Category Archives: Travel


hot air balloon

Above the earth in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia. What could be more magical? No stress. No sense of routine. Heightened senses in an unfamiliar reality. It’s a perfect vacation activity, but not something you can do on a four day break from work.

Vacation travel raises suspicions. Once upon a time, the average American vacation was two weeks. Now, even if one has vacation time, the average vacation is four days. In 2014 only 25 percent of American workers took all the time they were allowed, and 15 percent of Americans didn’t take any time off. Sixty-one percent of people who did take vacation worked remotely.

We are a nation of workaholics. We don’t dare take time off, or our employers will think we’re not serious about our work. Yet our lack of leisure contributes to stress, anxiety, depression, and bad eating habits.

So let’s think about good reasons to take time for a true vacation, one where we leave our environment and unplug at least part of the time.

There are plenty of good reasons to take vacation time and travel somewhere different where we may not know the language or culture, where normal routine doesn’t exist, and where our minds are free to recharge. Actual scientific studies prove that travel is beneficial for our mental, physical, and emotional health — despite the hassle involved in reaching our destination. If it’s science rather than personal preference, perhaps vacation can be justified.

Here are the scientific benefits that caught my attention:


Studies indicate that women who vacation at last twice a year have a lower risk of heart attack than those who travel only once every six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 30 percent higher risk of heart disease.

Responding to different bacteria, viruses and other foreign bodies strengthens our immune system.

Sightseeing gets us outside walking, enjoying sunshine,


Three days after taking a vacation, people reported feeling less anxious, more rested, and in a better mood.


Display of nuts at the central marketBeing in a strange place, especially if you don’t speak the language, increases cognitive flexibility

“Travel, for me, is a little bit like being in love because suddenly all your senses are at the setting marked ‘on’. Suddenly, you’re alert to the secret patterns of the world.”    —Pico Iyer, Essayist and Novelist


Flower Stall, Turkey

When we see something familiar, like a flower stall, and interact with vendors, we see something mundane with new eyes and understand that people have the same basic needs and relationships. People are not foreign. They are human.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

           —Marcel Proust 1871-1922, French novelist



“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”   —Lin Yutang 1895-1976, Chinese writer

Or as Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz:

“There’s no place like home.”

This is especially true when you return with new insights, renewed creativity, and memories to last a lifetime. So next time you think you don’t have time to take a two week vacation, think again. Do you have time not to? There are many variables in the answer, and even staycations provide refreshment. But once in awhile . . .


Photos by Author from a vacation to Turkey.

“By the Numbers: The American Vacation.” CBS News. Aug. 3, 2014.

Larry Alton. “5 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad.” NBC News. May 19, 2017.

Helen Nichols. “25 Science Backed Benefits of Travel.” Well-Being Secrets.

Greg Rodgers. “Why Travel?” Trip Savvy. Feb. 11, 2018.

Packing and Travel Hacks

It’s the end of April. Rain is streaming down my windows. I’m thinking about summer holidays — the kind that require a passport or at least an airline ticket. Although I know I’ll enjoy my destination, there are two things I dread: making the travel arrangements and packing. Travel arrangements are fairly straightforward. Packing is… Continue Reading


Zhujiajiao is slightly less than thirty miles from Shanghai, but it feels worlds away. The village is a typical water town established under the Ming Dynasty. Once a mercantile center for textiles and rice, Zhujiajiao now welcomes tourists to its canals and traditional shopping area.   Typical activities are strolling along the half mile Great… Continue Reading

From Ancient Han to Bustling Shanghai

Before leaving Shaanxi Province for Shanghai, our tour group stopped at the Yangling Museum, also known as the Yang Mausoleum of Han. The occupants are Emperor Jing, the fourth emperor of the western Han, and his Empress Wang. The Han Dynasty followed Qin Shih Huang. This museum is unusual, because in order to protect the… Continue Reading

Terra-Cotta Warriors at Xi’an

In March 1974 peasants from Xiyang Village were sinking a well in an area south of their village. At the depth of 4.5 meters they encountered shards of pottery, bronze triggers and arrowheads, and a brick-paved floor. They reported their discovery to the Cultural Centre of Lintong County. The archeological team identified the pottery as… Continue Reading

XI’AN: Noodles & History

Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, nestles between the Qinling Mountains to the south and the Wei River in the north. Even from the air, the area looks prosperous. Under the Tang Dynasty (618-907) Xi`an, then known as Chang-an, was one of the biggest international cities of its time, noted for its cosmopolitan population. The… Continue Reading


Once Chinese Emperors stood as the intermediaries between gods and humanity, the conduits of harmony and prosperity on earth. Twice a year the Emperor approached the gods for ritual prayer. In the spring, he prayed for a good harvest. In the fall, he expressed gratitude for the bounty received. In preparation for the rituals, the… Continue Reading

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