Traveling Won't SOLVE My Problems, But It Can Help Fix Them

I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.
— Carl Sagan

It is Tuesday and I am finally at a more peaceful place than I was this time yesterday.  It happens.  You have a bad moment at work and it can totally warp your day.  Yes, I am Positive Patty on most occasions, but sometimes things happen.  So, I am on the phone and the person on the line mentions that my upcoming birthday trip (which I am SO excited for) should fix my current rut.  I quickly replied back that it is not going to SOLVE the main problem, but it can certainly help.  I was then told I should look into meditation and for a brief ten minutes after the students had gone back inside, I had some quiet time.  I do not know how productive the meditation was because the idea for this post came to fruition.  

I often hear quotes or see posts about how travelers are running away from their problems and the real world.  You can imagine the side-eye I would be giving if somebody straight up told me that to my face.  Your problems are like a shadow and for the most part, it is not going anywhere so stop trying to run.  I like traveling for the euphoria, the liberation, and the experience, however, I will say that going on a quick trip does indeed help me with my problems even if it will not solve them.  Let’s talk about why.

While there may be exceptions (as there are with everything), most people who become vagabonds, nomads, and wanderers do so because they want to experience the world, not escape problems. We are running away from office life, commuting, and weekend errands, and running toward everything the world has to offer. We (I) want to experience every culture, see every mountain, eat weird food, attend crazy festivals, meet new people, and enjoy different holidays around the world.
— Nomadic Matt

Grief & Guilt

I got my passport a little over two years ago in March of 2015.  Life came to a halt when my Pop-Pop passed after a four-year long cancer battle.  It shook me because he was always the life of the party and I wanted to continue to make him proud.  It was almost as if I was now taking him on my trips with me.  Most recently, December was a tumultuous time and within three weeks of one another I lost both my aunt and uncle who were actually married.  It was bittersweet having to leave Dallas to return home to New Jersey for an extended amount of time.  I felt like every time I was traveling home it was for something sad (a habit I seriously need to edit).  What I did know was that I needed some time to myself because I have some introverted habits.  I did not know where but I needed some peace and led me to going back to San Juan, Puerto Rico, a city I loved and cherished.

It felt off at first, being in Puerto Rico during grieving moments for my family.  I even checked to see if I could cancel / change my flight and hotel reservations, but ultimately, I would have saved more money by just taking the trip rather than canceling it.  I suppose that was a blessing in disguise. I truly needed those five days.  I didn’t party hard or hit any clubs, but I was able to aid in the smooth transition between home, vacation, and returning to work.  As all of the arrangements had been made, there was nothing left that could heal us besides time.  

As crass as it sounds, nobody in this life is ever going to “un-die”.  When it is their time, it is their time.  It hurts but we owe it to ourselves to pick ourselves up and attempt to re-establish a norm.  For me, I did it in a quiet space.  I was able to read, cry, pray, and just breathe.  I moved extremely slow throughout the city that I still felt familiar with.  And in all honesty, I felt better when I flew back to New Jersey prior to the second funeral.  I had a mind shift and was in the right place to be strong for my mother.  I knew I had made the right decision.

Related Post: San Juan, Puerto Rico: Even Better the Second Time Around

Stress & Anxiety

This… I could leave it at that, but I won’t, so let’s chat.  I don’t know if I ever have fully disclosed with you all that I’ve become prone to the occasional anxiety attack.  I can still count the amount I have had on one hand, but they have happened and I am grateful for being so in tune with my body I can sense it coming and take over.  What the hail could I be stressed about living in warm Dallas, Texas at the tender age of 27?  Stay woke.  It is a thing and we as a collective do not talk about it enough.  I recently went to an event and yet another person bragged about how they had never missed a day of work.  I was so sad for them.  I try my best not to judge but are you ever living?  Are you trying to impress “the man” with your stats or do you truly just love what you do THAT much?  I have zero shame in saying I take one mental health day a month because guess what, I NEED IT.

Now, if I felt stressed, took a vacation, came back home and continued the same routines and habits I had before, guess what, another attack is going to happen.  What will help is being able to identify my triggers, find a solution, and temporarily remove myself from the stressor to recalibrate. Unless I get blessed tomorrow, I will not become anyone’s millionaire tomorrow and I will still have to bring myself to work on Tuesday morning after vacation.  But allowing myself to escape to practice meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, and figure out a way for implementing this back home is priceless.  I’m not trying to be on prescribed pills and I outwardly admit that I need to practice self-care at home and not just on vacation (without feeling guilty) and it has taken lessons from my travels to assist me in that endeavor.

Relationship Woes

Whew… this here.  This is the reason that propelled me into traveling in the first place (good or bad).  Spring break was coming up.  The ex was getting on my nerves.  I booked a trip and said I’m out.  It was about time.  We were in a long-distance relationship and I appreciated the little time he was home in Houston.  When I tell you how much clarity I gained while being away?  It turns out I did not miss him as much as I thought I did, and as I was in the midst of applying for jobs, the thought of moving away from Houston did not seem as scary anymore.  We had been having some problems way before I even departed for the Virgin Islands, but in my case, the problem that needed to be solved was did I stay or did I leave?  Traveling -helped- me to solve the question lingering in my mind.  We know that relationships take work and a trip isn’t going to be your end-all-cure-all, but hopefully it will give you the time needed to make a decision you can sleep with at night.  Absence can and may make the heart grow fonder, but it can also lead you to an epiphany. *sips tea*

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

I love this quote because I feel like it describes me and so many others.  Even though my life may not be perfect, I enjoy it and I am grateful for it.  I do not ever want to lose my appreciation for this marvelous world and traveling helps me continue to fall in love with the world over and over again.  In case you did not know, we are humans, and not machines and we cannot always immediately push through our problems.  As long as you are willing to tame the beast that is plaguing you when you return from your trip, I say rock on and savor the moment.  I hope you get the answers you seek.  

So let’s spill the tea.  Have you ever booked a trip strictly to escape a problem?  I’m not judging you because I have done it and I have learned from it. Let’s chat!