It’s a cliché to say that travel can change your life but it’s so true. The healing power of travel transformed our guest author from a person who didn’t believe in her worth into the confident, adventurous spirit that was inside all along.
We met our guest author, Jane Clements, in Bangkok. It was a situation that we are convinced was meant to be: a previously-arranged excursion gone awry, which we salvaged in a fun-filled afternoon over drinks and a snack. Since then, we’ve followed Jane’s journey. She’s an intrepid adventurer who personifies the healing power of travel. Her story follows.
Of course, travel gives you the chance to take some great photographs and visit new places but did you know that it can also help with depression or anxiety and that it can give you confidence in yourself? This is how the healing power of travel transformed me, and I’m convinced it will do the same for you.
But before you read the rest of this article on how travel as transformation can alter you, beware – because you might find that your life is never the same again!
When I quit my job nearly five years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would still be traveling today while mentoring and helping others to use travel as transformation.
How I built up my courage to access the healing power of travel
“A person susceptible to ‘wanderlust’ is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” – Pico Iyer
I was licking my wounds and recovering from a breakdown. I had escaped from twenty-five years in an emotionally-abusive marriage and gone through the subsequent traumatic, high conflict divorce. But, my children were estranged from me and I was also being bullied at work. In short, I was a wreck and my life was a disaster.
I needed a miracle but where to start?
During my marriage, I had been conditioned to believe that I was uninteresting, boring and that I couldn’t cope on my own. Now that I actually was facing life as a newly-single person, I decided to begin a series of tests and challenges for myself. At the very least, I’d be able to see exactly how ineffectual I was. Hopefully, I thought, this would lead to beginning positive change in a small way.
When I set off for the movies for the first time by myself, I was absolutely terrified. Friends had offered to come with me but I wanted, no, I NEEDED, to see how I would cope alone.
And you know what? Going to the movies alone wasn’t half as bad as I expected it to be! Once inside I was anonymous in the dark, and walking out with the crowd nobody knew that I was there alone. Success!
Buoyed by this baby step, I pushed myself more and more. Like the good administrator that I was, I documented every part of my journey. Ultimately, my lists and notes went on to form the basis of my online mentoring program, which is called the Smash the Pumpkin Project. I now help and encourage many other people to believe in themselves using the healing power of travel.
Travel as transformation: the big step I took to jumpstart a significant life change and the little things I incorporated to during that process
As my self-belief grew, I took another huge leap: I quit my job and booked a flight to Peru.
I figured that because I was so nervous about setting out on my own, I should book a long and expensive flight – that way I would have to think twice before I could bail out and run for home.
But in Peru I discovered that if you’re the sort of person who gets nervous when you think about starting a conversation with a stranger as I was, other travelers are the best people to practice on.
A few simple questions such as ‘how long have you been here… have you found anywhere great to eat… or do you know how I can travel to the next destination?’ will act as a catalyst to any traveler that you meet and before you know it they’ll be chatting away with you and no doubt you’ll end up with a dinner invitation or you will be asked to join them for a drink.
Throughout my marriage I was led to believe that I wouldn’t be able to cope in an emergency, or indeed with life in general, without my husband. But, as every traveler discovers, travel quickly shows you that you will find your inner strength when it’s needed.
Something as basic as taking a bus in a town where you don’t know the route is as much a learning experience as is eating out in a country where you don’t speak the language.
Simple little everyday tasks that put some pressure on you will gradually build your self-belief so that if (or when) things do go wrong, and they inevitably do, you’ll know that you are capable of working through the problem and finding a solution. This is empowering!
You wouldn’t run a marathon without training beforehand, would you? Approach travel in the same way, especially if you’re feeling fragile or nervous. Make an appointment with your doctor and take professional advice regarding any medications or treatments. Then, start your training regime.
Try going to the movies by yourself like I did. Or, eat out at a restaurant that you’ve always wanted to visit. Why not smile at strangers or chat to people while waiting in line at the supermarket? Ok, so you may get some weird looks but it’s all good experience from the safety of your own neighborhood.
And if you really want travel to transform you, go solo. You’ll learn so much more about yourself and honestly, if you stay in hostels you need never be alone.
How the healing power of travel can manifest in your outlook and improve your confidence
As you travel, you’ll come into contact with people who have very different views from your own. Be open-minded and notice how you become more tolerant – or alternatively how your convictions become stronger. Maybe you’ll find yourself chatting for the very first time with somebody from a totally different background, a different religion or somebody who has a different approach to their sexuality than you. Don’t be scared. Embrace the experience, learn from it and enjoy it.
If the thought of being alone sends you into a panic, why not incorporate something that you love to do into your trip? For example, if you like to cook, why not sign up for some classes? Or, how about enrolling in salsa dance lessons? This will introduce you to like-minded people and give you a focus, leaving you less time to worry about what others might be thinking about you.
You are now traveling with a purpose and allowing the healing power of travel to work its magic on you.
“Most travel, and certainly the rewarding kind, involves depending on the kindness of strangers, putting yourself into the hands of people you don’t know and trusting them with your life.” – Paul Theroux, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
And while you are concentrating on learning new things and meeting new people, you will also be changing. You’ll find that you have periods of time which allow you the space to reflect on your past and time to consider the future while immersing yourself in the ‘now’.
How I have witnessed the healing power of travel in others
Over the years I have met countless travelers from all backgrounds and they all have a story to tell. There is often a deeply personal reason why they are traveling. Some approach travel with a purpose, setting out to discover new things about themselves. Others who initially believe that they are running away soon discover that they, too, are on a learning curve. Their travel is transforming them.
It’s fair to say that nearly all of the people that I have met on the road would agree with me that travel is healing and transformative. The individual journey is highly personal.
Have you discovered the healing power of travel for yourself yet? We would love to know how travel has changed you, or, if you are nervous to take that first step, reply in the comments below and tell us what’s holding you back.
Bio: Jane Clements (writing as Scarlet Jones Travels) draws on a wealth of personal experience and mentors people who want to make changes to their lives. Whether you find yourself alone and you need to build a new social network of friends, if you have problems with anxiety or depression, or you want to travel but none of your friends are free, Jane can offer a solution. Contact her for a free consultation and discover how you can learn how to feel valued, really live life and believe in yourself again. Contact Jane via www.scarletjonestravels.com