A recent column by the Frugal Traveler compiled some of the most recent thinking and advice from those who study travel and travelers for a living. Researchers and thinkers at the University of Wollongong, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech look a little deeper than most of us in the quest to understand how traveling improves the quality of life. Their conclusions can be distilled to few important principles that rest on the healthy virtues of thinking positively and finding balance in your life. Here they are in a nutshell:

1) Don’t view travel purely as an escape; set out on your journey with goals for self-improvement; it’s okay to get away from it all, but the most rewarding travel also affords the chance to reflect on your shortcomings and to actively address them.

2) Don’t idealize the experience in advance; one of the most enduring lessons travelers learn is that keeping your expectations realistic is the best way to open up to daily surprises – delights abound and even disasters produce fond memories. Go abroad with your eyes wide open and in possession of unbiased information about your destination and accommodations. You can get a dose of reality by talking to friends and family who have been there before and by going to web sites you trust. We recommend AFAR, NetGlobers, and World Nomads.

3) Know what’s important to you; don’t rely on ranking schemes — they always rely on somebody else’s value system or the sentiment of a crowd. Sift through the specific comments that travelers post online until you find the observations that hit a chord. It might be the quality of light and air in a quiet locale that you are really seeking instead of a four-star restaurant.

4) Seek balance.  If your life is predictable, search out spontaneity; if it’s frantic, find serenity. Deep down we are all hankering to fill in the spaces in our lives and create a whole person. Travel is the ideal way to fill the gaps.

5) Share your experience and accomplishments. Round out your travels by recounting for friends (or even complete strangers) the goals you achieved, the surprises you’ll never forget, the balance and harmony you found.

Thanks to the Frugal Traveler for pointing the way to a mindset primed for discovery and prepared for deep appreciation.

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About The Author

Michael Hartung, editor of Healthy Travel Blog, serves as head of Product Development at HTH Worldwide. Mike is responsible for all product strategy and development for the company. Mike has over twenty years of successful product innovation to his credit. He has played a senior management role in three start-up companies and has built complex organizations in rapid growth environments. Prior to joining HTH in 2000, he served as President of U.S. Healthcare’s Workers Comp Advantage subsidiary, which he co-founded with Angelo Masciantonio. Mike has also served in senior roles at Aon Consulting, Vantage Health Partners and Managed Health Care Services. Mike earned an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Carleton College.

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