At the age of twenty-six I got married and moved to Australia. Up until this point my travel experience had been mainly family car trips through the Midwest.
And when I say family car trips, I mean not just immediate family but the extended family. At any given time, there could be a set of grandparents, or aunts and uncles and cousins. Even all four of my mom’s siblings, their spouses, kids and my grandparents.
Caravanning to Colorado or Branson Missouri. Travel experiences were all of us pulling over to wait for my uncle to get a speeding ticket in Kansas City. We were a sight to see with four (or five) cars waiting for one to get a ticket then all of us merging back on to the highway. This was pre-cell phone for days so that was the only way to stay together!
Or all of us pulling over for a cousin to get sick. See many of us in the family get motion sickness, even in a car. I still to this day don’t travel anywhere without motion sickness medicine.
I could probably write an entire book on the stories that came with traveling with family. But let’s just sum it up by saying that travel was never a life goal. By the age of 18 I only wanted to visit one place – London.
So, when we were transferred to Australia and I started traveling on a regular basis it completely changed my views on travel.
It went from family outings with a bit of exploration, to immersing myself in a destination. Allowing me to learn about myself and others in ways I never could without travel.
This was especially true with my solo trips. These trips have allowed me to heal emotionally, expand my view of the world and so much more.
Now after almost 20 years of travel, I can't imagine not having this great personal growth tool. I believe we should all consider making it a regular part of our lives.
Not so sure? Here is what I have learned about why travel is a great tool for emotional healing and more!
This is hands down the biggest advantage of travel. It is also why; you don’t have to have some major round the world multi month trip to get the advantages of travel. You can change your routine in any quick trip!
When we are at home, we rarely change up what we are doing. Even when we try to be mindful about it, the changes are not major. We get up, do the same morning routine, the same work, same kid issues. Some variety here and there but not much.
When you travel to new places you are forced to switch things up. New roads to take, new foods, new beds. When we change things up, our mind starts looking at things differently. In fact, routine, and the next reason travel is great for emotional healing both use the neuroplasticity of your brain to help you see new things.
See our brains can rewire themselves when we do new things. By traveling you give your brain the stuff to alter the way it works.
All this allows you to see things from a different perspective. All of a sudden you realize you don’t like coffee first thing in the morning, or that your nighttime walk is the thing that calms you down. These small routine changes can help you explore how things can be different. And sometimes that is all you need to get moving in the right direction.
Just as travel shifts you out of your routine it also shows you a different way to live. A different way to do things. This is true not only for traveling to different countries but also within you own country.
Life in Texas is different than life in New York, which is different to life in Iowa. Just as life is different in the United States as it is to Ireland or Australia.
Many of our limiting beliefs, or agreements that we make with society is based on where we were raised. When we travel and learn new ways of being it is easier for us to challenge our beliefs. As we challenge our beliefs, we can let go of emotional pain caused by those beliefs.
Not to mention the more we learn about other people, the more compassion and empathy we have for everyone. This includes more empathy for ourselves. Making healing our personal judgements easier.
For example, I learned one of my biggest lessons on meaning of life while in Australia. The Australian approach to work and what it provided them was so different than in the US.
In the US, work is the goal. It defines us. When we are not doing it, we struggle to identify our worth. Yet in Australia it was more they worked to live. While work was important, and they did value their careers, most people that I meet worked so they could explore. Travel was more common; vacation time was more valued.
This allowed me to reevaluate exactly what I valued in life. And decide if I wanted to re-write my views on work. I could release expectations that I gave everything to my career. This was much need, as I had recently left a job that required me to be available at all times. And it was not a life or death job – just a corporate finance position!
One of the best ways to heal emotionally is to learn more about yourself. Travel gives you an amazing opportunity to learn about you!
You get to try new things, new foods, new places. Part of getting to know yourself is experience. So, the more you try things the more you know. The more you know about yourself the easier you can start to gain more insight into who you are. This leads to being able to uncover what emotional wounds you need to heal!
How does physical healing help you with your emotional healing? They are all tied together. We all have four bodies – emotional, spiritual, mental and physical. When you are stressed or out of balance in one body, it impacts all the others.
By traveling, especially a relaxing trip, you can heal your body. You decrease the amount of adrenaline running through your body (our stress hormone). This helps your body rebuild and nurture itself.
When our bodies are healthy it is easier to process emotions. Processing emotions takes extra energy, so staying healthy helps us make bigger headway.
For more on how we keep our emotions in the cells throughout our body, check out this book: Molecules of Emotion.
Travel helps you build confidence in yourself. This is especially true with solo travel. You get to show yourself that you can do it. You can make the plans, get to the airport, or dive the distance. Explore on your own, try new things on your own.
Traveling on your own makes you realize that the stuff you face every day is manageable.
It is also easier to do things out of the ordinary, remember that routine change thing! Travel allows you to explore and try stuff you normally would not.
In fact, when things are difficult, I stop myself and remind myself of what I have done while traveling.
Just a short round up for you: skydiving, walking on a glacier, walking on fire and biking all over an island by myself. Now when I am struggling at home and am ready to give up, I remind myself that if I can walk on fire, I can handle whatever I am facing.
Or if I am ready to give up on my business, I can remind myself how tired I was halfway through the bike ride but kept going. Then receiving the best payoff – the most amazing pictures!
The more confidence you have, the more you believe you can do the personal self-growth work to make a difference in your life.
Just as vacation relaxes you physically it can also help you relax mentally. Depending on your trip you can consider it one big form of meditation!
When you are in a different routine, and more relaxed, your mind can wander and work on different aspects of life. We are always processing things below the surface we don’t even realize. So, when we free up the mind it can work on those bigger issues.
When I was in Dublin, even though I was busy touring during the day, I had major breakthroughs with some emotional healing.
By just allowing myself to stop thinking about everything and just be. My mind quickly solved some problems I had been working on.
I woke up many times in the middle of the night and had amazing journaling sessions. Could have been the jet lag, but either way I came home with some great emotional healing work completed.
Let’s face it, not everyone gets to live in a place that is naturally healing for them. We all have a place that is naturally healing. Where we are restored and refreshed just by being there. Where we live can help or hinder us.
Living in a place that is not restorative for you while working on self-discovery, emotional healing and clearing out past limiting beliefs makes the work that much harder.
Without travel, I could not have done the work I have over the past few years. I have to leave, head to the ocean and restore. I can tell when I have had too much suburban time and not enough nature. My ability to cope, decreases. So, travel helps me stay where I am now.
Eventually the goal should be to get yourself to a place you love and that is restoring to you. But until then travel will help you stay replenished.
Travel is beneficial on so many levels. It helps us grow, relax, and learn. It does not have to be some amazing weeks long journey that costs tons. You can gain the benefits from short weekend drives to places you have never explored.
Try adding more travel to your life and see where it takes you!