TRAVEL THAT GIVES BACK
Head off on an adventure that's good for the soul.
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.