How Traveling Can Be Therapeutic
You know, I think Journey was on to something when they sang, “She took the midnight train going anywhere.” There’s truly something therapeutic about spontaneously leaving home and traveling to somewhere you’ve never been. Maybe you’re more familiar with other forms of therapy like retail therapy and you buy a pair of new shoes you can’t afford because the rush you get when you purchase something makes you forget your ex-best friend who posted all of your personal business on Facebook. Or maybe you look to food (mmm ice-cream) or a good gym session to cope with a tricky life situation. Well, I’m writing to tell you that there’s one more avenue of “therapy” that you need to try: travel.
Now, before you harp on me about the cost, I’m not necessarily referring to traveling out of the country; although, if you’ve got the dough, by all means book that flight to Barcelona when your fiancee dumps you for your best friend! But even just traveling to the small town you’ve always driven pass to get to the city or taking the metro to that one stop that you can’t pronounce but you recognize as being one stop before the mall will make you feel a whole lot better about what it is you’re going through!
How? Well, for one, going to a place you’ve never been before decreases your chances of running into someone you know. Essentially, you become a nobody for a couple hours, weeks, etc. (Think the opposite of the Cheers theme song: Go where nobody knows your name.) This temporary anonymity can you lead to reinvent yourself (fake names, anyone?) or to subconsciously feel as if you’re removed from your problems because your identity has expired for a little while.
Time to Think
Take that window seat, stare at the landscape streaming by, and get lost in deep thought. There’s the actual transportation or “getting there” part of travel that’s very soothing. Instead of choosing to sleep the next time you’re on a bus or airplane, take this time out to really meditate on your pending situation. Now you have time to think and put your life into perspective. They say hindsight is 20/20 and whoever they are are right! Traveling gives you the much-needed time to be alone; you can’t use your busy schedule as an excuse here.
Gain a New Experience
Gaining a new experience is the most obvious benefit. Each time we gain a new experience, we’re too busy having fun making memories to wallow in our pain. New experiences always teach us a little more about ourselves and who knows, maybe you could gain some new friends or meet a handsome stranger who you could make even more memories with.
Become More Familiar With Fear
There’s nothing more scary than going to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar country. Talk about being outside of your comfort zone! Traveling, especially abroad, can be one of the scariest things you ever do. You don’t know your way around, so you’re bound to get lost a few times. You don’t know the language that well, so you make embarrassing language fuck-ups and people say “What?” in foreign languages to you. (Read more about those here.) If you travel alone, you’ve gotta go through the hassle of making new friends all over again. It’s scary!
But, becoming friends with that fear is very important because you know what life is full of? FEAR! Life challenges you with hundreds of situations designed to bring out your fear and if you’re not careful, fear can take over. That’s why you’ve got to get to know it and become more comfortable with it, so it won’t stop you from doing great things. And more often than not, whichever situation that caused you to seek out travel therapy to begin with, was caused by fear. Now, go and kick fear’s ass!
Experience the Truth
I don’t know how true this is for other people, but whenever I travel, the truth comes out. I write more than I have in months. I’m encouraged to pursue the dreams I’ve been brushing off because I was scared. (See above.) I do things I’ve been procrastinating on. (Like starting this blog. I’m writing from Spain.) I feel the repressed emotions of heartbreak I’ve been running from. The shameful parts of my personality that I manage to hide back home run rampant. I start making conscious steps towards my future instead of hesitating as per usual. It’s like I’ve stopped running from myself.
All of my flaws greet me like old friends. They say, Why do you have such a hard time trusting other people? Why are you afraid to write like you used to? Why aren’t you more kind to yourself? Why do you care so much about what other people think?.
I’m not quite sure what causes this wave of truth to come over my life when I travel. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve already taken such a big risk by traveling to begin with, and now I feel brave enough to seek my own truth. Maybe it’s just God’s way of telling me that traveling is a part of my life’s purpose. Despite whichever reason, it’s the best part about travel therapy and one of the main reasons why I like to travel and you should, too. There’s no running from your demons here.
And it’s scary as fuck.