5 Incredible Benefits You Can Gain From Reading While Traveling

A good read can benefit your travel experience in more ways than one!

My best friend studied neuroscience. Not just because he’s en-route to becoming a doctor, but because he’s always been fascinated by the human brain. I studied English, and it wasn’t until he and I got to talking that I began to recognize the powerful connection between literature and the brain.

Reading is thought of as a skill universal, something we in American society practice from an early age between classroom walls, working our way from picture books to the classics. What surprised and delighted me the most about the connection between reading and the brain was the sheer number of benefits spending time with a good book can bring about. How can we harness and recognize these advantages as they pertain to travel? How can we enhance our experiences in the surrounding world? Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Reading As Productive Entertainment

5 Incredible Benefits You Can Gain From Reading While Traveling
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Got a few hours before your connecting flight to Croatia? Long train ride from Italy to Switzerland? Are you one of the brave few who can read riding passenger on a road trip? Look no further for on-the-go entertainment than your local library or bookstore. There’s a preferred genre for everyone, from science fiction to romance––and a story you can’t wait to dive into can make all the difference in surviving the anticipatory travel to your next destination. When you fall in love with a book you tend to lose track of time (at least I do!) and with a good book packed in your bag, you’ll arrive at your next adventure before you know it.

2. Reading Improves Focus and Observation Skills

5 Incredible Benefits You Can Gain From Reading While Traveling
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Everyone knows that reading is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stimulate your brain. Reading stimulates the prefrontal cortex of our brains: the area that affects attention and concentration. Think of it like working a muscle! Improving concentration, focus, and imaginative capacity, spending some time with a good book during your travels––whether it be after a long day of sightseeing or during your travel from one place to the next––reading prepares your brain to observe, concentrate, and take in the world around you on a deeper level. When you’re traveling somewhere new, maybe somewhere that’s been on your travel bucket list for a while, you don’t want to miss a thing. The exercise reading provides our brains will help to ensure that your mind is fully present and prepared, wherever you may be.

3. Reading For A Better Bedtime Routine

5 Incredible Benefits You Can Gain From Reading While Traveling
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While reading for pleasure is an enjoyable activity for any time of the day, there are extra benefits to integrating your current novel into your bedtime routine. So often when I travel, I find myself hard pressed to fall straight asleep the moment my head hits the pillow. My mind is typically chock-full with the next day’s itinerary, the excitement of being in a new location, and my travel goals for the trip. This anticipatory wakefulness comes with a catch: the last place I want to lose sleep is a destination I’ve been dreaming of exploring. Reading a chapter or two is a great way to wind down, calm your mind, and set the course for an energizing and refreshing night’s sleep. In fact, this 2021 study found that reading before bed improves sleep quality, promoting a well-rested morning the next day. Integrating reading into your bedtime routine can help fend off drowsiness and fatigue, to make the most of your trip.

4. Reading As A Stress Reliever

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We all know that traveling can have its stressful side––adventuring can take a lot of work, sometimes! The conversation surrounding mental health and lengths we go to to take care of and nurture our brains has only grown in the past years, for good reason. Traveling is a fantastic means by which we can bolster and support our mental health, but what about the stressors that can crop up along the way? The power of a good read comes not only in its ability to transport the reader to fantastical dimensions, but also in its simple function as a stress reliever. Engaging both the mind and imagination, reading invites your mind to take a breather from the present stressors of the surrounding world. Additionally, reading for just six minutes has been proven to reduce heart rate and and muscle tension caused by stress, as seen in a 2009 study by the University of Sussex.Wherever anxiety may crop up along your travels, don’t let it tarnish your experience––and don’t forget to pack that book.

5. Reading Can Shape Your Perspective

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I like to think that in part, my outlook on the world is the influenced product of all of the wonderful novels I’ve read. There are stories that stick with you long after you’ve closed the back cover and set the book down, and the truth of the matter is that through reading, we can improve both our cognitive and emotional intelligences. Most stories present us with a unique perspective––whether it be first person, third person, or omniscient and wide-spanning––and in this our capacity for empathy, self awareness, and connection becomes amplified. Therefore, reading does not only increase our analytical understanding of the world around us, but also opens us up to an emotional understanding we may not otherwise pause to recognize. With a perspective that values compassion and empathy, our travel experiences become heightened, immersive; we are able to fully imbue ourselves into our next destinations with totality and presence. Expand your internal perspective while expanding your outward perspective on your next travel experience by reading.

Juliana Riedman

Contributing Editor

A South shore Long Island Native, Juliana is scarcely seen without a book in hand. Whether on a plane or at the beach, her passion for reading is rivaled only by her drive to explore. From museum-hopping, coastal hiking to curling up with her cat; she is always seeking her next adventure - and her next good read.

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