A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend who is struggling with depression. They asked if traveling helps, and I wasn’t sure how to answer.
Traveling is freeing; it teaches you to be independent and courageous. It separates you from real life for a little while, so it can be a needed reprieve, but it won’t fix you.
You can learn and grow while traveling—but those things are the result of what you do and who you meet while you travel, not necessarily of the traveling itself. Pushing out of your comfort zone will grow you, but it won’t fix you.
The truth is that some of the happiest times in my life—climbing hills above Florence in Italy; exploring towns in Cornwall, England; wandering the streets of sunny Geneva or the stately museums of overcast London—were also some of the saddest times. I tend to travel to run away from things.
Travel is lonely. Leaving home hurts, and then going home does. Being on the mountain might make you forget about the valley, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
So what will help? Time, support, an open mind. Traveling may give you some of these things. I learned a lot from travel, and I would never discourage anyone from it.
But it didn’t fix me. Time did.
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