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The Travel Mentality (for those w. Post-Travel Depression)

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 13 February 2014 | Views [5968] | Comments [3]

It is as though when you are travelling, particularly when going solo, you have no expectations, status or role to uphold. It feels like you are a blank canvas in which you can recreate yourself, free from past and future bounds. You aren’t worried about who is watching you or what they are saying, comforted by the reason that they are merely strangers and, chances are you will never see them again.

It is funny to think how a particular place can alter your entire idea of self. Limitless, free and daring. But, my question is: why can’t you maintain that liberating and doubt-free feeling while you are at the comfort of your own home?

Isn’t it really you who accepts and creates your own fears, anxieties, doubts, expectations, assumptions and insecurities? Are we not on a journey everywhere we go? Even if it is just to the corner shop. And why do we so easily forget that there is no permanence in anything in this world, greatest example being our own existence. Or our physical existence.

SO, why can’t we take that leap? Why is it so much harder to let go of the ego when we are at home?

I guess we spend our whole lives manifesting who we are and what we stand for – or for better terms: creating our identity. We are driven in this direction of defining the self within most aspects of life: family, religion, school, work and relationships. We are a sister or brother, a daughter or son, a mother or father, a Catholic, a Buddhist, an atheist, a student, an employee, a friend, a foe or a lover. There is a constant pull to define ourselves and find our place in society. To make future plans and stick by them to the bitter end, even if all our spirits are crushed in the meantime. But when we travel no one seems to know anything about you, nor expect anything from you. You have nothing or no one to live up to, you are ever present. Sometimes you even leave without knowing the name of someone you’ve spent the last month with. But you can recall almost every moment you shared. Laughing about the most mundane things. In the midst of travel we are defined by our actions, our ideas, our emotions and our stories. Notably, all of these are ever-changing qualities; alike our identity.

Back to the original question! Why can’t we maintain that liberating and doubt-free feeling?

My personal, short and sweet answer: We hold onto our doubts, fears, insecurities, expectations and ego that we have created over the years. Stuck. But we need to realise that, a place is only a place. It is our idea of that place that instigates a variety of thoughts and emotions. And if only we alter our own view of home can we create paradise within arm’s-reach, forever.

We are attached to a moment frozen in time. Without realising that it was the fleeting feeling of freedom that we truly enjoyed. We associate that emotion of freedom to a place, and fall into believing that if we return to this place we will be granted with that same feeling – unaware of all the added expectations. Assumptions, plans, expectations, doubt, fear and insecurities leech onto our happiness to create a feeling of incompletion. By meditating or even just purely being aware we can free ourselves from the negativity. We can find this liberating feeling in the comfort of our own home. Every day is a new day, you are free to act as you want. Free yourself from these chains.


A current, relevant and personal example: I received an invitation to return to Fiji. On my first trip I thought it would be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience. Now I’m afraid of expecting too much, expecting the kids to remember me, to still be there, to be as inspiring as they were before BUT by acknowledging these assumptions and expectations I can free myself from them and acknowledge that every moment is fleeting and open my arms to a new experience. The children will be different, the place will be new and most of all – I’m a new and ever growing person. My values, priorities, beliefs and choices change every single day. Even though I may be returning to the same place, it is a different moment in time. A new journey and experience to be made. I'll leave it in the hands of the divine for now.

I’ve been reading this amazing book called “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh which is written as a sort of manual or guide to living in the present moment. He explains how there are two different ways of washing the dishes:

  1. To make the dishes clean
  2. To wash the dishes

This example can be likened to the intentions of our own lives and evoke further questions as:

-          Do you work to work? Or do you work to get money?

-          Do you study to study? Or do you study to get your degree?

-          Do you live to live? Or do you live to make a living?

Basically, are you living with or without any awareness?

Once you answer these questions truthfully and begin to listen and trust yourself you will realise how life really just falls into place, if you let it.

Sometimes we need to take risks, or a leap of faith to realise that there really is some divine guidance. If you don’t believe me then please try to prove me wrong, and let me know. Quit whatever you hate doing now and go in pursuit of your dreams, and if you don’t find even the smallest sign, guidance or coincidence then please come find me!


Here is a sweet quote that helps keep me in the present moment and assists me in decision-making:

A good life is when you:

 assume nothing,

do more, need less,

smile often, dream big,

 laugh a lot

and realise how blessed you are.

                                           –Unknown author


Thank you for reading,

I love you.



Bless you and your bloody gorgeous soul. You're brilliant. xxxx

  Jazz Feb 13, 2014 10:10 PM


This is great. I'm doing some research on this topic because I recently realized that my success in sales is due to a "travel mentality." Do you know others who have written about this? Why we are different when we travel, more open minded, open to going with the (divine) flow, more aware? And that this state of being allows for the most extraordinary experiences. And then how do we maintain that mentality in our every day lives? Would love to chat!

  Jess Magoch May 28, 2014 11:39 AM


Hey Jess,
thats really exciting! id love to read it or hear about it. When i wrote this i hadnt read about anyone but im currently studying anthropology and there are a few anthropologists who agree or critique this.
Some readings that we were suggested are listed here:
D’Andrea, A. (2007) Global nomads: techno and new age as transnational countercultures in Ibiza and Goa (chapter 5).
Maoz, D. (2004) ‘The conquerors and the settlers: two groups of young Israeli backpackers in India’, in G. Richards and J. Wilson (eds) The global nomad: backpacker travel in theory and practice, Clevedon: Cromwell Press.
Allon, F. and K. Anderson (2010) ‘Intimate encounters: the embodied transnationalism of backpackers and independent travellers’, Population, Space and Place 16: 11-22.
Clarke, N. (2005) ‘Detailing transnational lives of the middle: British working holiday makers In Australia’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 31(2): 307-322.
Cohen, A. (1994) Self consciousness: an alternative anthropology of identity. London: Routledge.
Korpela, M. (2006) ‘”I’m not like Indian women”: reflections of young Western women in Varanasi, India, [email protected] 9: http://research.jyu.fi/jargonia/artikkelit/jargonia9.pdf
Lozanski, K. (2010) ‘Independent travel: colonialism, liberalism and the self’, Critical Sociology 37(4): 465-482.
Noy, C. (2004) ‘This trip really changed me: backpackers’ narratives of self-change,’ Annals of Tourism Research, 31(1): 78-102.
O’Reilly, C. (2006) ‘From drifter to gap year tourist: mainstreaming backpacker travel’, Annals of Tourism Research, 33(4): 998-1017.
Smith, V. (ed.) (1989) Hosts and guests: the anthropology of tourism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Urry, J. (1990) The tourist gaze: leisure and travel in contemporary societies. London: Sage.

Ive only read a few so hopefully you can gather by the title if its what ur looking for or not.
Enjoy ur research!

  Julia May 28, 2014 12:42 PM

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