With the cold weather biting across the country, flights to sunnier climes are heavily booked, but research shows travel could also have benefits for the clinically depressed as well as those seeking a winter break.
Victoria University researcher Dr Sebastian Filep says his recent study on the benefits of travel found that a holiday may be a good tonic for those suffering from depression.
“We know from overseas studies that people in The Netherlands and the US who travel report greater levels of happiness than those who do not,” Dr Filep said.
“Now we have evidence from Australia that there is a link between happiness and travel. Up to now we just had anecdotal reports that there might be a link.”
Dr Filep, a research fellow at the Centre for Tourism and Services Research, conducted interviews with a group of 60 Australian travellers and examined their journals to gauge their levels of happiness.
“I found that the tourists’ motivations for travel, experiences at destinations and post-holiday reflections were linked to three main elements of happiness,” he said. These were:
- positive emotions – joy, interest, contentment and love
- meaning – a sense of purpose and personal growth and
- engagement – a sense of involvement.
“I believe that we may one day see holidays being prescribed by doctors as part of a treatment for depression because people instinctively link holidays with happiness.”
His study, which was conducted as part of a doctoral thesis, forms the basis of a chapter in the forthcoming book, Tourists, Tourism and the Good Life.
Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.