Travel therapy

2016-05-20 | Gabriella Kis

We’re used to thinking of travel as ‘fun’. But besides enjoyment and relaxation travelling also does some very serious things for us. At its deepest, psychological level, travel can assist us with our psychological wellbeing. It can – when approached the right way – play a critical role in helping us to grow into better versions of our normal selves. Travel reveals its full potential to function as a form of therapy in our lives.

But in order to have this therapeutic effect, we need to change our way of choosing the destinations. Unfortunately travel agencies cut the world up into material categories almost entirely unattuned to the needs of our souls. It will lay before us options like ’fly & drive’, inland,/abroad trips,  ‘family adventure’, outdoor fun,’ ‘culture weekends’ or ‘island hideaways’, sightseeing tours etc.

Without being any mystical meant by it, all of us are involved in one way or another on what could be termed ‘an inner journey’: that is, we’re trying to develop in particular ways. We might be searching for how to be calmer, more patient, more honest, less egoistic, more persevarant, more authentic etc. 

Ideally, where we go should help us with our attempts at these longed-for pieces of psychological development. The outer journey should assist us with the inner one. But for this to happen, we need to be clearer in our minds both what we’re searching for inside and what the outer world could conceivably deliver for us.

We need to look at the globe in a different way. Every destination we might alight upon contains within it qualities, virtues one might say, that could conceivably support some move or other on a person’s inner journey. 
We could write our psychological atlas of the world, outlining the so-called psychological virtues of places before the names of the regions, countries. Such an atlas would align destinations with their inner potential. For example there are places that could help with anxiety by changing the focus of our anxious thoughts or providing a peaceful environment. Some places might be good at reducing egoism and others might be good for helping us think more clearly about the future. 

The psychological value of one  trip is independent from its exotic nature, lenght or its cost. The developmental nature of our travels is mostly coming from their fitting with our actual mental state, our life stage. If we plan and think our travels through we will slowly becoming more conscious travellers – aware that we were on a search for places that could deliver psychological virtues like ‘calm’ or ‘perspective,’ ‘sensuality’ or ‘rigour’. Eg.: We could all agree that it can have major personality developmental effect if we go on a 3000 mile pilgrimage, we climb a big mountain or if we need to face and cope with the forces of nature. We need always to aim for locations in the outer world that can push us towards where we need to go within.

Every well planned journey will enrich us through  the many cultural, esthetical, physical, spiritual, individual and social experiences we encounter during the journey. After the inevitable shiftings of our perspective we will not be the same persons anymore. Furthermore, the journey never ends by arriving home because through processing our experiences in private or social settings makes the journey go on…