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When Travel Becomes Escapism

Travel is an absolutely beautiful thing. It provides a necessary escape from the daily grind, allows you to see a world completely alien to your own, and to get away from everything you know. It’s a truly euphoric sensation and people travel frequently, with good reason.

I wholeheartedly encourage everyone in the world to travel as much as possible, no matter what reason or what circumstances. It’s so important that we become educated on what’s around us. Even better, it even has quite a few mental health benefits! Travel’s significantly reduced my anxiety and brought me out of a depressive stage or two. 

But, with any seemingly perfect and healthy escape, it can turn ugly. When your trips become compulsive, addictive, and you become dependent on them to solve your problems, is when the line crosses and travel becomes escapism.

I’m writing this post because I’ve had a pretty bad week, plain and simple. One thing that made this week less than ideal was the fact that I don’t like what I’m studying at university at all, and it’s super hard to switch. This is fancy talk for the ever-famous *~student existential crisis!~* As I was lying in bed reflecting on my future trying not to freak out, I just kept saying to myself, “thank God I’m going out of town this week.” Sounds harmless right?

While this sentence, in the right context, is completely okay, in my situation I was looking forward to heading overseas to escape the millionth existential crisis I’ve had in university. After I uttered those ten words seemingly out of desperation, I had to take a step back and reflect. With the world at my pedestal, do I travel out of the pure love of it? Or do I travel excessively to escape whatever brooding thoughts swarmed my brain? Perhaps, in the context of this specific week, a little bit of both, and it’s completely natural for people to want to escape whatever negativity they’re surrounded by. But when people rely on this escapism to completely deny their current situation is where anything, or in this case, travel, stops becoming beneficial and starts becoming harmful.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way, though. I remember after my Japan trip, the urge to return became way stronger (like that was even possible) whenever I felt vulnerable or lonely. I felt like if I just escaped to  my little wonderland, to my dream spot, everything would be okay. But that’s simply not the case. Everyone needs to escape, and sometimes just getting out of town is something you need to feel rejuvenated, I know I do. I’m looking forward to this trip not to escape any sort of existential dread (anymore!), but because uni is tiring me and I just need a quick refresh.

The urge to travel always hits you most when you’re down, and that’s okay. What matters though, is how you handle it. Are you going to impulse-book something as a means of self-medicating? Or are you going to handle it in a more sufficient (and hell of a lot cheaper) manner? Lemme tell you, after the third or fourth escape trip, the positive effects wane and it won’t be fun anymore; you’ll just have this negative cloud hovering over you as you wonder why your depression trip to LA lacks the usual travel magic. Sometimes you just need it to escape and reflect or start over. But if you come back, these issues persist, and you get in a cycle, is when this becomes problematic 

I don’t think I travel out of escapism. I don’t, and will never believe that travel will solve all my problems. If I’m going somewhere after a rough week, it’s often an afterthought. Before I even knew what an existential crisis was, I’ve longed to see the seas and become a vagabond of this physical earth. However, now that I’m older, I’ve become both a wanderer of the world and my mind, constantly searching for my purpose on this planet. It’s so, so, so important to balance the two.

I also write this post because  I’ve fallen victim to the “grass is greener on the other side” narrative when moving quite a few times, and I’m working on it. But I want you, the readers, to know that travel is eye-opening. Traveling should be glorified. But, it shouldn’t be idolised. Just as there’s a time to travel, there’s a time to stay put. Surprisingly, staying put can be just as beneficial as travel, because it forces you to deal with your issues head-on. It’s like procrastinating an essay (which I’m doing right now). You can push it back and push it back, but whatever you’re going through isn’t going to go away unless you tackle it head-on. And when you do, you’ll be so much stronger, so much wiser, and you’ll be happy that you didn’t buy a flight (or whatever your vice is) out of a panic attack to try and escape. And best of all, when you travel again after it all, the magic will come back stronger than ever.

Cheers,

Elijah

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Comments (2)

  • GiGi Eats 8 months ago Reply

    I absolutely adore travel too. It’s a wonderful way to expand your horizons and learn new things but also, if you travel with a companion, you learn new things about them too because there is something about being outside of your comfort zone that makes you see a different side of someone else. You know what else travel does?! It tends to either make you appreciate your home far more than you do upon return, orrrrrr it could do the exact opposite and make you hate it and want to move, haha! For me, as much as I adore travel, I tend to get VERY HAPPY when I go home, because home is truly where the heart is for me.

    Elijah Rodriguez 8 months ago Reply

    I definitely agree about it making me appreciate home! I just got home a few hours ago after 2 weeks in Southeast Asia (hence my late reply) and as much as I adored it, I was definitely ready to come home. 🙂

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