Each winter season seems longer than the one before, and many of us long for the opportunity to sit by the pool, read a book, and relax. Now that summer is nearly here, it’s time to start planning a vacation to treat yourself for all your hard work. If it feels frivolous to spend money on traveling to an exotic location, especially with friends in tow, you may want to frame your time away from home a little differently.
Believe it or not, taking a vacation contributes to your overall well-being. While it may feel like your bank account says otherwise, or you indulge in less than healthy foods when away, there are proven benefits to taking a trip with your closest pals. Not just the break you get from work, a vacation with friends can offer much more. Let’s take a deeper look at some scientific data you can tell your boss the next time you ask to use your paid time off.
What are friends for?
While jetting to a foreign destination would be fun for just about anyone, imagine how much better a time you’d have if two or three of your best pals came along with you. Sure, being on vacation alone can be great, but experts are exploring this added element of socialization, and they’re finding some interesting results.
In general, whether you’re on vacation or spending a three-day weekend at home in your backyard, the benefits of having friends is undeniable. A group of researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah explored nearly 150 different studies that took a look at people’s social circles and compared them to major health indicators. These reports extended across 7.5 years and examined 308,000 individuals. Their focuses varied: some looked at social well-being within groups of friends, while others explored marriages or how people interacted with their community.
After considering all variables, the team at BYU saw one clear thread among them all: Those who measured high on the scale of social satisfaction had a decreased rate of mortality. Surprisingly, this was true despite the ages or health conditions of the people studied.
One of the biggest reasons why friendships are so beneficial to one’s well-being relates to stress, an issue that can create a wealth of concerning symptoms on a mental, physical, and emotional level. Not only do we feel like we can vent to our friends when life’s problems come up, but it’s also helpful to know that we have people in our corner that can support us in a variety of ways.
When you apply this information to the idea of taking a vacation with friends, it makes sense. The level of fulfillment that we get from being around others we love and care for, combined with the ability to more easily navigate stressful situations, like lost luggage, makes it clear why taking a trip with your pals is an ideal way to go.
Battling burnout with breaks from work
Jet-setting with your closest companions isn’t just about strengthening relationships while you see the world. Taking time off work can have huge benefits that many people don’t recognize. A study from 2016 conducted by the U.S. Travel Association and Project: Time Off found that taking a vacation was quite low on people’s priority list. They interviewed over 5,600 full-time American workers about their vacation time, and found that between the year 2000 and 2015, people took four fewer days off per year.
That may not sound like a big deal, but it points to a concerning trend: people work too much. Naturally, when this happens, productivity goes down the drain. Aside from this decreased productivity, nearly 60% of people end up working remotely while on vacation, thus taking away from their overall level of enjoyment and relaxation. If your friends are with you on your trip, however, you’re less likely to log time behind your laptop than if you were traveling solo.
Overall, taking time off work to go on vacation leads to concrete results when it comes to performance. Multiple studies have shown that productivity levels go up after coming back from a restful trip, and even breaking up our day-to-day routines for more than 24 or 48 hours can have the effect of rejuvenation, without vacationing for weeks at a time.
While it might sound dramatic, working too much and not using hard-earned vacation time can actually be detrimental to one’s physical health. Medical experts have long been exploring the idea of burnout at work, and have linked this concept to cardiovascular issues, impaired immune function, depression, and even suicide. If your working conditions are truly concerning, then a vacation isn’t going to fix that. However, even generally satisfied employees can be susceptible to burnout.
Vacationing and mental health
Today, the topic of mental health is gaining much-needed attention. Some of the benefits we’ve discussed so far when it comes to vacationing with friends have touched upon the idea that this practice can result in less stress over time. Yet vacationing itself brings so many other benefits to our brains, in addition to enabling us to work better when we return:
- Creative juices – Oftentimes, traveling to a new place causes us to look at various parts of ourselves and feel “reinvented”. Maybe you realize after going to a tropical destination that you’d love to get back into swimming, or a trip to Europe’s art galleries inspires you to take up painting. Doing these activities with friends will only help to strengthen the bond you already share.
- Pure bliss – It’s silly to state the obvious, but for some, vacationing isn’t always synonymous with having a good time. However, with enough planning and exciting aspects to look forward to, traveling with friends can greatly improve your level of satisfaction with life. After all, that’s really what it’s for.
- Thinking on your feet – Our vacations rarely go as planned, but even small hiccups can provide mental benefits. The ability to problem solve, especially in another town, state, or even country, can impact your mental health in a positive way. When you vacation with friends and something is amiss, the ability to use teamwork and overcome your challenge is an added bonus, and more often than not makes for a great story later on.
What’s in store this summer?
Going on a trip with friends is often easier said than done, but with a little bit of imagination and planning, the sky’s the limit. What are some of the most important things to think about when vacationing with friends?
- Don’t take on all of the responsibility. If there are several of you flying into one central location from other parts of the country, let everyone make their own arrangements. Consider splitting up the trip-planning tasks once you’ve all arrived, and before long you’ll be feeling relaxed and organized at the same time.
- Spending while on vacation can quickly get out of hand; setting a budget and sticking to it is crucial so that you’re not stressed once you return home. Communicating what is and is not within your means with your travel friends will help when it comes to selecting the activities you do and the places you eat.
- If you and a group of friends know that you’re interested in going on vacation in four months, start looking for deals now. The more you book ahead of time, the more money you’ll save and the easier it will be to make sure things go smoothly.
- Perhaps the most important part of vacationing with friends is to allow yourself to have a good time! All too often we make ourselves feel guilty for taking time off work or leaving family at home, but spending time with your best pals offers true health benefits that are hard to beat.
The next time you find yourself feeling as if you need a breath of fresh air away from your day-to-day life, consider taking a trip with a few of your friends. Nothing else compares to helping you hit “reset” on your life and making memories that will last a lifetime!
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About Slingshot Health
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