You can’t deny there’s an inextricable link between happiness and travelling. Travelling is said to increase mental well-being, but not only in the immediate short term. The elated feeling and “natural high” of travelling can last far longer after you’ve set your feet back on terra firma.
Travelling can; boost self-confidence; offer new experiences and lasting memories; give you a much-needed break away from the daily grind and allow you to meet new people and like-minded travellers from all across the world, so you come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated with a new outlook on life. But you’re not doing this alone, with the unrivalled local knowledge and keen expertise of our expert local guides, get ready to embrace all those life-enriching, happy-inducing moments with your ultimate Guide to the World.
The benefits of walking, cycling and getting active
Aside from exercising being good for your muscles, bones and energy levels, keeping an active lifestyle also has profound effects on your mood and general happiness. Even introducing the slightest amount of exercise into your daily routine, no matter what the intensity, can encourage the body to release “feel-good” endorphins.
The first couple of months in the new year is a great time to introduce these habits so you can keep the momentum going throughout the whole year. And why stop there? As much as we enjoy relaxing on holiday, taking some time off to recharge and getting active can also have a massively positive impact on our mental health too.
When we exercise, other chemicals including serotonin, dopamine and BNDF are released as well, which makes you feel a huge rush of achievement and sense of reward when you’ve finished that running circuit, summited that peak or completed that challenging cycling trail you’ve been dying to try.
If you’re thinking of what active challenges you want to tick off your bucket list next year, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to our exhilarating Walking and Trekking Holidays and Cycling adventures. On our Sacred Valley Inca Trail Highlights, delve into the fascinating history of the ancient Incas visiting the lesser-known Pumamarca ruins deep in the Sacred Valley and trek along the iconic Inca trail via the Wiñay Wayna ruins.
With walking tours around the cosmopolitan city of Cuzco and exhilarating climbs to the Sun Gate with breath-views overlooking the lost city of Machu Picchu, this adventure is a perfect balance of visiting cultural sites, archaeological ruins and active trail walking that allows for plenty of time to acclimatise.
For seasoned hikers who want to take it up a notch, we’d recommend our Everest Basecamp Trek. On this epic journey, we make our way through Sherpa country, past the spectacular monastery at Thyangboche where we soak in the panoramas of Dablam before beginning the gruelling climb to Everest Base Camp.
If that trek doesn’t tire you out, you also have the opportunity to push yourself even further by climbing Kala Pattar. Standing at 5,545m tall this peak gives you an awe-inspiring panorama of the highest mountain on earth. Nothing can really compare to the natural highs you’ll feel summiting these Himalayan giants.
When it comes to cycling, our Matera to Monopoli trip offers leisurely cycles through one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Known for its intricate rock churches, Sassi dwellings and beautiful network of winding alleyways, this UNESCO World Heritage Site city is the perfect two-wheel adventure, for those looking to discover the best highlights of Southern Italy.
On this trip, you can explore the breathtaking Alta Murgia National Park, stop to enjoy the Castel del Monte with and take on leisurely cycles along the Adriatic coastline to the lively cities of Trani, Bari and Monopoli, for an adventure that will leave an indelible imprint on your memory.
For avid cyclists who love steeper inclines and undulating terrains, we’d recommend booking our Cycling in Mongolia trip. Riding through the awe-inspiring open steppe, mountain passes and hushed pine forests, this epic 15-day trip takes you right into the very heart of the Mongolian wilderness. With visits to the Erden Zuu Monastery and Karakorum, Genghis Khan’s ancient capital, you’ll also get the opportunity to sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger.
Getting Back to Nature
Countless studies and scientific research have shown the intrinsic link between getting out in nature and happiness. And the same goes when it comes to those awe-inspiring moments of capturing glimpses of wildlife in their natural habitat. With significant increases in people’s wellbeing, health and overall happiness getting out in the great outdoors can effectively decrease stress levels, relieve attention fatigue and even encourage creativity.
So, with this in mind, what top nature trail or ecosystem do you want to explore in 2022? One of our favourites is Costa Rica. Christopher Columbus coined Costa Rica the ‘Rich Coast’ for good reason. Its teeming ecosystem accounts for an astonishing 5% of all the world’s flora, fauna and wildlife, making it the perfect place to reconnect with nature.
On our Costa Rica adventure it’s not uncommon to catch glimpses of howler monkeys swinging from the treetops; see turtle hatchings across white sandy beaches or watch Blue morpho butterflies landing on the serene canals of Tortuguero National Park. But it’s not all about spectacular wildlife sightings, this action-packed adventure takes you trekking past lava fields and mysterious cloud forests, ziplining through tropical jungles and includes visits to the hot springs of Rincon de la Vieja. There’s also an optional canopy walk, where you’ll really feel those natural highs.
Another trip that’s sure to leave an unforgettable imprint on your memory for years to come, is our Namibia 4WD Desert Safari. On this adventure, we journey to one of the least populated corners of the planet. Think orange towering sand dunes, petrified forests and desert-adapted wildlife. Discovering the best parts of Namibia’s sheer natural beauty and eclectic wildlife, enjoy self-guided trails in Spitzkoppe Camp to drives through stark plains and ancient valleys in the Kunene Region.
Those looking for a path less travelled will be rewarded with sights of Black rhinos charging across the Palmwag Concession and bushman engravings of Twyfelfontein in north-western Namibia. Meeting the indigenous Himba Tribe, you’ll also take exhilarating game drives through Etosha National Park. You’ll soon find Namibia ticks every box when it comes to exploring the great outdoors.
Giving back to communities
Another vitally important element of happiness is the gift of giving. Research has shown time and time again that giving actually makes us far happier than the act of receiving something. Scientists have found that when we give to charity, it stimulates areas of the brain associated with pleasure and trust while releasing endorphins that are said to boost happiness and effectively reduce stress.
Travelling is a great way of giving back to local communities, not only through means of tourism and building their businesses, but also the simple act of giving time and interest to people of different cultures, which can, in turn, also feel very rewarding too.
At Exodus, we believe we can improve life through travel in hard-to-reach places. The Inspiration Project helps us do just that. Working with our tour leaders and local networks on the ground across more than 30 different countries, we aim to take disadvantaged local children out on days of adventure and exploration.
Children like 10-year-old Jose, who lives in a poor neighbourhood in Granada, cares for his sister while his mother works to support the family. We took José and 19 other children on a day trip to explore Nicaragua the way Exodus adventurers do; a city tour, a boat trip, a delicious meal at a special restaurant and a bubbling volcano– Jose’s favourite bit! He said, “The day was a joy because I have never been on a trip before. I would like for other children to be able to go too, so they can have fun.” To learn more about our community-based projects across our destinations on behalf of the Exodus Travels Foundation and how to get involved, click here.
So, there you have it. Travel can help to boost self-confidence; offer new enriching experiences and allow you to interact with like-minded travellers from all across the world. It’s hard to define and quantify happiness, as it means a lot of different things to different people. But you can’t deny, that each time you come back from a travelling experience, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, with a new outlook on life.