TRAVEL THAT GIVES BACK

Head off on an ad­ven­ture that's good for the soul.

In the Moment - - Contents -

What does travel mean to you? For some of us it’s about leav­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity be­hind, for oth­ers it’s a way of let­ting go and los­ing our in­hi­bi­tions. Some peo­ple love to start afresh, make new friends and a write a new story for them­selves. Oth­ers might not have a plan, other than to es­cape ev­ery­day life. For me, travel goes hand-in-hand with hav­ing time and space to heal. Be­ing im­mersed in a com­pletely di er­ent world to my own never fails to show me a new per­spec­tive that helps me see my own life dier­ently. Travel has been my ther­apy ever since my rst solo trip 12 years ago, when I des­per­ately needed an es­cape to re­cover from a ma­nip­u­la­tive re­la­tion­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion, 74% of us have felt too over­whelmed or un­able to cope with stress in the last year. The sur­vey also found how nearly a third of us, 32%, had ex­pe­ri­enced sui­ci­dal feel­ings or thoughts be­cause of that stress. I have been one of those 74%, but I’ve been lucky enough to nd – through travel – a way of eas­ing that feel­ing. I dis­cov­ered quickly that a big part of this ther­a­peu­tic e ect was do­ing ‘my bit’ to help as I went. As a re­sult, I be­gan search­ing for travel ex­pe­ri­ences that al­lowed me to do just that, like sup­port­ing and vis­it­ing orang­utan re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres in Bor­neo or join­ing in with beach clean-ups through­out In­done­sia.

“To travel is to pause, to press the stop but­ton for a mo­ment in or­der to re­cu­per­ate and heal,” says Karin Peeters, a psy­chother­a­pist, coach and founder of In­ner Pil­grim (www.in­ner­pil­grim.com). “It is an ex­cel­lent way to re­con­nect with your­self and to recharge your bat­ter­ies. Many of us are con­sumed with liv­ing for oth­ers – our chil­dren, par­ents, friends, bosses – and we have for­got­ten about our­selves in the process,” she ex­plains. “But it is im­por­tant to nd our own self be­fore we can healthily ex­tend our­selves to oth­ers. When we are con­nected with our own cen­tre, it is easy to be gen­er­ous with­out want­ing any­thing in re­turn. We nd our own chal­lenges are put into per­spec­tive when we open our hearts to those we help.”

I’ve found that there is a tremen­dous sense of ful lment when you are able to ‘give back’ as you travel – es­pe­cially when it is to a com­mu­nity or a cause you share a deeper a nity with. Giv­ing back can be achieved in a va­ri­ety of ways. Some trav­ellers choose to vol­un­teer through an o cial pro­gramme – where ac­com­mo­da­tion and meals are ar­ranged in ad­vance in re­turn for a fee and a com­mit­ment to work. Taking clothes or school ma­te­rial do­na­tions to re­mote vil­lages is a sim­ple and thought­ful way to help those who have lim­ited means. But it doesn’t have to be a big, ob­vi­ous ges­ture – sim­ply be­com­ing an am­bas­sador to a cause by rais­ing aware­ness can make a huge di er­ence, too.

If you’re feel­ing in­spired to give back on your own trav­els, turn the page to nd my top ve ex­pe­ri­ences.

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