Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.
I've heard some folks say, lately, that they don't care to travel much, just stay where they're comfortable, one or two places. When offered the opportunity to see different parts of the world, these people come up with excuses. They see it as too hard, too tiring and too far out of their comfort zone, especially when they can see places vicariously on TV. One man has a bad back but manages to keep the house and yard in tip-top shape. Another doesn't want to spend the money but buys fancy cars. Someone feels threatened by the unknown, like unfamiliar foods and smells.
I project my value system on these friends, feeling sorry about what they're missing, since I could all my world adventures as great experiential riches. I think each trip becomes an investment in who I am, making me bigger, more knowledgable and deeper in a meaningful way. It's hard to put in words but other travelers understand immediately.
Now, I have to admit that being in a chain hotel, on a beach, or on a cruise could be the same experience anywhere, so the traveling I'm talking about involves history, culture, architecture, nature, people and viewing the lifestyle elsewhere firsthand, often not on a guided tour or in addition to it. For example, running in the rundown streets full of animals and three-sided shops in SE Asia, talking with folks in city busses in the U.S. Midwest, and hiking in Transylvania between medieval villages count for me. I feel so much joy remembering these and hundreds of other adventures.
But, there is another side. My stay-close-to-home friends may feel sorry for me because I don't know the joy of fishing, skateboarding, water skiiing, deep sea diving, being married 50 years, having grandchildren (yet), cooking lasagne, etc,, etc. So maybe before I choose to stay on my high horse, I should contemplate the appreciation that each person's experience in life counts as much as that person's ability to reflect on and grow from his or her own particular life.
Published in Self Help Now: A community blog