Travel is often seen as a source of adventure, relaxation, and personal growth. Whether it's a weekend getaway or a year-long expedition, the allure of exploring new places and experiencing different cultures is undeniable. However, the question is: Does travel have a detrimental effect on your body?

Travel enthusiasts often have varying perspectives on the impact of long-term travel. Travel blogger Erick Prince from Minority Nomad believes, "I can't think of anything specifically travel-related that would negatively impact health as a long-term travel professional." On the other hand, travel writer Brianne Miers shares a contrasting view, stating, "I developed severe G.I. (Gastrointestinal tract) issues that doctors guessed were from collecting different bacteria from all over the world." These differing opinions highlight the complexity of frequent travel.

Recently, I've grappled with a series of health challenges stemming from my extensive long-term travel. My right foot became a significant concern, likely exacerbated by the constant strain and impact placed on my foot during my adventures. These problems developed into chronic pain, requiring me to take extra care to manage my foot and seek appropriate medical advice and treatment. My biggest dilemma is just walking for extended periods on a trip – Christmas in New York City in 2021 caused me endless trouble – and really dampened my time in the Big Apple.

In addition to my foot troubles, I've also faced bladder issues that ultimately necessitated surgery. In December 2022, during my trip to Nepal, it became evident that I needed to address the issue. As I was being chauffeured around, we had to make frequent stops every half hour due to my persistent need for bathroom breaks despite thinking I had emptied my bladder. Another challenge I faced with this problem is during flights, where I've consistently occupied an aisle seat for over a decade.

While it's possible that travel played a role in compromising my bladder and immune system over time due to factors like the stress of travel, disrupted sleep patterns, and exposure to different environments, I can't say for sure what was the main reason. 

There is no denying that travel can have various effects on your body, both positive and negative – so let’s break down the pros and cons. 

The Positive Effects of Travel

1. Cognitive Benefits

Traveling can be a stimulating mental exercise. Numerous articles have credited the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, that engaging with different cultures and environments enhances cognitive flexibility and creativity. 

Travel and food writer Helena from told me, "Just positive stuff happens, especially for my psyche." Travel blogger Janice Horton iterated the same, "Travel keeps the mind and sense of adventure alive." 

Imagine the thrill of deciphering foreign languages, navigating new terrains, and understanding diverse customs, all of which stimulate your brain and keep it agile.

2. Stress Reduction & Healing the Body

Contrary to the stress-inducing aspects of travel, exploring new destinations can also be a powerful stress reliever. A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that travel can lower cortisol levels and reduce stress. Picture yourself in a peaceful seaside, listening to the soothing sound of waves crashing against the shore or trekking through lush green forests where the serenity of nature calms your racing mind.

It can also help heal parts of your body if you are in a warm climate; as travel content marketing writer Georgie Darling explained, "Travel might actually benefit my body physically. I’m from the U.K. and have nerve/disc damage in my lower back. It’s significantly less painful when I’m in a warm country (which I have been since 2019) than when I’m back home!" 

Travel can empower people with physical disabilities, as photographer David explained about his condition to me. "Guess it depends on the travel and what you do. If I go away, I return to rest, as I do 15+ miles a day when away, as opposed to 4-5 miles daily at home. For me, daily exercise manages my disabilities better than no exercise, but again, that depends on the person. Plane travel is incredibly painful for me. But I still look at my Canada pictures with great memories that I will never regret. If the memories outweigh the pain(s), it was all worth it."

3. Enhanced Cultural Awareness & Exuberance

Traveling exposes you to different cultures and perspectives, fostering empathy and cultural awareness. Statistics from the World Tourism Organization show that travelers believe their experiences have made them more open-minded and tolerant.

I can relate to this as you can imagine the world as a tapestry of diverse customs and traditions and how this exposure has broadened my horizons and enabled global understanding, and it can be for you. 

Renowned travel expert Mariellen Ward also added, "I’m like the Baron Munchausen. I get younger when I go traveling and have adventures! I just have to pace myself now that I’m 62. I don’t have as much energy, but I love exploring different cultures."

The Detrimental Effects of Travel

1. Long-Haul Flights & Jet Lag

Although I don't suffer from it as much as I used to, unless, for some reason, I'm heading east, one of the most widely acknowledged drawbacks of frequent travel is the dreaded jet lag. According to a study conducted by the Sleep Research Society on 1,404 Japanese working population aged 18-78, results showed a greater risk of increased likelihood of depressive symptoms as a result of jet lag. However, evidence linking depressive symptoms to jet lag was lacking. 

Jet lag, I know first hand, does disrupt your circadian rhythm, which is the mental, physical, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle, causing fatigue, irritability and perhaps insomnia for many others. If you have never experienced jet lag, imagine being in a state of perpetual disorientation as your body struggles to adapt to different time zones, disrupting your sleep patterns and overall well-being.

Long-haul flights can pose more severe health issues due to extended sitting, as I found out from the founder & CEO of the travel agency Wandevo, Rebekah Torres. "I’ve had Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT & blood clots) and two pulmonary embolisms from a long flight. I’m on blood thinners for the rest of my days. My breathing never normalized after the pulmonary embolisms." However, Torres also told me that none of her health issues have stopped her from traveling.

There are ways travelers can manage these challenges with proper preparation and self-care before boarding a long flying journey to reduce the risk. I would say it’s trial and error, but seek medical advice if you do have concerns.

2. Stress Levels

Traveling, as I have stated, can help to relieve stress, but statistics and studies from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers also reveal frequent travelers are more susceptible to high stress. I am quite a chilled-out individual, but with all the traveling, you would think I would be used to the rigmarole of the constant hustle and bustle of airports, security checks, and long flights. It can take a toll on your mental health – especially if your home airport is Manchester Airport. 

In my opinion, they are one of the worst airports currently operating for creating unwanted stress for passengers – I got in touch with the head of operations about the unwanted stress they cause – but they declined to comment.

3. Immune System Weakening

A study published in the American Psychological Association suggests that frequent travelers may experience a decline in their immune system's performance. As I previously stated, I'm unsure if my bladder problems are related to my frequent travel; however, exposure to new environments and various pathogens could have increased the risk of the illness. Picture yourself in crowded airplanes or bustling foreign markets, where you're exposed to numerous germs and viruses that your immune system must constantly battle. 

I would have thought that would strengthen your immune system; as I've always said, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. However, as Brianne Miers mentioned earlier, she developed G.I. from all the germs and viruses she picked up. Miers also did tell me that Covid emerging allowed her body to heal, along with Eastern and Western medical practices, with fundamental changes in her life helping her heal. Only time will tell for someone like Brianne Miers if the re-introduction of frequent travel re-aggravates her problems. 

Is Travel Good For You or Not?

In the debate over whether frequent travel has a detrimental effect on your body, the answer is not black and white. There are undeniable challenges, such as jet lag, stress, weakened immune systems, and various other factors that I haven’t covered, but there are also profound benefits, including cognitive enrichment, stress reduction, and cultural awareness.

Dr. Hana Patel, a G.P. specialist in mental health and a G.P. Expert Witness, told me, "Actually, a recent study finds people who travel have better health than people who do not travel. Not traveling can lead to social isolation and mental and physical health issues."

Ultimately, how travel impacts your body depends on how you approach it. Individual experiences may vary, and some people may not face or have never faced the adverse effects mentioned by myself and some of the experts in my findings. I, for one credit, travel for the man I am today – my experiences and journeys have entirely changed my perspective on life – especially the friends I've made from my time on the road. All the wear and tear that has come along with it has been totally worth it for me.  

Whether it's the exhilaration of standing atop Machu Picchu or the tranquillity of a Mexican beach, travel has the power to transform, inspire, and enrich your life. So, pack your bags and embark on your next adventure, knowing that while travel may come with challenges, the rewards are often worth every mile traveled.


Travel is often seen as a source of adventure, relaxation, and personal growth. Whether it's a weekend getaway or a year-long expedition, the allure of exploring new places and experiencing different cultures is undeniable. However, the question is: Does travel have a detrimental effect on your body?