The international health crisis that shook the world in 2020 has proven to be one of this generation’s most significant challenges, not solely because of the impact it has had on our physical health but because it has been catastrophic to our mental health too. Both the virus itself and the resulting lockdowns have triggered notable rises in mental health statistics, with a growing concern that disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are to become more widespread.
As such, while we begin to reopen businesses and seek to encourage the economy to recover, we must also take into consideration the importance of travel. Many borders remain closed between the UK and Europe, with Brexit also impeding travel possibilities too, and while many recognise the economic value of encouraging tourism, few are considering the mental health benefits would also occur.
Before The New Normal
Prior to the new normal, European getaways had become more accessible than ever before. In 2019, 93.1 million UK residents travelled abroad for the purpose of a holiday, which became the highest figure ever recorded. Flights were famously low-cost, Airbnbs ubiquitous, and destinations well-prepared for accommodating visitors. This environment made both lengthy sojourns and weekend breaks an easy and achievable possibility, even for those wanting to travel on a budget.
Relocation was also a popular activity, with a great number of residents choosing to move abroad, following in the footsteps of popular influencers like Escape to Sicily who write extensively about finding fulfilment by exchanging London for the sun and sand of the Italian island (visit www.escapetosicily.org for more information.) These opportunities were valued for the benefits they brought to both countries and the individuals who enjoyed them.
The Cost Of Isolation
Cynical reports conclude that this culture of exploration and relaxation only helped foreign businesses to support their own economy. While this is, of course, true, it fails to mention the value it brought to the UK. Reflecting on lockdown, 35% of all respondents said they missed going on holiday. This is a substantial figure, one that only sits behind seeing family/friends and visiting restaurants/public houses. And, now, as we begin to face the deteriorating levels of national mental health, we must work hard to restore each of our most valued activities, including travelling abroad.
As a growing number of residents also begin working at home, our routines become more isolated, depriving many of even leaving the house on a daily basis, Contributing to the significant relief that a simple jaunt to Europe, much like those that seemed ubiquitous prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, can be invaluable to those who otherwise find themselves limited to four walls.
Take To The Skies
For those feeling guilty about their desire to pack a suitcase the moment they are able to do so, we would argue your defence. Travel, while often caught up in the discussion of which country benefits most financially, is seldom discussed for its contribution to mental health, which is, in the current climate, more important than ever.