The Benefits of Travel

Consider a Trip to a New Destination

Travel is one of the tools that has helped me to move through grief.

I’d like to share a few insights into the benefits of travel.

Building new memories

We were meant to build new memories, especially when the old ones have become painful. I have found that when I travel to new destinations, I am immersed in new cultures and my mind becomes focused on taking in all of the new people, places, food, and experiences.

Travel can provide a respite to grief

When I am focused on new surroundings, there are more moments of joy during the day. There is less pain from the grief.

A vitamin against depression

A dear widowed friend of mine, from the Midwest, told me to take Vitamin D to help fight depressions. Studies support the value of Vitamin D in increasing serotonin, a brain hormone that supports happiness.
I tend to choose sunny warm destinations which provide me with much needed vitamin D.

After death, moments of life

While I was in Taormina, Sicily, I found many moments of life!  Here is an excerpt from my journal on one of those moment, “It is lunch time and I carry my sandwich and glass of wine to the outdoor patio and find a cushioned sofa.”

The bistro’s patio is situated directly adjacent to the narrow road, with buildings below, and the Mediterranean sea below them. The view is spectacular from my elevation. What could be better than having a panini and a glass of wine, in the sun, while overlooking the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea?

Ahhhhh! In this moment, I can “feel.” So many days go by suffused with numbness. It seems that it takes extreme experiences to help me feel again.

Revisiting Important Destinations

A few months before my husband was killed, we spent time in Scottsdale.  We heard a bagpipe player performing Amazing Grace.  I went back to relive the wonderful time I had with my husband and to hear Michael play Amazing Grace on his bagpipes.

When I look back at the photo of me standing with Michael, I smile when I see the smile on my face.  I see a moment of joy that I probably didn’t recognize at the time.

Traveling alone can be empowering

On a solo trip to Chile, I faced a mountain of issues that put me in a position to survive some uncomfortable moments.  Here are a few of the obstacles I encountered:

  • Communication Issues. From the moment I exited the plane in Santiago, Chile, I faced communication issues. Passengers had to stand in line to pay a special tax charged to travelers. At the time, I had no idea why I was standing in line.

Solution: There were people in line, who spoke English and explained to me that I must pay an entrance tax.

Lesson Learned: Check travel protocols prior to traveling to a new country.

  • I had no Chilean pesos. There was no place to exchange money at the airport.

I could not use the ATM to access funds from my bank account because I couldn’t read the screens.

Solution: It took 3 days of communicating with my international bank to gain access to funds in my account.

Lesson Learned: I should have ordered the Chilean Pesos from my bank prior to leaving the US.

  • Not speaking Chilean Spanish led to communication issues from the moment I got off of the plane and these issues continued throughout the trip. I couldn’t read the signs to find ground transportation to Valparaiso or the way back to Santiago.

The biggest issue I ran into is that I took a bus back to Santiago for my return to the US.  Unfortunately, no one on the bus spoke English and I couldn’t read the signs. I didn’t know when to get off of the bus.  I got off of the bus too soon.  I found myself in an extremely rundown neighborhood with no businesses and no taxis in sight.  There was a wide set of stairs to an underground tunnel but, I knew I couldn’t get my luggage down the steps, and I wouldn’t be able to read the signs down there.

A woman who worked part time as concierge at the hotel had written a note for me to take with me. It told the reader how much I would pay for a taxi and listed my destination of The Ritz in Santiago, because they spoke English.  She told me NOT to let anyone along the way know that I would be going to the Ritz.

Solution: I asked a man with a very beat up small car that was rusted out in many places to take me to Santiago. He replied, “NO.” It took 10 minutes of communicating strongly with him, showing him my note that was written in Chilean Spanish (which he couldn’t read) to talk him into taking me to Santiago.  However, he had no idea what the Ritz was.

As the car moved through long dark tunnels and through scary neighborhoods, I wondered if I might be kidnapped. I had to rely on this man – who yelled a lot during the trip. I have no idea what he was yelling about.

We made it to the hotel. As we drove up to the Ritz, I could see a handful of black Mercedes in the parking lot. It was a contrast to the car that I arrived in.

When the driver got out of the car, he took a deep breath and that is when I realized he was just as scared as me!  I am guessing he had never been to the big city before. He was very brave to agree to take me.

This is the only man on the trip who didn’t overcharge me for driving me to a destination.

Lesson Learned:  I should have had the hotel arrange for payment and a private taxi.

While traveling has many benefits, it proved to be one of my most valuable tools in moving me forward into my new life.

I wish you strength, moments of joy and many beautiful new memories,

Michele

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