In his evaluation of the findings, brain-health expert and New York Times best-selling author, Mike Dow, PsyD, PhD, suggested that widespread feelings of isolation and burnout following months of quarantine are prompting Americans to plan much-needed escapes. The majority cited a desire to visit family and friends, who have long been cut-off by lockdown measures.
But, Dr. Dow argues, trips don’t need to be lengthy in order to effectively boost one’s mental health. “Travel, especially quick, local getaways, are a valuable way to balance our physical health with our mental health and can increase connections in our brain, thereby improving both our current and future mood—so quickie getaways are actually an investment in your long-term wellbeing,” he said.
Hotwire’s investigation revealed that nearly 90 percent of Americans are adopting new precautions in the course of their travels this summer, including keeping their trips fairly brief, close to home and driving themselves to their destinations.
Interest in local travel and shorter trips is increasing, as this type of travel seems to fit the parameters of what most Americans perceive as acceptable for avoiding potential viral transmission, leading to the rise of so-called “quickie” trips.
“Quarantine has made us stir crazy and that’s probably putting it lightly. We’ve heard everyone talk about flattening the COVID curve, but it’s also important to flatten the mental health curve,” said Dr. Dow. “It’s understandable to feel a bit nervous, but staying close to home and limiting your trip duration are key to reaping the rewards of travel while staying safe and saving money!”
Other findings of the survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, include:
—62 percent of respondents said they haven’t taken a vacation day since COVID-19 began, with twelve percent reporting having taken only one.
—Still, 72 percent are either planning or remain interested in summer travel this year, while taking extra precautions to stay healthy.
—81 percent indicated that taking quick, local trips are an ideal way to test the waters of travel before investing in a longer vacation.
—67 percent said that they feel it’s just not summer without taking some kind of vacation.
—86 percent preferred short trips to long trips, in part because they’re more affordable (43 percent), less stressful to plan (39 percent) and are easier to coordinate (31 percent).
—Respondents believed the top three health benefits of a quick trip would include mental recharge (51 percent), reduced stress (50 percent) and improved mood (44 percent).
The patchwork of ever-fluctuating interstate travel restrictions in the U.S. is also contributing to travelers’ tendency to plan things at the last minute, to avoid encountering regulatory changes at their intended destination between planning and execution of their trip.
In offering advice, Dr. Dow reiterated the importance of researching the most recent information on your intended destination, checking for regional or local restrictions regarding travelers, as well as specific health and safety recommendations. He also endorsed the idea of booking one’s trip close to the departure date, so that there’s no risk of plans being impacted by fresh state or jurisdictional regulations that could crop up.
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