provides a welcome change from routine, new places and people to spark our curiosity, and we can take time out to rest and relax. These positive experiences create powerful biological responses.