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Five Reasons Why Travel Is Good For Your Mental Health

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say ‘travel’ – Vacation? Meeting new people? Or maybe, Instagrammable sunsets? While traveling can be exciting and exhilarating, it’s so much more than sipping margaritas on a sun-soaked beach.

It’s no news that travel is good for your physical wellbeing, but a significant amount of scientific research suggests that exploring a new place can do wonders for your mental and emotional health as well.

Here are five evidence-backed ways traveling makes your mind happy and healthy:

1. It’s a great stress buster. “The stress of work and daily demands can distract us from what we find to be actually meaningful and interesting,” says Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist and author of Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness. Thus, taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle is essential for your mind to relax, recharge and rejuvenate.

And what better way to do so than to pack your bags and cross wanderlust-worthy destinations off your bucket list? Traveling promotes happiness and helps you take your mind off stressful situations. This leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content. “It also helps us reflect on our personal goals and interests,” adds Greenberg. According to a 2013 study, more than 80% of Americans, who were surveyed, noticed significant drops in stress just after a day or two of traveling. “Even though I’m always busy when I travel, whether it’s sightseeing, taking photos or just exploring a destination on foot, I know I’m the calmest and most relaxed when I travel,” says Jacintha Verdegaal, an avid traveler and founder of travel and lifestyle blog, Urban Pixxels.

2. It helps you reinvent yourself. Writer Patrick Rothfuss said, “ A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet .” Experiential traveling, particularly to a foreign country, can help you re-evaluate and reinvent your life. “If you allow it, travel has the ability to expand your mind in a way you never realized was possible,” says solo travel expert and founder of the Trusted Travel Girl, Valerie Wilson.

Moreover, the valuable lessons that you learn along the way broaden your perspective, making you more aware and open to new things. “I love traveling to places with different cultures because it forces you to think about your own,” says Verdegaal. “Different is not better or worse, it’s just different. But being confronted with these differences helps me to re-evaluate my own principles and values and, sometimes, change them,” adds the professional globetrotter.

Exploring new places can also give you a fresh start if you’re recovering from a major transition in your life. “When I had Lyme disease, for several years, my world shrunk. I lost friends who didn’t know how to deal with a sick friend. I was quite alone and lost a lot of my self-confidence,” says Wilson, who began to travel “out of fear of relapsing.” “By traveling and interacting with the world around me, I found a new passion for life. I convinced myself to travel even when I wasn’t feeling well. It has brought me happiness, given me a purpose, and has made me a strong, independent woman,” she explains.

3. It boosts happiness and satisfaction. Apart from the obvious fact that you don’t have to go to work (and can legit eat pizza for breakfast), traveling gives you the opportunity to step away from the daily grind. The new events and experiences help rewire your brain, hence boosting your mood and self-confidence. “I think people, in general, are not meant to be tied down to just one place their entire lives. I especially feel “trapped” when I have to stay in the same place for too much time, without being able to really move about and explore,” says travel aficionado and co-founder of The Passport Memorandum, Marta Estevez. “My life feels most fulfilling when I’m outside, living through new experiences and learning,” adds the travel expert who has been to more than ten countries.

“Travel definitely makes me happy,” agrees Wilson. “Even the act of planning a trip gives me something to look forward to and brings me happiness,” says Wilson. Turns out, she’s not the only one who feels that way. According to a Cornell University study, the anticipation of a trip can increase your happiness substantially, even more than the anticipation of acquiring something tangible, like a new car.

4. It makes you mentally resilient. Going and living somewhere where you feel excited and intimidated at the same time can help you toughen up mentally and emotionally.When I was younger, I couldn’t see myself traveling the world on my own. But now, I travel by myself most of the time. And I love it! It’s never as scary or dangerous as you make it in your head,” says Verdegaal of Urban Pixxels.

Also, facing difficulties in an unfamiliar environment, among new people, forces you to learn and adapt to a life that’s out of your comfort zone. This makes you more flexible, patient and emotionally strong. “Travel has taught me patience, to surrender control to the uncontrollable, and effectively problem solve,” says Wilson who describes herself as a “naturally anxious and impatient person.”

It can also help you deal with “larger issues in life with more grace and patience,” adds the travel expert. “One of the worst experiences I had, early on in my travel life, was being mugged of loads of cash and my passport just a day before I was due to fly home. It taught me to accept situations like this more calmly and to attach less emotion to belongings. Now, I can get over similar stressful situations very quickly, without having the issue get me down for long,” tells Allan Hinton, a London-based photographer who quit his job to become a full-time traveler.

Similarly, when travel blogger Marta Estevez injured her ankle during the famous Loi Krathong festival (Lantern festival) in Thailand, “the roads were partially closed off that night and the streets were filled with hundreds upon hundreds of people that made it incredibly difficult for us to move,” she explains. “I had to learn to accept the situation and adapt our travels accordingly, without breaking down. I’m not sure I would’ve had the same composure a few years ago in this situation.” Bottom line is, the more challenges you’re faced with, the better you’ll get at overcoming them, eventually becoming more resilient, mentally and emotionally.

5. It enhances creativity. According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, visiting a foreign place and immersing yourself in their local environment (for instance, attending a ‘snake boat’ race in southern India or feasting on crispy tarantulas in Cambodia), increases your cognitive flexibility. It also enhances “depth and integrativeness of thought,” consequently giving a boost to your creativity. Galinsky is the author of multiple studies that look into the connection between creativity and international travel. Although, it’s important to note that traveling stimulates creativity only when you engage with the local culture of that place. Merely visiting a new city or a country isn’t going to cut it.

Additionally, extended traveling also improves your productivity, problem-solving skills and can even increase your chances of getting promoted at work!

However, “it’s important to remember that vacation can be very stressful for some,” notes Greenberg. If that’s the case with you, try taking “short, structured vacations in order to get used to the experience of having time off,” she suggests. Also, plan your trip properly, in advance, to avoid last-minute panic and chaos.

Lastly, how can you reap the benefits after returning from the trip?

“As a clinician, I encourage people to hold on to aspects of a travel experience or vacation that was pleasurable,” says Greenberg. For example, “if you liked the food in Paris, learn how to cook French food in order to re-create some of the feelings you had while you were on vacation,” she explains. “Another behavioral intervention is to remember peaceful moments you had on vacation and try to remember what was different from your present life. Maybe you took the time to eat breakfast, maybe you exercised. Those things are crucial reminders of what we should do every day,” adds the clinical psychologist.

Now that you’ve finished reading about all the wonderful things travel does to your brain, it’s time to pack your bags and get going!

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France imposes travel ban on UK – here’s what you need to know about the new rules

France is set to tighten restrictions on UK travelers with a non-essential travel ban on both vaccinated and unvaccinated arrivals from Saturday, with exemptions for French and EU citizens and residents.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading through the UK at an unprecedented rate. On Wednesday the UK recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. In response to the crisis, and amid fears its own public health system could soon be overwhelmed, France is limiting travel from the UK.

Who is included in the travel ban?

From midnight on Saturday, December 18 (11pm GMT on Friday), a ban on non-essential travel from the UK will be imposed. Only returning French or EU citizens and residents and their families will be able to cross the border from the UK, but they will have to present a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within 24 hours of departure.

New testing and self-isolation rules

Anyone arriving into France from the UK who is permitted to travel, and that includes citizens and residents, must get tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours of departure and get tested again when they arrive in France. They’re also required to register their address details on an app, and they must self-isolate for seven days or at least 48 hours if they can produce a negative test result.

“People (returning to France) will have to register on an app and will have to self-isolate in a place of their choosing for seven days—controlled by the security forces—but this can be shortened to 48 hours if a negative test is carried out in France,” government spokesperson Gabrial Attal told BMF Television via Reuters.

Where can I find the app to register my details?

So far no further information has been provided on the digital app that arrivals must register their details through. However, we will update this article when more information is available.

Can British citizens return home from France?

The travel ban does not apply to those traveling in the opposite direction. Anyone who wishes to travel to the UK from France will be able to do so but as per the UK’s rules they must take either an antigen or negative test before traveling there, and they will also have to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving into the UK. That test must be booked in advance.

Why is the ban being introduced?

In a statement, the government said that from Saturday “people cannot travel for tourism or professional reasons,” adding that the British government had itself said that the UK would face “a tidal wave” of new Omicron-driven infections in the coming days.

“As the Omicron variant spreads extremely quickly in the United Kingdom, the French government has decided to re-implement compelling reasons for travels from and to the United Kingdom, and to reinforce mandatory tests at departures and arrivals,” it said.

The French government also asked French citizens to postpone upcoming UK travel plans.

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The best places to see cherry blossoms around the US this spring

Nothing quite captures the joyous arrival of spring than cherry blossom season.

Ancient hanami (flower-watching) celebrations in Japan may be the first image that springs to mind when you think of this fleeting floral spectacle. However, there are plenty of destinations along the East and West coasts where you can view firsthand those puffs of flawless pink and white blossoms.

From Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin to the serene Japanese Garden of Portland’s Washington Park, sakura displays are accompanied by elaborate Japanese cultural events and traditions.

It’s a poignantly short window of opportunity — and Mother Nature is notoriously unpredictable — but you can expect peak blooms to occur in late March and early April, with slight variations from north to south.

The National Park Service forecasts peak bloom in Washington, D.C., between March 22 and 25, though (depending on the weather) you can expect to see blossoms both before and after those dates.

Here are eight of the best places to see cherry blossoms in the U.S. this spring.

Washington, DC

The capital’s annual three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20 to April 16. More than 3,000 trees span fields and gardens within city limits, but the headline act unfolds at the Tidal Basin, where blossoms photogenically frame some of the nation’s most cherished landmarks. Over 1.5 million people converge on the city each year to witness the spectacle, so be prepared to jockey for a good viewing spot.

The festival is a pink petal extravaganza featuring elaborate parade floats, marching bands, a kite festival, celebrity entertainers and a “Pink Tie” ball. Along the banks of the Anacostia River, “Petalpalooza” on April 8 showcases local musicians and artists with live performances, art walks and installations, as well as family-centric activities and a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m.

Celebrations culminate on April 15 and 16 with the Japanese Street Festival — the largest of its kind in the U.S. Along Pennsylvania Avenue (between Third and Seventh streets), you’ll find martial arts demos, J-pop, traditional food and beverage vendors and a Ginza Marketplace. A one-day pass is $10, and a two-day pass is $15.

If you want to see gorgeous blooms — and beat the crowds — head to the U.S. National Arboretum, about 30 minutes from downtown.

Macon, Georgia

One of the nation’s most extravagant and proudest cherry blossom displays occurs in Macon. It’s celebrated with a 10-day-long International Cherry Blossom Festival (March 17-26), which dates to 1982.

More than 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom from mid-to-late March while the “pinkest party on Earth” features hundreds of events, including the Cherry Blossom Ball, wiener dog racing, tribute bands and dance parties.


Nashville might be better known for its country music scene, but it also plays host to the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival on April 15. It features a 2 1/2-mile Cherry Blossom Walk, which begins in Nashville Public Square. There are also children’s activities, martial arts, sumo suit wrestling, a “Pups in Pink” parade, traditional Japanese music, dancing and purveyors of Japanese specialty fare.

The city’s passion for cherry blossoms dates to 2008 when the Japanese Consulate-General for South-Central U.S. transferred from New Orleans to Nashville and donated 1,000 cherry blossom trees.

Fairmount Park, Philadephia

Philly’s Fairmount Park is home to over 1,600 sakura trees, which were donated to Philadelphia by the people of Japan in 1926 as a gift to mark 150 years of American independence.

Held April 15 and 16, the family-friendly Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia draws over 17,000 visitors over two days. It features kimono dressing, origami tutorials, sushi-making classes, martial arts, taiko drumming, live music performances and a traditional tea ceremony.

Japantown, San Francisco

You’ll find cherry blossom trees throughout San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and cascading photogenically over the bridges and jewel box tea house of its beloved Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in the U.S. (it dates to 1894).

Spring’s top event is the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, held in the Japantown neighborhood and second only to Washington, D.C.’s in size, drawing more than 220,000 people over the first two weekends in April.

Cultural activities include taiko drum performances, bonsai displays, tea ceremonies, doll making, flower arranging, a Japanese food bazaar with a beer garden, a dedicated Children’s Village and traditional art vendors and workshops. Most events take place on Post Street.


The Emerald City ushers in the spring season with a three-day celebration of Japanese culture along with cherry blossom viewing at a handful of locations across the city. Across the Pacific Northwest, cherry blossom season generally peaks the third week in March.

The largest and oldest festival of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival dates to 1976 when then-Prime Minister Takeo Miki of Japan donated 1,000 cherry trees in honor of the U.S.’s bicentennial. Held April 14-16, cultural events include traditional music performances, silk threading, origami demonstrations, kibori wood carving, Japanese cuisine and games.

The best place to view the blossoms is at the Liberal Arts Quadrangle at the University of Washington, where 130 Yoshino cherry trees line the quad’s stately lawns and Gothic buildings. At Washington Park Arboretum, you’ll also find cherry trees along Azalea Way and alongside bridges and walkways in the Japanese Garden.

Portland, Oregon

The best place to see cherry blossoms in Portland is Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which fronts the Willamette River. More than 100 cherry trees bloom across the park’s northern recesses, adjacent to the Japanese American Historical Plaza, which commemorates the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were deported to internment camps during World War II.

In the hills of Portland’s Washington Park, the city’s beloved Japanese Garden is hailed as the nation’s most beautiful. It hosts a number of sell-out cultural workshops, including ikebana (flower arranging) and wine tastings.

At the end of March, cherry blossoms explode along serene walkways that lead visitors to pagodas, bridges, waterfalls and koi ponds. Reservations are recommended, and tickets cost $19.95 for adults. The striking Umami Cafe, designed to resemble Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera temple, is a lovely spot for traditional Japanese tea.

Brooklyn, New York

At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 26 cherry tree species fringe the green lawns of the Cherry Esplanade. One of the highlights of the season is the double-flowering Kanzan cherries, which generally bloom toward the end of April.

The Cherry Walk winds behind the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-inspired gardens outside Japan. It’s dotted with traditional architectural elements, including a red wooden torii, ornate bridges, stone lanterns and a Shinto shrine.

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Tips to keep in mind while traveling in extreme conditions

“Cold weather might be a problem on any hiking trip at any time of year, not just in the dead of winter. Depending on your location and the area you’re hiking in, you may come across chilly weather at any time of year, which might make your journey uncomfortable or, worst yet, result in a significant injury or disease,” says Gayatri Mohanty.

Check the weather and trail conditions in advance

Being aware of the weather is one of the most essential winter hiking tips because it can affect the trail by covering it with new snow, which can be quite confusing while you are hiking. Knowing the weather conditions also makes it easier to avoid hiking when there are strong winds, chances of heavy snowfall, or poor visibility. It is therefore advisable to be aware of the anticipated temperatures and wind speed ahead. You can always hike safely in the snow if you follow our advice.

Maintain Constant Hydration

When trekking in the cold, always make sure you have an insulated bottle and a bottle sleeve with you. If you do this while hiking in bitterly cold weather, the water won’t freeze. If you forget to bring an insulated bottle on your trek or don’t have one, you can also use a spare sock or wrap the water bottle in a towel to keep it warm and insulated.

Carry the Proper Winter Hiking Equipment

If your upcoming trip includes hiking paths, you must pack the appropriate winter hiking equipment. When hiking, wearing the appropriate shoes, bag, jacket, and even jeans can make a big impact. The most important thing to remember when trekking in the snow is to keep yourself warm. You can begin by donning a base layer, followed by a fleece jacket that serves as your intermediate layer, and finally a jacket or down jacket that will aid in insulation and safeguard your body from the cold. Softshell trousers are typically advised when trekking in the winter because they are great at maintaining body heat at all times and shielding you from severe winds and snow.

Pack extra equipment

A fire starter, first aid kit, pocket knife, emergency blanket, waterproof matches, and a waterproof backpack are a few other items you can bring with you on your trek. Bringing an extra kit on your hike will always come in handy and be beneficial for surviving in adverse weather. When you are trekking in snow, all of these things will make a huge impact. Since trekking in snow can be slick and slushy when the snow is melting, they also give you protection and a better grip on the snow.

For your winter hike, bring snacks

During your hikes, it’s critical to keep yourself hydrated and energised at all times. Your body often needs twice as many calories to stay warm and hydrated while trekking in the winter as it does at other times of the year. In order to keep energised at all times, be sure to pack yourself some meals that are both very nutritional and protein-rich. Organic pumpkin seeds, granola bars, protein bars, and even your own homemade trail mix are all suitable for carrying as cold-weather snacks.

Consistently keep your feet warm

While snowshoeing, it’s crucial to keep your feet warm. Make sure you include several pairs of wool-based hiking socks that will keep moisture off of your damp skin. In the event that it gets wet while you’re hiking, it dries rapidly and also aids in heat insulation. When trekking, snow is kept off of your feet at all times by donning hiking boots that go up to the ankle. A pair of gaiters, which save your feet from getting buried in the snow, is another item you can get. As you’ll be spending a lot of time in your boots during your winter excursions, it’s ideal to wear comfy ones.

Hike during the daytime

When we hike on our trails in the summer, we often try to stay out of the sun. In contrast, hiking in the winter is completely different. To feel the warmth of the sun in the chilly months, we would basically do anything. You’ll be able to stay warm and have a better time hiking if you plan your hikes for when the sun is out and blazing brightly in the sky. Due to the drop in temperature in the evening, it is also recommended that you schedule your hikes so that you begin early and finish before the sun sets.

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