Why Road Trips Are Good For Your Mental Health

What is the first thing in your mind when we utter the word ‘road trip’? Is it meeting new people? Trying new exotic food? Vacation? Or maybe, Instagrammable sceneries? While road trips can be exciting, it is so much more than that.

Studies show taking road trips affect the physical and mental well-being of individuals positively. This is why many mental health platforms like BetterHelp approve of the positive effects that road trips offer. Listed below are some of the evidence-backed ways on how road trips contribute to a happier and healthier mind and soul.

Road Trips Take The Stress Away

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According to Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a clinical psychologist and author of Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness, the stress experienced at work and from daily demands usually distract individuals from interesting and meaningful events in life. Hence, taking a break is essential. This will lead to a recharged and rejuvenated mind.

“Vacations are coping mechanisms that help us adapt to the everyday stresses in our lives.” That is according to John Mayer, PhD. Packing your bags and taking part in road trips promotes happiness and takes your mind off stressful situations. The happiness felt from this undertaking leads to a lower level of cortisol which translates to a more content and calm demeanor.

Driving Is A Form Of Mobile Meditation

“People need time off from work to recover from stress and prevent burnout.” David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA emphasizes. If you are not too distracted by your company, driving can be an alternative way of becoming a meditation exercise. It is essential to stay engaged with your surroundings to be able to maximize your road trip. Here are a few tips on how to pursue this kind of mobile meditation:

  • Do not bring any work with you.
  • Listen to music that makes you happy.
  • Try a mobile mindfulness application.
  • Listen to a travel guide which can give you the history and other trivia about your geographical location.
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Road Trips Can Help You Reinvent Yourself

“A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet,” says writer Patrick Rothfuss. These kinds of experiences help you reevaluate your current life and guides you into making a road map of your future. This is backed up by Valerie Wilson, a solo travel expert and founder of the Trusted Travel Girl. “If you allow it, travel has the ability to expand your mind in a way you never realized was possible,” she advises.

In addition, traveling to a foreign land broadens your perspective. It introduces you to different cultures and practices. These differences help a person re-evaluate his principles and values, and if deem correct, change them.

Road Trips Makes You Mentally Tough

Going somewhere unfamiliar can be a little bit scary. Hence, once you go to a place which makes you both excited and intimated, it will definitely toughen your mindset by a lot. Listen to what Audra J Lee LMFT has to say, “Take a mental health day, take time off from work and refuel & recharge, whatever that looks like for you personally.”

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Encountering challenges in an unfamiliar environment also force you to adopt a life which outside of your comfort zone. This makes you more patient, flexible, and emotionally stable. If you find this extra challenging, it would be best to seek guidance from online materials on what actions you should take. A mental health professional can help you overcome this stumbling block in your exploration.

Traveling Is A Form Of Behavioral Activation

Depressed individuals tend to avoid things that will make them happy. They also have the urge to isolate themselves from people. With that, behavioral activations, such as traveling, can increase activity engagement. This will lead to an improvement in mood.

With all of these in mind, why not take a road trip? Plan as little as possible and only take what you can fit in a small bag. Find some friends to ride with you, fill up the tanks, and go.


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