Healing comes in many forms, and in my life, traveling has been one of the greatest forms. In my memoir, Under The Orange Blossoms, travel as a young girl changed my perspective and gave me hope for my future.
Throughout my life, travel has and continues to bring healing. It has played such a central role in my overall health that I’m breaking it down into ten tangible takeaways.
“Travel has positively impacted my mind, body and soul in such deep ways that I believe it is a powerful tool for overall health and wellness.”
There’s something about seeing how big the world is that helps put your one experience in perspective. Experiencing the way someone lives, thinks, or acts that is different than your own is humbling. Looking inwards is needed for healing, but sometimes that healing is found by looking outwards and realizing the role we play in the larger picture of life.
This has always been a favorite aspect of traveling. Beauty is everywhere and the act of discovering it is life-giving. There’s never one sunset the same, just as there isn’t a mountain or beach that is identical. There is endless beauty to discover. As a child, I found beauty in the deserts of Iran, the snow-capped Alps, and the coastal beaches of Spain. All of these locations brought their own unique beauty to my life that brought healing on days when life’s circumstances felt overwhelming.
While I love my friends and family that I call my community, travel forces you to meet new people and build a new community. It is easy to stick to your people especially when you love them, but I’m a firm believer that there’s always room for more when it comes to friendships. Whether your travel is for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, meeting new people is integral to navigating new spaces and personal growth. Some of the deepest relationships I have made were made through my experiences traveling.
Adventure is one of the most obvious reasons for travel, and I have found it directly connected to healing. When I went through a period of my life as a teen where I contemplated suicide, I sought out adventure in every place I could find it. Adventure helped me to feel alive when other areas in my life felt they were dying. While this tactic can’t be sustained long-term, it helped push me into a space where I felt that life was worth living.
There is nothing quite like visiting a new place where you don’t know anyone, the language, or the cultural norms of everyday life. When I have found myself in these spaces, I have had to rely on myself, my intuitions, and my inner voice in a way that I would not otherwise. When we are familiar with our surroundings, much of what we do is often automated. Travel forces you out of that routine and into a place where you have to trust yourself for navigating many new experiences. Learning to trust yourself is essential for survival.
Patience is always a given with travel. From airplanes to trains, buses, and taxis, to language and cultural differences and all of the things that come between, growing in patience is naturally a byproduct of traveling. Learning to be patient with myself, others, and my circumstances have been foundational for healing and is a skill that can always be sharpened.
The pace of life at home is often too fast to maintain–at least in a healthy manner. When I was a child, travel was a big part of what made me forget my childhood abuse, but it was also reflection while abroad that led to me remembering the abuse and eventually facing it. Traveling gives separation from the normal routine and allows for space for the mind to reflect. I have found that while beautiful scenery helps me with deep reflection, just being in a new place allows my mind to quiet itself to the everyday worries and make space for reflection.
Good food is good for the soul! My mom passed down a love for good food, but the more I travel, the more I appreciate food and the role it plays in society. The smells, the process of preparing and cooking, and the way in which people gather around food are fascinating. A meal prepared for me in love has brought healing many times in life. Food has played such a large role in healing, that my memoir, Under The Orange Blossoms, was named due to the connection that orange blossoms played in my childhood.
Traveling has helped me find value in myself, my family, and my loved ones. Travel only allows for the essentials and stripping away the excess in life helps illuminate what is most valuable. This simple process has brought me healing when I have grieved what I don’t have or have lost.
Travel is liberating. It invites you to break out of the mold of life. As a young girl, my time spent abroad felt like I was living in wide open spaces–it was true freedom in every sense of the word. I could create who I wanted to be, I could act without my usual restraints, and it gave me physical space between the pain and the one who inflicted pain on me. Through travel, I have found freedom from my past freedom and for my future that I so desperately needed.
Travel has positively impacted my mind, body, and soul in such deep ways that I believe it is a powerful tool for overall health and wellness. While it isn’t the only tool that I’ve utilized for supporting my mental health, it is a tool that I have found to be so effective that I will continue to make it a priority for continued healing and well-being.
If you are looking for more tangible ways to find healing after abuse, check out this article where I share practical steps I took to keep myself and my family safe while maintaining a relationship with my father.