The Surprisingly Therapeutic Benefits of Taking a Trip
In our fast-paced lives, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take time for ourselves. This is especially true for trauma survivors, anyone addicted to work, and for anyone living paycheck to paycheck. Finding time, money, and energy for anything else may feel like a stretch, but oh so worth it!
What if there were a way to combine relaxation with adventure? Enter: travel. Studies have shown that there are numerous benefits to taking a break from your everyday life and exploring new places. From reducing stress and improving mental health, to gaining a new perspective and widening your social circle, travel can be a powerful tool for healing.
I was a 19 year old poor college student when I flew for the first time. My college paid for me to attend a leadership conference based on the honor society I served in. Once my foot hit the tarmac, I was hooked! You will find, the collaborators below are also hooked on traveling. Please read their stories and dream about your next trip…
As a teacher, I feel like I sometimes come out of a dark tunnel at the end of a school year. I have spent the last 9 months putting myself last. I work through sickness and unhealthy stress. I don't use my sick days because the price I pay fixing what broke is simply too high.
I give all day to little ones doing things I don't always agree with, only to go home to do the dishes and laundry on the floor. I crash hard on the weekends and give up on getting together with friends to relax. They're good to me. They understand.
But then I think. I think about those precious weeks coming my way when I can buy a ticket and leave it all behind, just for a while. That time, that travel time is so crucial for me. It lets me remember what is important to me. I recall the peace of sitting in a gallery or the freedom of walking in the summer sun through a new neighborhood that's so ready for me to explore. No longer am I a robot just going through the motions. I am a beautiful mind soaking in the joy that this world has to offer. I have found myself again.
When I travel, I challenge myself. I have repelled waterfalls and mountain biked on fjords. I've taken a dive off the bow of a boat and I have tried my hand at painting like Monet. I have laid on the beach and looked at the stars on dreamy nights and I have sat in piazzas people watching. I have come face to face with lions and elephants and I even climbed Mount Fuji. None of this would be able to bring me joy if I didn't commit myself to travel.
That commitment may be in the form of challenges to my body and my mind but it also manifests itself in the little moments. Moments like a guitarist sitting down behind me as I eat breakfast at a small café. Or walking into a centuries old church as the organist thunders the keys to the organ which fill the space with a certain kind of magic. Most of all, the joy of travel finds itself in the people you meet and the kindnesses they give.
That joy manifests in me in so many ways these days. I find myself sprinkling a little of my travels in the classroom as I bring back books about far away places and spend time exploring globes and maps. While I still give so much of my energy to the future leaders, I find that travel has given me the confidence to walk away every now and then.
I find myself investing more and more in my love for travel as I establish myself in this industry. I find that I am far more motivated to give back to myself as I study European history in a master's program that fits my needs. Travel has made me stronger. It has given me a new way to define myself. I surround myself with it and I am happy.
Alexandra Tyson is the founder of Babcia and YiaYia Travel The World. Along with her podcast partner, Terri, she has a bi-weekly show focusing on making the most of beginning travel for people who are ready to boost their confidence through adventure and exploration. With over 20 years of travel and teaching experience, Alex and Terri are launching small group tours for women starting in the Summer of 2023. With three adult kids and a super supportive husband, she juggles a lot but finds herself getting happier by the day. Visit our blog and website by clicking here!
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes; but in having new eyes,” Marcel Proust, the French writer, theorized in his novel, In Search of Lost Time (A la recherche du temps perdu). He beautifully sums
up the human need to experience new perspectives, reevaluate and reawaken.
Journeys and travel give us time away from our routines when we can take stock, adventure, experience, restore, remember, discover, create, and refresh. At the end of a trip, we are not the same person we were at the start. We have evolved, and we have developed better self-awareness.
Does it matter if we travel to the same location every time? Absolutely not. Experiences will be different. Have you ever made a big decision while on vacation? Why do you think this is? Perhaps, you have given yourself the head space to reflect away from distractions and your day-to-day schedule.
Healing journeys are individual and unique. A week in the sun relaxing by the pool might be restorative for one traveler. However, for the person sitting next to them on the plane about to embark on an intensive and lengthy physical challenge, this might seem very far removed from their idea of an exciting expedition of self-discovery.
I was given some sage advice not long ago: “When feeling stressed, think about your favorite travel memory and breathe deeply and slowly. The more you can counteract cortisol, the stress hormone, the happier your body will be.” As a result, I now enjoy frequently remembering a swimming pool in Bali! Travel memories can continue to heal long after returning from a trip.
Catherine Smith is a British-born, Pacific Northwest-based freelance writer. Her wanderlust began at an early age and continued through her university years when she studied French, followed by European Business Administration. The highlight of her degree course was spending a "year abroad". After many years in the corporate world and then a career break, Catherine decided to reignite her creative skills and study journalism with the London School of Journalism. As a keen food and wine enthusiast, Catherine tries to keep her life in balance by practicing Pilates and weight training. You can connect with Catherine on Instagram.
The Magical Power of Travel to Heal the Body and MindDo you remember what happened the last time someone said, “Let’s take a trip to name your last trip”? Did your mind immediately begin
picturing the locale, the things you would do there, the delicious foods you would eat?
How did that make you feel? Did your mood immediately improve? Did your mind start to plan what you would need to pack, how you would travel, the time frame of your journey? Did it make you happy to have something special to look forward to?
Do you see how quickly your mindset starts to shift into planning and logistics mode and your spirits start to lift? You can hardly wait to start packing and get on the road. The healing power of travel can begin even before you leave.
There are many ways travel can be therapeutic to both body and mind. It doesn’t have to be a long trip; an overnight stay or a weekend away can do wonders for your spirits. A massage, a spa day, a dip in the hot tub or a trip to a mineral spring can be relaxing and healing to body and mind. Go ahead, spoil yourself a little!
Going to a different location, whether around the corner or around the world, gets you out of your comfort zone and into a more open state where you are more observant and more present to the new sights, sounds, smells and tastes around you.
This opens your mind to new insights, new inspiration and increased creativity. It helps you reinvent yourself because you can view your life more objectively and reflect on your goals, principles and values. As you meet new people and interact with new cultures, even within your own country, you have the opportunity to reassess, and perhaps change, your views.
Simply getting away from home and work pressures, leaving behind everyday chores can relieve a mountain of stress. Studies show that it can actually lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate.
If you have emotional trauma or wounds that need to heal, time away can get you out of your past, into the present and gives you a “neutral” space in which to evaluate your situation and perhaps release negative feelings that no longer serve you. You can make plans to change your situation when you return home.
Travel also builds self-confidence, particularly if you’re traveling alone. Sometimes you must deal with a language barrier, sometimes there are travel mishaps like bags becoming lost or missed flight connections. As you deal with and overcome these challenges you increase your belief that you can handle difficulties in your life back home.
All this problem solving, getting out of your routine and experiencing new things actually rewires your brain, building new neural pathways. It lets you think about the world in new and different ways. Data show that travelers, those who take more time off from work, are actually more likely to receive raises and promotions than those who keep their noses to the grindstone, shunning vacations.
It matters where you go. Certain places have a mystique about them, a “soul” that touches you in a special way. Perhaps it is the spirit of creativity in a place like Santa Fe, New Mexico or a sense of being at home that some feel in Scotland or the haunting of lost civilizations in the Four Corners area and South America or the awareness of history in Europe. These are experiences to be savored and treasured.
Finally, you should strive to bring something of your travels home with you to incorporate into your life. Maybe you love French or Italian food. Take a cooking class on your trip and bring the recipes home. Maybe you want to learn a little of a new language. If you did yoga or exercised more on your trip, keep that up when you get back. If you took time for breakfast while away continue it, at least on weekends, after you return. In this way you can keep the healing benefits of your travels alive long after you get back.
Kathy Bales is the author of the travel blog ITravelForArt.com where she shares stories and photos of her art travels. She is also the owner of Techkat Online Marketing where she helps entrepreneurs create a profitable online presence through services like SEO, GoogleMyBusiness and GoogleMaps, Facebook and Instagram ads, ecommerce, email list building and more.
The power of wellness travel
It’s normal for our legs to give out with excitement as we hop on a plane for a summer vacay in Italy. Vacation is meant to be the time (your time) to let loose, disconnect, and relax; at
least that’s what we’ve been told. But what if you’re craving travel for a different reason? What if it has nothing to do with disconnecting, but everything to do with connecting and immersion? If you find yourself nodding yes in unison, join the team. Because believe me, I get it.
I’ve been passionate about travel since I could remember, but after sustaining a traumatic brain injury from collegiate sports, I thought I had to kiss travel goodbye. After the injury I was left with head pain, migraines, dizziness, sleep disturbances, depression, and much more. Still, this little voice inside of me persistently whispered travel was the key. But how? So I ignored it, but that little voice grew bigger. The idea of traveling terrified me. Not only would I be traveling alone, but I didn’t know how to heal my brain injury while traveling the world. Frightened I booked that one-way ticket to Spain and never looked back.
That’s when I learned about wellness traveling and the power of healing through travel. What I thought would be my year of disconnection, turned into my year of reconnection. Through the power of journaling and writing, by immersing myself in Spanish culture, and enjoying Mother’s Natures creations (aka the gorgeous landscapes of Santiago de Compostela, Spain), I found reconnection. Reconnection to myself, my body, and the power of my inner goddess. It seems as if every new Spanish friend that greeted me with two besos on the cheek, the intoxicating smell of empanadas, and the fresh air after a rainfall led me back home to my body. While there were many other factors that played a role in helping me recover after a traumatic brain injury (i.e. neurologists, physical therapy, etc.), I can never underestimate the healing power of travel and writing. It’s a perspective changer, that’s gentle and only goes as deep as you're willing to go. It’s raw, experiential based, and always leaves you wanting more.
Ciara Turner-Ewert is a wellness & travel blogger and writer. She’s visited over 30 countries and 15 national parks exploring adventure, nature, and wellness destinations around the world. As a certified wellness travel coach, Ciara helps others to use mindful travel and writing to heal and expand their own boundless energy. Her work has been featured in Essence, USA Today, Vacayou, Travel Noire, Health Digest, Shoutout LA, and more. When she's not writing for publications, you’ll find her uncovering the best outdoor adventure destinations and sharing mindfulness tips on her blog, Wellness Travel Diaries.
Note from Karen: Ciara has a free “How to Heal Through Transformative Travel Guidebook” on her blog site. I highly recommend that you check it out!
Let the healing waters flow
The waves wash my worries away.
To and fro, to and fro.
The mountain breeze reminds me to be present.
In and out, in and out.
The desert skies allow me to dream again.
Stars twinkling on and off, on and off.
Traveling has been more than a hobby to me, it has been a source of rejuvenation and healing.
It’s been a source of self-care and self-love.
It’s been a source of adventure and discovery.
The power of traveling- whether it’s to the beach 30 minutes away or to the mountains an ocean away- is like no other.
Taking the time to live in the moment and appreciate what life has to offer you- outside of the monotony of work, gym, and diet routines. I believe many of us forget that the money we make at work is meant to work for us- and why? because we get boggled down by the weights of bills, responsibilities, and comfort. But what if, instead of buying that new phone, or that new necklace, or going on that shopping spree on Amazon, you were to have enough money to go to Switzerland for a week? Or to Japan for a weekend?
What if you realized that traveling isn’t just for the rich and famous or for those that “have it together”- it’s for all of us. Traveling has healed me in ways I never knew were possible.
The travel bug first hit me when I traveled abroad for the first time to Rome, Italy. I was there for 3 months at 19 and have been traveling since. Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Colombia, Panama, Mexico… Las Vegas, Colorado, Miami, New York- the list is endless. And for those of you that feel that traveling is not possible for you- I am here to tell you that it is.
So, I encourage you to let the healing waters flow. Think out of the box. Get out of your comfort zone. And remember, your trip doesn’t have to be some exotic new country around the world- it could be down the road at the national park, or the lake, or the caverns. But I encourage you to explore.
Explore and heal
Because God’s magnificent creation, His awe-striking masterpiece that we call this earth is meant for us to appreciate.
And that is the power of traveling. That is the healing you can find in traveling.
In and out, in and out.
So go and see His magnificence.
Revel in His beauty.
Remind yourself through traveling how His love for you is unlike anything else this world can offer you.
When you look at the mountains in awestruck wonder- just remember that is how God looks at you.
And let that heal the wounds that you still feel.
Let His love heal you.
Let the healing waters flow,
In and out, in and out.
Paulina Sosa is the Founder and CEO of Latinx Voces, a social enterprise aimed at celebrating, showcasing and amplifying Latinx voices, stories, and cultures. She is also the Founder and Chair of the health branch, the Latinx Task Force, a national coalition of local, state and national organizations and agencies, focused on addressing health and economic disparities in Latinx communities during and beyond COVID-19.https://twitter.com/psosa077
Where are we going next?
To tell you I enjoy traveling doesn’t feel like a strong enough statement to capture how I really feel about exploring new places, new food, new people, and new adventures.