Benefits of Travel

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It’s 6:00 AM. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Time to train. 12:00 PM - eat again. Talk to trainers and coaches. 3:00 PM - Go to class. 5:00 PM - Eat dinner. Do homework. Sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Routine; it’s something every successful athlete needs. Constantly planning out every minute of every day helps keep someone on track to where you want to go. What happens if you never get off the endless cycle of routine? 

Stepping away from your sport or your everyday pressures is sometimes necessary. If you don’t, it can be easy to burn out. Melissa Humana-Paredes, a Canadian Volleyball Olympic hopeful, says not to worry if you stray from the routine. You can do that sometimes. It’s actually good that you do occasionally stray from the monotony, that you’re still able to get what you need in and find that balance. 

“I like to take time away from the sport,” said Humana-Paredes. “Inside of the sport environment you can get very caught up, very intimate in that small world, too competitive. So you need to take time away from it and remove yourself. “

Traveling can be an outlet for athletes to step away. In competition, it is normal to travel from place to place but in that time, you don’t really get to enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Traveling doesn’t necessarily mean your training will be put on hold. Bo Hedges, Olympic gold medalist in wheelchair basketball, spends most of his time in the Toronto area. He uses travel to rejuvenate his training schedule and mind.

“I went to Australia for a couple weeks and did some training down there with a friend. They were preparing for a tournament so I went and did a few reps with them while they were getting ready,” said Hedges. He also trains all over Canada with other athletes from his Olympic team.

“We’re not always in a centralized system. Going to Montreal or Vancouver or wherever it may be just to touch base and keep that chemistry alive with a teammate is beneficial. It’s refreshing for you not always being in the same environment. We have a great facility here that we’re training at now, but in the past we didn’t have that. We needed to find ways to learn from other athletes to keep things fresh.” 

Both Hedges and Humana-Paredes found that they sometimes get caught up in their training environment and routines. They both have also found that traveling for leisure has been beneficial to them.

Traveling helps open your mind. It gets you out of the everyday cycle and out of your comfort zone. It also allows athletes to step away from the constant pressures of performance.

“To be able to just leave everything, go somewhere, and travel outside of sport is so important,” said Humana-Paredes. “To be able to travel and get off the plane without the stress and pressures of knowing you have to compete in a couple days. Just to be free and see the world is something that I’m so excited to do.”

Not only has this practice been found to be true by olympic athletes, studies have shown that taking time to travel can improve your well-being.

“Holidaytaking as a form of leisure activity and experience can help individuals to enhance their sense of happiness. This is based upon the premise that going on a vacation represents a distinct break from normal events and the experience has had a positive effect to change the respondents’ normal levels of subjective well-being.”, David Gilbert, University of Surrey, UK | Junaida Abdullah, Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Malaysia

“Although general life satisfaction on holiday is not different from everyday life satisfaction, affect balance while on vacation is significantly higher than generally observed in everyday life. Thus, tourists feel generally better on holiday compared to everyday life. Positive emotions are much more frequent than negative emotions....”, Jeroen Nawijn

Dan Jackson, AFL

Dan Jackson, AFL

Travel can also make you a more well rounded person. There may be different ways of living that give you a new perspective and lease on your life. Retired AFL player, Dan Jackson, attests to this.

"Taking some time to travel in my off-season was an important part of my mental recovery after a long, often grueling season. It gave me a much clearer perspective on how football fit into my world, but was not my world. Most of all it helped me meet and learn from some amazing people from different cultures - each of whom taught me something new and valuable."

Take the advice from other elite athletes, occasionally free yourself from the chains of routine.

Game Change was founded in 2011 to serve and enhance the athlete development needs of major professional and elite sport organizations and athletes.  Game Change specializes in customized research and assessment services, the development of applied interventions and resources designed to provide long-term positive outcomes for organizations and individual athletes.  Game Change believes strongly in sport as a catalyst for societal change and adheres to the philosophy of ‘changing the world one athlete at a time’.