Wait a minute! Traveling won’t make me happy? Then why in the hell are so many people getting rid of their possessions and traveling the world? Why are you, Trippin’ Momma, always talking about how travel has changed you?
These are all questions you might have when you first spot the title of this post across your social media feed or after googling how travel will make you happy. It won’t make you happy by the way.
I admit. Travel is amazing. It is life-changing. It has shaped me in ways I can’t even put into words and it will most likely do the same to you if you just give it a chance but here is one thing it won’t do. It won’t make you happy.
Don’t shoot the messenger. I can see you feverishly writing away in the comment section how wrong I am but give me a second to explain first, okay?
Travel was a way for me to heal. After leaving my emotionally abusive my marriage, I was left broken and lost. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I loved doing or what brought me joy. I was struggling with my role as a mother, friend, daughter, and sister.
The little trips my daughters and I took after my separation did spark joy. In fact, those little trips were the only thing sparking joy in our lives during those dark times.
Getting rid of our possessions and traveling the world seemed like something that we absolutely needed to do. It was an idea that we had to act on and so we did and it was absolutely life-changing. But… I discovered something over the last two years of full-time slow travel.
Those problems you try and leave behind when you travel follow you.
They follow you whether you are lost in the jungle in Puerto Rico, snowed in during a blizzard in Quebec City Canada, or driving across the mountains of Albania.
Sometimes, while we were traveling, I did forget about the pain but it always returned. The truth of the matter is that you will have to actually face your demons and you can’t just run away from them. The easiest thing to do does seem like running but trust me when I say that-does-not-work. It always catches up to you.
When the excitement of a new city and country wears off, those demons return and you will be left with the same darkness you tried to escape from time and time again.
As I sit here in Merida, Mexico right now writing this post, I feel that darkness. It hovers over me ready to envelop me in its cold relentless embrace once again.
The itch to run returns but this time I am NOT running. It is time to face it. It is time to work through it and rise above it.
Even though travel will not make you happy, I do know of four things that will absolutely make you happy. Keep on reading to find out what those four things are!
Getting rid of stuff! One of the hardest things I have ever done was getting rid of all my material possessions so we could travel the world. It was also one of the most freeing things I have ever done.
I am only now realizing how amazing it has been owning very little. That might be because I went from owning only three backpacks full of stuff to needing to furnish an 8 bedroom home. Help me!
Think about it. How often are you overwhelmed by your stuff? Do you have a ton of laundry to put away? Are you constantly digging through your purse trying to find your keys? Do you struggle to pick out what you want to wear on a daily basis? I sure as heck did.
Now, rarely ever is this a struggle for me and that it is a damn good feeling. It took me a while to figure out what does make me happy. I know that happiness is within but I couldn’t find it. It was only after we started this travel adventure that I truly started feeling happy so naturally, at first, I thought that it was due to traveling.
Nope! It was because I learned that stuff is just stuff and that I was letting my stuff own me instead of the other way around.
I was a loner. At least I thought I was. I wanted friendship but didn’t have many. In part that was due to being in an emotionally abusive marriage where I was alienated from friends and family. My husband was my best friend. He was my everything so I didn’t think I needed anyone else. I was wrong.
The truth is I could have benefited greatly from having friendships and you can too.
Human connection is medicine for the soul. We need it.
Now, we don’t just need any type of friends. We need people who are going to elevate us, inspire us, motivate us, and be there for us. You are who you surround yourself with so choose wisely. If you already have friendships but still find yourself struggling with happiness, it might be time to reevaluate those friendships.
One thing I have learned is that sometimes you just have to cut people out of your life and that is okay. Sometimes the people you need to cut out of your life are family. I get it. It is difficult but it is also necessary sometimes.
If someone is bringing you down, you have to create space from that person and instead seek out individuals who are going to add value to your life.
During our travels, one of the main things that stuck out to me was the people we met. They are the ones that truly brought us joy. Each destination was more special when we were surrounded by loving people.
Experiencing new things is a must for the path to happiness. Although travel itself didn’t make me truly happy, the experiences we had while traveling certainly did. I used to live my life in fear of trying new things. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone helped me transform into the woman I am today.
Basically, I had to get super uncomfortable. You need to seek discomfort. I was comfortable in my big ol’ house back in Texas. Giving up that house and that stuff wasn’t easy. It wasn’t comfortable. It was downright scary as hell.
Getting on that very first plane ride to Puerto Rico, hopping in the rental car, and navigating foreign roads pushed me a little past my comfort zone. Okay. It pushed me way past my comfort zone!
Gratitude! If you are ever in a funk, gratitude is a great way to get you out of the funk. Sometimes we need to just put things in perspective.
I have reflected a lot over the last two years about why I finally experienced prolonged happiness after suffering from depression for most of my life and these are the four things that contributed to my newfound joy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t experience moments of sadness and anxiety at times. I still do but it is no longer a daily thing.
I feel best when I am practicing gratitude. You should give it a try.
Start your day off with gratitude but going over all the things you are grateful for in life no matter how small they may seem.
I love to journal. I have the best days when I make time in my morning routine to write in my journal all the things I am grateful for.
Mexico is helping me rediscover all the things I love. It is forcing me to slow down and really look within. This has not been easy but it is absolutely necessary.
Keeping these four things in mind will help me manage this next phase of our lives of opening up our home to other single mom families, being on reality TV, and slowing down.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. What are some things that bring you joy?