The Psychology of Travel

There is a unique part of our psychology that we experience while we are traveling, and it comes much more naturally to some people than it does to others. Being home in the midst of routine and familiarity exercises certain parts of our brain, while pulling up our roots to travel and wander exercises other parts. The non-traveler is focused on organization, efficiency, duty and comfort, while the traveler is focused on whatever moment they are in.

By stepping out of our day to day lives in order to travel, we are exploring a different side of our identities. It feels that we are pretending to be someone else for a time, which for most people, is delightful and cathartic. There are those who feel very uncomfortable travelling, as if they are betraying their responsibilities to their usual identities. Studies into human behavior reveal, however, that having the ability to move fluidly between one’s stationary identity and one’s travelling identity is a sign of good mental health and awareness.

The ability to surrendering one’s sense of control in order to embrace adventure shows strength of character and flexibility. It is a sign of strength for someone to step into the unknown of travel and embrace it rather than feel nervous because of it. Humankind evolved to be able to wander. Wandering has been a necessity throughout human history. Not only has it been a necessity, it has also been an instinct. People experience spirituality, purpose, self-discovery and personal growth while they are travelling.

People use travel and wandering as a form of escapism. It is true that people can come to depend on travel too much, to the point that the compulsion to travel becomes a type of unhealthy addiction. But a degree of escapism is simply therapeutic, and people are entitled to healthy amounts of escapism. Travel is a very healthy expression of a person’s need to escape and experience radically different things than their day to day life can offer them.

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