How Travel Makes You Happy…Or Does it?
Travel can be many things – fun, joyful, adventurous, exciting, relaxing, challenging, difficult, humbling, mind-altering and overwhelming. How travel makes you happy can be different for everyone and travel itself isn’t a quick fix for gaining happiness. So does travel actually make you happy?
This post is one of my many musings and this topic is one that I notice stumbles it’s way into my thoughts, quite often.
And if you are here reading this, then you are probably also wondering if travel can make you happy. You might be asking yourself, “can I get a huge dose of bliss and happiness, from becoming nomadic, wild and free, and travelling the world indefinitely?”.
I don’t think there is any solid ‘yes or no’ answer to this question. It’s dependant on you, your perception of travel, your state of mind, and your adaptability to the situations you end up in when travelling.
How Travel Makes You Happy
The excitement, anticipation and planning of a new trip or a long period of travel, can simulate happiness. However, they are just short-lived emotions such as excitement and nervousness that you’re feeling. Emotions and feelings that will soon be replaced by other long-term ones.
Travel planning is one of my favourite parts of travel and my mind loves to rush forward into the near future and think about how amazing it’ll feel when I arrive somewhere new. When that happens, my mind can set high expectations and I think that is often a mistake.
For example, one of the first parts of the world I spent a lot of time in, was Western Australia, which has some of the most stunning beaches and beautiful coastlines that go on for days. So now, when I go somewhere new – because I’m a total Beach Connessieur – I’m always expecting stunning beaches everywhere I go. And that is not always the case.
So this starts a thought process where I go check out a beach in a new location, and I catch myself feeling slightly disappointed that the beach isn’t as good as others I’ve seen. Then I feel guilty that I’m being ungrateful for the place I’m in and my privileged ability to be able to travel.
The cycle usually finishes with me reminding myself that I shouldn’t set any expectations, so then I can just be present and appreciate the place for what it is.
Travel also makes me happy when I overcome obstacles or solve a problem, using the skills I know I’ve developed because of my travel lifestyle. These might be problems I know I would have struggled to solve before I became nomadic. I always remember to compliment myself when I’ve fixed a tough problem or got myself out of a tricky situation, this builds my confidence up and helps me trust in my own abilities more.
When Sometimes Travel Doesn’t Make You Happy
Despite all that, there are times when travel often makes me feel sad, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and lonely. Again these are all just emotions that come and go, depending on my circumstances.
I become sad and empathetic when I travel to a new country and learn of their traumatic history, or of cultural differences or inequality that is encountered there, that seems so far removed from my westernised culture.
I feel anxious when I’m lodging visas, or when I’m long-term house sitting, which involves me having to move around a lot. I get overwhelmed when I have moved to a new country or place and have to learn everything from scratch again.
Or I can become frustrated when I have taken on too much freelance work or I can’t handle the additional work involved in growing my blog.
I sometimes feel depressed and lonely when I’m travelling long-term and I realise how disconnected I have become from people. From people I love and miss back home in the UK. But also when I feel disconnected to the people around me.
Because living nomadically involves moving a lot and I’m an introvert, so I sometimes find it difficult to make new friends in every new place I go to. And I can’t begin to explain how mentally exhausting it can be.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin again.
I feel excited and bouncy when I decide to visit a new country, abundant with curiosity about every aspect of exploring a new place. When I’m doing travel planning for that trip, my brain becomes keen to soak up the new information, like a sponge and I become elated knowing I can explore a whole new little piece of this incredible planet.
As the time for leaving draws closer, I become nervous with anticipation. I might experience a feeling of relief because I’ve been living somewhere for a long time and I’m itching to experience a new country.
But…I might also feel anxious if I am going back to a place, that I experienced tough times in, or has negative memories attached, that are still unresolved. Or I might experience a feeling of apprehension because I’m rapidly moving towards an unknown, new place with no idea what will await me.
Although seeing a brand new country, can also fill me full of joy, as I love to experience new places and I become open to absorb the culture, food, nature, the people and history of that place.
So you see, it’s how you perceive it. Does travel make you happy? Well, yes – it does if you go into every new trip or travel experience with excitement, openness and confidence.
And no it doesn’t if you go into every new travel experience with a narrow mind, complacency or negativity.
I try to be mindful, I try to live true to my values and design a life for myself that reflects those values. To me – that is happiness. Something I’ve designed, built up and created myself.
One of my values is freedom, in fact, it’s possibly my highest value. I make sure the life I design and build, reflects the freedom in as many areas as I can. Travel is one of my passions that represents incredible freedom.
So in my life, I guess I could say travel does make me happy – in a way – because it aligns with my freedom values.
True happiness doesn’t come from people, things, or places. It comes from building a life that aligns with your values. And being authentic, being you – no matter what the rest of the world or society wants you to be.
If travel is one of your passions, build it into your life. If freedom to travel and move or live anywhere is one of your values, design your life around what’s important to you.
If you don’t value travel, luxury worldwide trips or travel bucket lists will never make you happy. Travel isn’t a thing, it’s an adventure or an encounter of our spectacular world. If you take your life on that adventure, make sure it’s a life you are happy with.
Happiness comes from designing your life and living authentically to your own values. Never live your life for someone else or by following society’s conventional life-model. No one path is correct, your path is simply yours to create and to travel on.
Travel Happy, My Friends 🙂
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