When you want to push the reset button, there’s perhaps no better way than to leave the comfort of your home and travel. Going to exotic foreign places can be a terrific mechanism of personal growth that expands your mind, perspective, and resilience.
But in our tumultuous, post-pandemic world, there’s a growing trend towards a different kind of trip: nostalgic travel. Booking.com reported that 88% of people they surveyed about their 2023 travel wish list put nostalgic getaways at the top. This echoes recent research that says most middle-aged Americans long for pre-internet days when life was simpler and more carefree.
Having just followed that siren’s song to my hometown of Boston and a couple of favorite childhood summer haunts, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, I can affirm that visiting the people and places of my past was rejuvenating. But it wasn’t exactly my comfort zone, either — if we’ve learned nothing from Marty McFly, it’s that going back to the future can challenge and change you in ways you don’t expect.
Nostalgia is, by definition, bittersweet — after all, the word was first used to describe a 17th-century psychopathological disorder observed in homesick Swiss soldiers. But modern research shows that reminiscing has many positive effects, and returning to a place that brought you joy gives you a natural boost.
The unconscious mind does not know the difference between the present and the past. That means you get double the benefit from taking nostalgia trips as summer vacations, experiencing both the same original happy hormones again and those associated with enjoying a new experience.
Add reconnecting with old friends into the mix, which studies say supports better health, less stress, and greater happiness, and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for a restorative vacation. (My own research affirms hanging your oldest and dearest BFFs is a tall drink of bliss 😀.)
Take a Sentimental Journey
Travel can physically spin back the clock — studies report it helps reduce the risk of heart disease, increases immunity, decreases stress, and boosts creativity. Here are a few ways to ensure your trip transports you emotionally, too:
- Take a road trip to your favorite places to visit as a kid.
- Travel a route that revives the past and allows you to relive history (For example, I walked the Freedom Trail.)
- Go analog in a rustic cabin.
- Visit a destination you love, and tell your traveling companions what it means to you (i.e., a hike, a favorite dish at a hometown restaurant, etc.).
Whatever you do, the point is to give yourself a vacation from the day-to-day by visiting yesterday. So, enjoy the view from memory lane — it’s beautiful because it not only reminds you of where you came from but also shows you how far you’ve come.
Travel Trends: Nostalgic Travel and the Yearning for the Past (Outlook India)