Her Narrative: Travel and Mental Health

Unless you’ve experienced it, the concept can be hard to grasp. The thought of travel boosting a person’s mental well-being isn’t always accepted or understood. On the rare occasion that I explain this thought process, it’s viewed as an excuse. Let’s make one thing clear: an excuse is never necessary. Although the reasons may differ, people who travel for leisure agree, it has a positive effect on their mental health.

I’ve slightly touched on this topic in a few blog posts, but I’ve yet to dive in. Here are five ways travel heightens my mental state.

For me, travel is an escape, a physical one, but also a mental one. Of course, I can’t break free from my responsibilities entirely, but physically getting away from my demanding life significantly reduce stress levels. It creates moments to break from daily routines, explore other parts of the world, and live in the present. Travel makes me reset. I return feeling refreshed, invigorated, and my focus is better than when I departed.

I’m sure you’ve been told that money can’t buy you happiness. I regret to inform you that you were lied to. If there is one thing that makes me happy, it’s to shell out money on new experiences in new locations while eating different foods with new (and old) friends. Needless to say, I’m exhilarated while traveling. But, it’s more than that. I’ve realized that I’m satisfied before, during, and after. Anticipating my next venture brings me almost as much pleasure as the experiences themselves. My mood remains elevated for the period before and after the holiday.

Not everything can or should be studied in a classroom setting. What we’re taught isn’t always a real take of historical events. Listening to the people of a nation tell the stories of their ancestors provides a better learning experience. Travel also evicts you from your comfort zone and forces you to learn. Immersing yourself in unfamiliar cultures, being exposed to various customs and ways of life, and communicating through language barriers alter your approach to what’s thrown your way. It also teaches you about yourself, your capabilities and brings out characteristics that weren’t previously exposed. This is one of the reasons why I strongly advocate for solo travel. Solo trips have pushed me to my limits with no one to depend on but me.

Travel isn’t always getting massages on the beach. It can be challenging and put you in positions you would’ve never guessed. These learning curves educate you about life, yourself and result in increased self-confidence once you understand how to navigate.

My suppressed sense of curiosity suddenly comes to light. I anticipate each escapade and resist turning anything down out of fear. The extroverted adolescent comes to play, allowing new connections to be developed. It’s simply incomparable. Nothing makes me feel as youthful and liberated as I did in childhood the way travel does.

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