I spent a four decade career helping people make decisions about where to travel, trusting if the fit was right for the three communities I promoted, that they would become a source of economic and cultural development.
The U.S. Travel Association, a trade group for the five or six different industries that benefit most from visitors has a website called Travel Effect that for my sensibilities comes across a little too guilt oriented.
But now Gallup has also established a link between well-being and taking vacations. It finds that those who earn less than $24,000 a year and still take regular trips actually have a higher well-being score than those who earn $120,000 or more but don’t regularly make time for vacations.
About half of Americans regularly make time for vacations, a higher percentage of Asians and whites and a lower percentage of blacks and Hispanics.
Regular vacation travel is higher among those over age 65 (smile,) and descends by age group to 47% of those aged 18-29.
Most travel these days is for an extended weekend but Americans who can’t afford to travel abroad or on cruises get the same or an even greater uptick from short excursions or drives to see relatives.
Hopefully, questions can be asked in the future that distinguish the effects related to different types of travel. I suspect it is much higher for visiting friends and relatives or leisure than it is for business travel, conventions or medical treatment.
Gallup is clear though that the causal path underlying the relationship between travel and well-being isn’t clear. It is possible that Americans who travel had a higher well-being to begin with or were more inclined than those with lower well-being.