The Road To Healing Can Begin With A Great Escape
By Rachel George
There are few things worse than ending a relationship and losing a job you’ve always wanted within the same few weeks. But that’s where I found myself a few months ago. Important aspects of my life were changing and affecting me profoundly, and it was completely out of my control.
I wanted to do anything to take my mind off of my ex and my employment status. Something had to change: it was either my situation, my location, or both. I knew I had to get away. So I left. And somehow a two-week vacation down South turned into a two-month trip of isolation, reflection, and re-evaluation.
During various transitional life events, people are more often prompted to shake things up. We change our hair, rearrange our homes to shift the energy, or, in some cases, we travel. We develop this innate feeling of wanting to get away from the norm or to celebrate a great moment. The loss of a loved one, graduation, a new job, or even the ending of a relationship can begin a journey that you return from changed. These events can allow us to tap into an interest of discovery and independence. The impact of traveling during this time can have a negative or positive effect on healing.
Travel curator Jenn Earley noticed a trend in clients with an interest in getting away from certain “milestone events.” With her travel agency Cultured Vacations, she curates cultured, customized and affordable travel experiences for people of color. She also encourages clients to assert the reason why they are traveling, whether it is celebratory or not, positive or negative.
“It also depends on the experience. For someone grieving the loss of a loved one, traveling gives them space to grieve, reflect on their feelings without having family and friends in their ear,” Earley said. “Getting away periodically is another way for them to potentially have space to strategize for that next phase in their life or their move.”
Early said she commemorates her mother’s legacy by taking a trip each Christmas. “I’ve already done the difficult part of healing and grieving. It’s just a way of celebrating her life instead of running away from feelings, “ she says.
Many would agree, including psychologist Umieca Hankton, who said, “It’s just important to not use it as a way to escape, or else that thing will come back.”
For years, Dr. Hankton has focused her practice on soul care and self-care, as a way to pour into and nurture oneself. “[It] could be macro self-care, which can be traveling or micro self-care, which could be a massage,” she said. “It’s important if you can get away so you can reflect on the healing process and figure out what’s next for you.”
Her trips to 43 countries makes Michelle Hibbert an expert travel consultant. She taps into her clients’ needs, in regards to their wellness, by providing a customized wellness retreat to relax, rejuvenate, and reset the mind and body.
“We as a people sometimes wait until we have this big life change or something drastic happen, that’s when we decide to offer change in our lives. I just want to help people before they get there,” Hibbert said.
Therapist Bianca Hughes worked in the travel industry for ten years before becoming a psychologist. She has dealt with clients through their life events, which is why she focuses on identity, perfectionism, and people in emotionally destructive relationships, primarily women. On one hand, she’s hesitant to encourage a client to travel after a breakup or loss of a loved one, which could add more stress. Yet, her adventurous side incorporates regular breaks and vacations.
“For me, it’s more of a refresh, a restart button in regards to traveling. It could even be as simple as staying in another room in your house. Spend a weekend in a different room in the house. You have to get creative sometimes,” Hughes says.
Traveling also increases creativity, helps with problem solving, and allows time for reflection and experience.
Although it has a lot of benefits and encourages our desire to explore, travel only helps us; it doesn’t heal us. Getting away simply allows us to take a moment to see our lives from a birds-eye view to gain some often much-needed perspective. But it doesn’t erase the situations that are plaguing us. It only minimizes them for a moment.
Traveling is still a fundamental key to self-care and healing. It’s also a great way to congratulate yourself and regroup before entering a new life phase.
As for me, I came back to New York with a job and the strength to know that a relationship with that individual was not what I needed to be a part of — at least not right now. I am not yet healed, but I am definitely seeing things from a much brighter, more positive perspective.