Hope For The Journey

Travel as a

Four Benefits of Stepping Outside Your World

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

– Saint Augustine

How Are Travel and Mindfulness Related?


I was 30 years old when I took my first solo trip. It was January 2017 and I was still grieving the death of my father and processing the end of my twenties, both of which happened less than two weeks apart. By that time, I had done my fair share of traveling. As a child and into my early twenties, I had taken family trips to Mexico, Italy, Chile, and various states. But I had never attempted a trip by myself and the idea was daunting, to say the least.

I refer to the entire year after my father’s passing as my pilgrimage year. Not only did I kick it off with a self-planned solo trip out of the country, I ended up finding a new job and relocating from Texas to Boston, during which time I also squeezed in a drive to Canada with my dog Finley as co-captain. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my first venture into the wide, waiting world in 2017 started a remarkable healing process inside me.

Travel itself is a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness has been proven to help with a number of mental health issues – anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and others. It can be practiced in a variety of ways, but it always focuses on grounding oneself in the moment and paying attention to thoughts and, more importantly, choosing which ones you want to stay with. Some people achieve this through meditation, yoga, and breathing – but it’s also as easy as “mindful eating,” for example, where you pay attention to tastes and textures in order to avoid thoughtless unhealthy eating.

Here’s where the magic of travel comes in! Cut off from your daily routine, your hectic work schedule, and all familiar surroundings, something happens to you. You learn your own strength, you have your essence reflected back to you as you make your way in different cultures, and your empathy grows. What I found was empowerment, and I believe other people can find this too.

Travel as a Mindfulness Practice: Tip #1


Become Present In The Moment


One of the most grounding (and galvanizing) aspects of travel is the novelty factor – new sights, new smells, new foods and tastes, and new people to meet. In our daily lives, we so easily become numb to everything. We take our loved ones for granted, we grow tired of doing and seeing the same things. The excitement that accompanies travel contributes in its own way to mindfulness – it’s easier to stay present in the moment when there are wonders to behold. We slow down, we marvel, we want to take in every second and save them as snapshots in our mind. We want to luxuriate in warm, lapping waters. We want to be inspired by endless canyons and feats of architecture. Being present is not only the aim, it’s enjoyable. While it’s true that our troubles follow us everywhere, a daily dose of awe helps to shake us out of our brain fog as we practice being more fully in the moment.


Travel as a Mindfulness Practice: Tip #2


Build Confidence By Doing New Things


You will be astounded by what you’re capable of when you find yourself navigating unfamiliar places. When you’re suddenly dropped in the middle of a far-off place, whether it’s Colorado or Istanbul, you will face an endless array of concerns: Where do I stay? Who should I ask for help? How can I see the most sights in one day? They don’t understand a word I am saying!


Your capacity for problem solving will truly shine through. You might even push yourself beyond your comfort zone when necessity forces you to abandon your shyness or introversion. You might find out you’re an excellent communicator, or notice ways you can improve the way you connect with others. Leaning on others and asking for help are good things to practice. Especially in our culture that values individualism and self-sufficiency, it is a good reminder that we are social creatures that run on connection. Asking for help is how our species has thrived and flourished. It’s not a bad thing!



Travel as a Mindfulness Practice: Tip #3


Learn a New Way of Being


Immersing yourself in unfamiliar places, especially those with entirely different customs and social norms, is a great way to build empathy. The more we encounter human beings of different ethnicities and life experiences, the more we realize how similar we are. We begin to notice the universal truths that go beyond language or clothes or borders. You might even learn more about your own culture, as I did when I took that first solo trip to Mexico City.

In this way, we also find ourselves reflected back to us. This can be uplifting and empowering, and even uncomfortably eye-opening. I have encountered this especially in places where it is normal to speak bluntly and personally with strangers. Sometimes their comments were flattering, and other times I was cut to the core with self-realizations that weren’t so pretty. We might find ourselves confronted by our worst traits – our rigidity, our refusal to adapt, our fear of the unknown. At the same time, we can learn things that we want to take back and implement in our lives – taking more time for family, achieving a better work-life balance, valuing ourselves as people and not just as work-machines.

Travel as a Mindfulness Practice: Tip #4


Have Fun In What Feels Right For You


As I mentioned, that first “pilgrimage year” in 2017 is what started me on this path to empowerment and self-discovery. Some people walk this journey internally through spirituality, exercise, or other means. And while I certainly do love my daily workouts, I found something profoundly moving in travel that I never want to let go of.

Since 2017, I have rebuilt homes in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, climbed Pompeii in Italy, explored ancient ruins in Greece, and swam with dolphins in Honduras, to name a few adventures I have been lucky enough to go on. I’ve appreciated the polite smiles on peoples’ faces even when I butcher their language (my Greek needs some work), and have felt something magically humbling as I spoke to strangers whose homes I was helping repair.

Now, I understand travel itself is a privilege. It takes money and most of all, time. I also understand that my experience of traveling alone as a man is vastly different from what women experience when they attempt solo trips. 

Perhaps your travel is going to look different – maybe it’s with a group, or your family, or your partner. Maybe it’s to a nearby town, or a state park in your home state. Do whatever feels right and safe. The world is waiting for you.


Develop Your Mindfulness Practice in Round Rock, TX or Austin, TX

Building mindfulness skills and confidence is much easier said than done. Our team of caring therapists would be honored to support you in learning the skills to help you become in tune with your individual needs. You deserve to feel hope again and prioritize yourself. To start therapy with Hope For the Journey, please follow these simple steps:

1. Contact Hope for the Journey

2. Meet with a caring therapist

3. Start receiving the support you and your teen deserve.

Meet Our Team!

We recognize finding a therapist is HARD! That’s why we work to make getting started easy & staying in therapy to be worthwhile. Our therapists follow a proven method to help clients heal so they can feel alive and find joy.

You can learn more about our therapists here or to schedule an appointment look at our contact page today! 


Other Services Offered At Hope For The Journey

We offer a variety of services from our Round Rock and Austin therapy offices. Mental health services include therapy for anxiety and depressiondomestic violencesexual assaultPTSD, and EMDR. Our team also provides support for family members of all ages with counseling for teens and young adultschildren and tweenscouplesmen, and parents/partners. Contact us today to learn more about our team and community involvement!

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