Need to get away? Here’s a 5-step guide to healthy escapist travel

Traveling for escapist purposes won’t solve the problems you might be dealing with, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. According to clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a little travel escapism can be a powerful coping strategy when real life feels a bit too heavy, which might be the case for a lot of us lately.

When a situation is too stressful, Manly says, travel escapism can allow the psyche to “escape” the situation mentally and emotionally in order to avoid further distress and psychological harm. Being away also gives us a moment to relax and rejuvenate. Since we are living in a pandemic, it may not be possible to travel without exposing ourselves and others to risk. The good news is that a stay-at-home vacation can also do the trick, as long as you give yourself the time and space to actually get some rest and fall into the escapist traveler’s blissful state of mind—as Manly puts it.

If you’re in need of a little reset, check out this 5-step approach to healthy escapist travel.

Step 1: Take a look at your escapist goals. Before you go, adopt an objective mindset to understand the reasons you want to travel. Is your relationship driving you mad? Do you need a break from work? Are you simply tired of the four walls of your home? Whatever it may be, it’s important to understand and appreciate your personal wants and needs.

Step 2: Face your escapist truth. Being conscious and intentional about your escapism goals will help you avoid the downsides of an escapist mentality. Manly offers this example: If you want to escape to find temporary ease from a toxic relationship, it’s likely that the same challenges will be waiting for you once you return. But if you’re wanting to escape to figure out how to get out of the relationship and create a new life, the time away could be incredibly valuable. The point is that it’s important to determine, without judgment, whether your travel escape will make a positive impact on your life or will leave you feeling more stressed in the long run.

Step 3: Do the map and the math. Once you’ve done some honest thinking, now you can go about creating your dream itinerary. Manly suggests you let your imagination run wild as you open your mind up to all the places you’d like to go, such as the plains of Africa or the fields of Tuscany. Then, let reality set, and try to make a final destination selection based on the realities of your budget, timing, and state of the world.

Step 4: Consider your entourage. As you etch out the details of your plan, imagine what the trip would be like with a variety of people or with yourself. Escapist travel can be done solo, but perhaps you’ll benefit from the company. Just make sure your travel companions are people who are willing to take the necessary COVID precautions to keep everyone safe throughout your trip.

Step 5: Tune into your goals. Before you set off on your escapist travel, tune back into your travel goals to make the most of your much-needed travel. Let’s say, for example, that you just broke up with a long-time partner and need to get away. Tune into your goal of filling your trip with a combination of rest, play, and gentle self-work. That might include journaling, or simply taking the time to process what has been. Whatever your personal situation is, setting out with a goal in mind will help you make your escapist travel as healthy and beneficial as possible.

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Need to get away? Here’s a 5-step guide to healthy escapist travel

Traveling for escapist purposes won’t solve the problems you might be dealing with, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. According to clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a little travel escapism can be a powerful coping strategy when real life feels a bit too heavy, which might be the case for a lot of us lately.

When a situation is too stressful, Manly says, travel escapism can allow the psyche to “escape” the situation mentally and emotionally in order to avoid further distress and psychological harm. Being away also gives us a moment to relax and rejuvenate. Since we are living in a pandemic, it may not be possible to travel without exposing ourselves and others to risk. The good news is that a stay-at-home vacation can also do the trick, as long as you give yourself the time and space to actually get some rest and fall into the escapist traveler’s blissful state of mind—as Manly puts it.

If you’re in need of a little reset, check out this 5-step approach to healthy escapist travel.

Step 1: Take a look at your escapist goals. Before you go, adopt an objective mindset to understand the reasons you want to travel. Is your relationship driving you mad? Do you need a break from work? Are you simply tired of the four walls of your home? Whatever it may be, it’s important to understand and appreciate your personal wants and needs.

Step 2: Face your escapist truth. Being conscious and intentional about your escapism goals will help you avoid the downsides of an escapist mentality. Manly offers this example: If you want to escape to find temporary ease from a toxic relationship, it’s likely that the same challenges will be waiting for you once you return. But if you’re wanting to escape to figure out how to get out of the relationship and create a new life, the time away could be incredibly valuable. The point is that it’s important to determine, without judgment, whether your travel escape will make a positive impact on your life or will leave you feeling more stressed in the long run.

Step 3: Do the map and the math. Once you’ve done some honest thinking, now you can go about creating your dream itinerary. Manly suggests you let your imagination run wild as you open your mind up to all the places you’d like to go, such as the plains of Africa or the fields of Tuscany. Then, let reality set, and try to make a final destination selection based on the realities of your budget, timing, and state of the world.

Step 4: Consider your entourage. As you etch out the details of your plan, imagine what the trip would be like with a variety of people or with yourself. Escapist travel can be done solo, but perhaps you’ll benefit from the company. Just make sure your travel companions are people who are willing to take the necessary COVID precautions to keep everyone safe throughout your trip.

Step 5: Tune into your goals. Before you set off on your escapist travel, tune back into your travel goals to make the most of your much-needed travel. Let’s say, for example, that you just broke up with a long-time partner and need to get away. Tune into your goal of filling your trip with a combination of rest, play, and gentle self-work. That might include journaling, or simply taking the time to process what has been. Whatever your personal situation is, setting out with a goal in mind will help you make your escapist travel as healthy and beneficial as possible.

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