A few weeks ago, I came across a post titled “Travel Won’t Fix You” in which the author shared that travel in and of itself does not heal. Using travel to escape or to provide a permanent solution to the curveballs and painful lessons that life places in our path. The author specifically mentioned the use of travel to help alleviate one’s depression.
I completely agree with this author. It is not travel, but hard work, time, and support (from people, from medication, from spiritual practices) that serves as a balm to our ache in our souls. But this topic got me thinking about the purpose of travel in my life.
Five years ago, my life felt like it fell apart. I experienced a pain that I was neither prepared for, nor equipped with the tools to handle the overwhelming darkness that consumed me. It was during this time that one of my close friends suggested that we go away. And we did. For 10 days, we travelled through Porto, Portugal and Northern Spain. Being away during this time did something for me. It did not take away the confusion, disillusionment, or even the pain of that period of my life. Like the author said–travel does not fix a person. What it did, though, was remind me of some of inner strength that I forgot that I had. It helped me to see a world outside of my own narrow and constricted world It helped me to appreciate the beauty of the moment instead of being in my own head (and heart).
Traveling did not fix me or the situation in which I found myself. But it did help me to begin rebuilding and redefining Lia. Being back in Spain that time reminded me of when I studied abroad and was left alone by the school I was at and my college professors. I knew little Spanish, but quickly realized that panicking would do me no good. I pulled some courage and resourcefulness from my toes and managed to connect with my home stay. That was the first time in my life where I felt such intense pride and confidence in myself.
Since that trip to Portugal and Spain, I have made it a priority to travel. Due to the way my bank account is set up, I tend to leave the country only once a year. After that trip, I’ve visited Costa Rica, Cuba, and this year is Greece. I use travel to remind me of my own strength and resourcefulness. I use it to remind me that there is an entire world outside of my little (but awesome) universe. I use it to test my fortitude and push me out of my comfort zone.
So while travel certainly will not heal a person, for me, it has certainly been healing. By seeing the world, I have come home to myself.