Dopamine travel: How can travelling make you feel better?

3 min read

Dopamine travel: How can travelling make you feel better?
Psychologist Dr Jo Gee explores the wellness trend of "dopamine travel", digging into the ways that travel really can make you feel better
In the whirlwind of modern life, stress has become an unwelcome companion for many. According to a survey conducted in 2023, a staggering 91 per cent of adults reported experiencing high or extreme levels of stress. As we grapple with this epidemic of stress, prioritising our wellbeing has become paramount. One avenue gaining traction is wellness tourism, hailed as the fastest-growing sector in the travel industry. It's evident that we are increasingly seeking solace and rejuvenation in our holiday experiences.
AttractionTickets.com teamed up with psychologist Dr Jo Gee (PhD) to delve into how we can use holidays to benefit our mental and emotional health.

How long should your holiday last?

Dr Gee asserts, "The impact on wellbeing from a holiday typically peaks on the eighth day." Therefore, she recommends that holidays should ideally span a minimum of eight days to ensure we reap maximum benefits.
"The benefits of a holiday extend beyond its duration"
However, the benefits of a holiday extend beyond its duration. Dr Gee emphasises the significance of pre-trip anticipation, stating, "The anticipation prior to a holiday can also help boost feelings of joy and happiness, often yielding more benefits in brain activity than the holiday itself. Therefore, planning your holidays well in advance is essential."

What is dopamine travel? 

Dr Jo Gee explains: “The change of scenery and adventurous nature of an active holiday can lead to an all encompassing change in the dominant neurotransmitters in our brain, triggering releases of dopamine, as well as serotonin and adrenaline. It’s this effect of certain holidays that has coined a new travel trend—dopamine travel.
“We often see that a complete distraction from everyday life through holidays that promote meaning or growth have been proven to increase feelings of wellbeing, as well as increases in performance and general activity level. The effects of these positive benefits have been reported as lasting up to eight weeks, post holiday. This is particularly present for outdoor trips such as mountaineering or skiing where a sense of accomplishment can lead to long lasting increases in self esteem and confidence.”
Man skiing
Just as the “dopamine dressing” trend encourages clothing in bright, bold colours, our surroundings can also play a vital role. Oliver Brendon, CEO of AttractionTickets.com adds: “The dopamine travel trend is centred around immersing yourself in vibrant landscapes, which is why the brightly-coloured theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort make such popular destinations. Plus, you’re set for a big dose of dopamine while riding popular roller coasters such as the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Islands of Adventure.
“For more mindful moments, surrounding yourself in nature can create a sense of adventure and escapism unlike traditional wellness retreats. Consider choosing experiences like swimming with sea life or the tranquil lazy river at Discovery Cove.”

What are the signs of burnout to look out for?

Dr Jo Gee shares 9 common and lesser-known signs to look out for that indicate burnout—and that you need to book a holiday!
Physical symptoms:
Emotional symptoms:
  • Feelings of failure
  • Helplessness
  • Decreased sense of satisfaction
Behavioural symptoms:

When is it time to seek professional help?

While relaxing on a pristine white beach may feel like the ideal coping mechanism for burnout, it's important to note that if your burnout is particularly severe you may benefit from professional help. 
If your burnout symptoms are persistent and interfere with your day-to-day life and relationships, or are provoking unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking excessively, it's time to reach out to a professional who can help you get to the bottom of it. You can find resources at Mental Health at Work, and you can find more general mental health resources at Mind.
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