Riley Heruska
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For the average American, travel is a luxury. It's something on your bucket list, not a firm plan set in the near future. Additionally, many Americans report that they feel ashamed about taking time off of work to visit a new place or plan a vacation. Maybe that's why 52 percent of American workers that were surveyed in 2017 didn't even use all of their vacation days. People think traveling is too expensive and time-consuming to register as a priority. 

What many don't realize is that traveling is about more than creating cool Instagram posts or sipping a fruity beverage on a beach. It's an important part of our mental and physical health, and science has proven that those who travel consistently are healthier and happier in numerous ways. Not only will traveling give you tons of fun memories, but it can also: 

  • Decrease your risk of suffering a heart attack. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and a 30 percent greater risk of heart disease, according to some studies. Women who vacationed at least twice a year were significantly less likely to have a heart attack than those who vacationed every six years or more.

  • Decrease your risk of serious depression. Because travel is so effective at relieving stress levels, it can also prevent people from dealing with stress-induced depression. In many ways, traveling is like an all-natural antidepressant. 

  • Increase your emotional stability. As your travels give you more perspective, you'll find that you feel less anxious and more at ease in your own body. In fact, one studied shows that 86 percent of people who travel frequently are satisfied with their outlook on life. 

  • Strengthen and speed up your brain. This is especially true when you're exposed to another language and forced to learn new phrases. 

  • Boost your immune system. Although spending time in crowded airports and new environments sounds like a surefire way to catch some nasty bug, science has found that exposing yourself to various foods, climates and cities can actually help your body produce important antibodies

  • Help you live longer. Research has indicated that travel can increase your chances of living a long, active life

Roughly 24 percent of Americans say that it's been more than a year since they took a vacation. If you're one of those people, stop telling yourself that you don't deserve the break or that the cost isn't worth it. Even small weekend trips to nearby towns can count as traveling! Remind yourself that your body can benefit from the experience just as much as your mind, then book your trip. 

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