Remember the pure, unbridled joy of playing as a child? The thrill of discovery, the laughter, the sense of adventure? Who says that has to end when we grow into adulthood? And how can travel help us embrace play in our lives? For many of us, it’s time to dust off that spirit of play and center fun again—because play isn’t just essential for children. It’s a vital, rejuvenating, and transformative experience for adults too. Here at Journeys, Play is a Core Value for our team and our business – and with good reason! Our trips are designed to explore new destinations, and we hope they also rekindle the joy of play in every traveler, offering experiences that are enriching, engaging, and, above all, fun.

The Science of Play

High angle view photo of a couple floating in the ocean while using swimming and floating devicesLeading play researcher Dr. Stuart Brown defines play as “a voluntary, joyful activity that engages us deeply and makes us feel alive.” Catherine Price, author and fun enthusiast, describes fun as activities that are enjoyable, liberating, and connected. Throughout our lives, play can make a substantial difference in our well-being.

Neuroscientific studies have shown that play lights up the brain, activating areas associated with creativity, problem-solving, and social connection. According to Dr. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist known for his research on play, engaging in play activates the brain’s reward circuitry, particularly the release of dopamine, which is our brain’s natural “feel-good” chemical. This process not only reduces stress but also enhances mood and promotes a sense of well-being (Panksepp, 1998). Additionally, research by Dr. Stuart Brown has shown that play improves brain function by enhancing neural plasticity and cognitive flexibility (Brown & Vaughan, 2009).

Why Grown-Ups Need to Play, Too

Life gets busy, and in the hustle, we often forget to play. But here’s the secret: it turns out that adults need to play just as much as kids do. As Dr. Stuart Brown aptly puts it, “The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.” This insight highlights the profound importance of play in maintaining our mental and emotional health. Here’s why:

  1. Stress Buster: Play melts away stress, reducing cortisol levels and leaving you relaxed and rejuvenated. Studies have shown that play reduces stress hormones and promotes relaxation.
  2. Brain Booster: Play sparks creativity and improves cognitive flexibility, making you a better problem solver. Engaging in playful activities has been linked to enhanced brain plasticity and cognitive functions.
  3. Mood Lifter: Endorphins released during play boost your mood and build emotional resilience. Playfulness has been shown to correlate with higher levels of positive emotions and well-being.
  4. Connection Builder: Play strengthens social bonds, making relationships more fulfilling and fun. Social play increases empathy and strengthens social connections, fostering deeper interpersonal relationships.

Young man riding on a zip line rope in an extreme adventure jungle in XiVeracruz, MexicoAll of these benefits enhance the quality of life. They also enhance the quality of travel. Approaching new environments with less stress, greater cognitive flexibility, more positivity, and a disposition to interpersonal connection increases the potential for high-quality intercultural interactions and openness to discovery. Play is enjoyable, and sets up our minds to enjoy what comes next. It even primes the pumps for possible transformation by increasing receptivity to joyful wonder.

How Journeys International Brings Play to Life

At Journeys International, we’re experts at blending adventure with play. Every trip is crafted to include elements of fun, discovery, and wonder, making sure your journey is as enjoyable as it is enriching. We also recognize that play is deeply individual, so we customize our trips to fit your unique sense of play. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Adventurous Escapades: Whether you’re trekking through the Andes, rafting in Costa Rica, or diving in the Maldives, our adventures are designed to get your heart pumping and your spirit soaring.
  2. Cultural Immersion: Dive into the playful side of different cultures. Dance at local festivals, learn traditional crafts, or join in a game of soccer with locals. It’s all about making connections and having fun.
  3. Nature’s Playground: Explore the great outdoors with activities that let you play in nature’s grand playground. From serene hikes to wildlife safaris, nature offers endless opportunities for spontaneous play.
  4. Group Adventures: Our trips often include group activities that foster a sense of community and playfulness among travelers. Whether it’s sharing stories or participating in a friendly competition, these moments create lasting memories and friendships.
  5. Customized Experiences: We know that play means different things to different people. That’s why we offer customized trips that allow you to choose activities that resonate with your personal sense of play. Whether it’s a thrilling adventure, a cultural immersion, or a serene nature experience, we tailor our trips to fit your unique interests and passions.
  6. Play for Everyone: Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, with family including children and grandchildren, with friends, or by joining a group of fellow travel-lovers, our trips are designed to bring out the playful spirit in everyone. We provide opportunities for all types of travelers to rediscover play in their own way, making every journey a delightful adventure.

Our team at Journeys International understands the profound importance of play in our lives. Whether it be in our personal lives playing with our kids or pets, in our work lives when we play little pranks or crack punny jokes, or through our own travel experiences. Through our thoughtfully designed trips, we offer a variety of ways to rediscover its joys and benefits. Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures, cultural immersion, or a serene nature experience, we invite you to explore the world with a playful heart. Embrace the opportunity to connect, laugh, and create lasting memories through the adventures we craft for you.

Let’s talk about our offerings and start planning your next playful adventure!


Panksepp, J. (1998). “Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions”. Oxford University Press.

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul”. Avery.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). “The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions”. American Psychologist.

Pellis, S. M., & Pellis, V. C. (2009). “The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience”. Oneworld Publications.