You’ve been there, I’ve been there; we’ve all been there. That moment you just feel unbelievably stuck. Stuck in a rut, stuck in a funk, or maybe even a quarter-life or mid-life crisis. And no matter what anyone says to try to get you to change your mind on the way you see things, you just can’t. Life sucks, we’re all headed towards an empty abyss of misery and there’s no way to get around it.
Or so you think.
So you’ve got tools, like therapists, long calls with best friends and your favorite yoga class.
But I’m here to offer a different alternative: travel.
Traveling literally changes our scenery, shifts our perspective and shakes us out of our routine. It’s effective for the same reason an inversion like a headstand or even Down-dog is praised by your yoga teacher- it forces you to see the world in a different way, upside down, or maybe rather right side up. It’s all relative, you’ll soon discover.
And you don’t even really have to go very far away or have a ritzy budget. In fact, the smaller the budget the better in this case.
Here’s my list of key ingredients for a travel cure to life’s crises:
1. Solo or with a best friend
Based on rather anecdotal but nonetheless trustworthy research, I’m here to tell you that there are two ways that this kind of trip can work: either totally solo, alone with your thoughts and your journal (and whoever else you meet on your trip) or with a best friend. Preferably just one best friend, maybe two. It’s really not a big group getaway type thing. Real, tried and true best-friends-forever are preferred, none of this we-met-at-a-work-party-last-year stuff.
2. Seek out discomfort
No one has ever, in the history of ever, found themselves or had a shift of perspective pool side in Cancun sipping on their third Margarita of the day. Besides being budget-friendly, there is something ultra perspective-changing about sharing a rickshaw with sweaty locals in India. For one, it gives your brain something else to dwell on, it forces you to realize that nothing is permanent: not this nuisance or discomfort you’re in, nor this life crisis of yours. Most of all, it forces you to realize just how fortunate you really are. And gratitude is one of the best antidotes to a funk.
3. Don’t plan
Yes, this is coming from me, the travel planning girl, but I do stand firmly by the fact that this is NOT the kind of trip you want to plan every millisecond of. Definitely have your accommodations picked out, figure out how you’re going to get from the airport to your bed and also how you’re going to get around. That and have a general sense of the places you kind of sort of may want to eat at, or hang out at, or maybe some experiences you’d like to check out. But try not to get detailed; instead, try to let the mood in the precise present moment rule your itinerary. And while you’re at it, it’s a good habit to adopt in general.
4. Let go of your shit
Presumably, it’s the stuff you carry around with you–anger, fear, angst, distrust, anxiety–that are causing this crisis in the first place. So as the moments and days of your adventure pass by, focus on emptying that backpack full of crud that is weighing you down. Don’t suppress it. Instead, acknowledge it, face it, and then decide it’s simply not helpful and let it go. Let it go into the river that flows by, into the ocean’s waves crashing down or into the moving clouds above you. Empty your glass so you have space to fill it with love and light.
5. Bring back a talisman
Find a talisman, your own magical good luck charm of sorts, from your travel destination that will serve as a gentle reminder of your trip and will act to bring you back to that source of changed perspective. Double points for talismans that aren’t kitschy souvenirs but that you’ll actually use- like a pair of funky Thai elephant pants you can wear to sleep, a piece of jewelry or a spice you’ll cook with.
Destinations I recommend for trips like these: Costa Rica, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Israel, Morocco and Slovenia.
Go. Don’t look back, journal about it and gather some talismans. I’m willing to bet you’ll come back to your everyday life relatively cured, calm and collected.
Also by Irina: Best DIY Natural Sunscreen Recipe
Get more like this–sign up for our newsletter for exclusive inspirational content!
Photo credit: Irina Vishnevskaya