For much of our lives, we don’t have that much choice in how we spend our time. We’re asleep for (on average) 33 years of our life. We spend more than 13 years, on average, at work — and that doesn’t account for the nights we go to bed early so that we can wake up for work, the time it takes to commute back and forth, and the many other time-wasters that our hard work demands of us. We have to spend our time and our energy on our families, too (though we don’t mind that quite so much), and we have chores, workout plans, and a thousand other little things stealing and restructuring our time. All of this we do inside offices, on highways, and in our homes. So much of our lives are dedicated to daily routines and time inside.
No wonder, then, that it feels so great to go on vacation. It’s also no wonder that vacations are so good for us. Experts agree that vacations are healthy for our bodies and our minds, and that we return to our daily routines feeling invigorated and more productive than we were before we left.
And if you want your vacation to be even healthier, take this advice: Get out into nature.
The natural world and your health
Taking some time off of work and relaxing your body and mind is good for your overall health. But it might be a little less obvious that doing so out in nature would be better for you than taking a vacation to a city.
There are a few reasons for this. For starters, the fresh air in the countryside is often healthier than the (often-polluted) air that you’ll find near major population centers. For another, outdoor vacation spots are likely to include opportunities for physical activities like hiking and rock climbing — which are healthy, of course, because exercise is good for you.
On top of this, though, experts have found that being outside is just plain good for you — even if you’re not exercising or doing anything else that is self-evidently healthy. And if just being outdoors is good, being outdoors in nature is even better. Experts say we begin to calm down mere moments after we enter a natural space, and that nature is good for our overall mental health (again, even if we’re not doing anything that’s self-evidently healthy while we’re there).
Taking a natural vacation
All of this means that it pays to plan a vacation that takes you out into the natural world. And, happily, planning such a vacation can be easy.
The United States has tons of great outdoor destinations, not the least of which are our stunning National Parks. And because National Parks are such a draw to traveling tourists, they’re often surrounded by lodging and other amenities. National Parks are also developed (albeit carefully and in a limited way) with roads and rest stops so that they are easy to travel through by vehicle.
You don’t have to plan your own outdoor vacation, of course, nor do you have to rough it. You may want to opt for an all-inclusive resort, suggest experts. Such resorts can cater to your specific hobbies and vacation goals; if you love fishing, for instance, perhaps you’ll look for an all-inclusive fishing resort in Alaska, British Columbia, or some other spot renowned for its excellent fishing. On the other hand, you could get more rugged. Whether you plan it out yourself or sign up for an organized trip, you could spend your next vacation trekking through the wilderness with a backpack — which would be healthy thanks to the exercise and the time outdoors.
Whatever you choose, remember: An outdoor vacation is just the thing for a healthy and refreshing break from mundane reality. Paris and New York City may be great, but every once in a while, you need to get back to nature — your health demands it.