Travel Trials: Do You Travel To Escape Your Problems?

February 8, 2016  |  



A few years ago, my friend Joan decided to complete her college requirements at a University in Rome. Upon landing in the gorgeous city, Joan immediately fell in love with the people, weather and food. Even better, Joan was thriving academically, something new to her since she struggled to keep her head above water at our school.

It seemed that life had handed Joan a new stack of cards and she had finally found the place where she was meant to be. As she explored the city more and began to make friends, Joan found herself enjoying late nights and the occasional date.

Since the duration of her study abroad trip was six months, Joan eventually found a steady boyfriend and their casual courtship became serious. During our occasional phone chats, Joan confided in me that she wanted to move to Rome, permanently. I was supportive of it but as I excitedly told her to go for it, I had to remind myself of Joan’s need to always live a perfect life. If life wasn’t unfolding the way she wanted, Joan would be “on to the next.”

I brought up her need to always run away from her problems at home and Joan became mad. Joan had a tremulous relationship with her parents and her dating life was always an array of confusion. Although many of her problems were nothing communication and boundaries couldn’t solve, Joan liked to up the ante on the drama and often found herself exhausted and burnt out.

Although I wanted to Joan to take a risk and eventually move to Rome because she loved it so much, I was worried that if — and when –life threw her a curve ball, she would run back home to another city and another adventure. Joan, unfortunately, was not hearing me and told me I was negative and jealous of her.

That was 2011.

Five years later, Joan and I are no longer friends and after finding an apartment in Rome to live, Joan continued to date her boyfriend who eventually moved in with her. Life was perfect until her boyfriend decided to break up with her and Joan found herself on the move to Lisbon, Portugal. The news didn’t surprise me, as our mutual friend relayed the news. Cycles always repeat themselves, especially when you never address them. The thing is, Joan isn’t unique in that way and an increasing number of traveler writers have opened up about the danger of using travel as an escape, not from the everyday run of the mill stresses we all need a vacation from from time to time, but from internal demons that eventually show up on that same flight with us, in that new apartment abroad, or in that checked baggage in customs. No one can run from themselves for forever, no matter how many stamps are in their passport.

Have you ever used travel as a way to escape your reality?

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