Can travel heal depression?

//Can travel heal depression?

Can travel heal depression?

Throughout my travel journey, from inception of the idea to booking the ticket and following through to now, I have had my fair share of crazy looks from people.  I’ve experienced judgement on judgement in all forms, coupled with praise.  Like all other things in life, you take the good with the bad, right?
I’ve had many the probing question that goes something like “But what about starting a family?  Don’t you want to settle down someday soon?”  Then there are the people that assume I’m some brat who’s supported entirely by my parents and never earned the money I’ve used to take me around the world.  “That’s great you’re able to do that.  Must be nice to have Daddy’s money.”  WRONG.  You people are so SO wrong, but I’m not going to waste energy arguing.
I’ve ignored the “haters” and chosen to focus on the positive- the people who have felt lost at some point, just like I did, and have found inspiration through my story.  These people reach out to me often and tell me they’re depressed or in a rut, or lost, or heartbroken, and they ask me if I’ve healed or if I’m still depressed.  The answer is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no.” I’ve learned that healing is a process that endures throughout the years, maybe even your whole life.  Once you’ve healed one thing, another thing pops up and knocks you back down again.  That’s just life- and she’s not called a bitch so often for nothing.
So “what’s my secret to bliss on the road” some of you have asked?
Through all the judgement and tough times that lead me to making the decision to leave my corporate job and the United States, the one thing that has carried me through was an agreement I made with myself.  Back in 2015 when my life reached yet another turning point, another “fork in the road.”  I was unhappy with nearly every area of my life- my body, my habits, my workload and myself overall.  I had EVERYTHING on paper and everyone thought I was doing great.  I became a great actress.
What I really had were many suicidal fantasies that kept creeping in.  I was severely depressed and beyond stuck in a rut that was so dark and stuffy, no light could get in. I was slipping up in every area of my life.
One dark day spent inside my apartment with the blinds drawn and the door locked, something snapped and I had to be honest with myself.  I looked myself in the foggy mirror of my bathroom and promised myself I’d find a way out of this rut.  I promised myself I would go find beauty in the world and a way to be happy… or a way out of life altogether.  “It’s DO or DIE time,” I thought to myself.
My one form of solace was this crazy idea that I could travel…alone.  I would find strength or die trying.  I wasn’t scared of anything hurt the world could bring me because I was already hurting so bad.  I was running out of excuses and reasons to keep going.  So I promised myself I’d find a reason to live somewhere out there in the world.  There was one last straw of willpower and I was putting it to use.  Like the book “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz told me, I needed to be impeccable to my word.  So I was, and I am.
Here I am, two and half years later still seeking, still traveling and still healing.  My word and those promises stick with me every single day- and I’m happy while I heal more and more over time.
What if everyone made themselves a promise like this and stuck to it?  I’d imagine, there’d be more healing, less crying and a lot of snort laughing as you realize how fun life can be.
I followed through and changed my life through travel because I put myself in seeker mode.  What I learned quickly was that there wasn’t just ONE reason to live or ONE form of beauty to be found out there, there were many, I just wasn’t open to it all before.
Travelers are also explorers and adventures.  Seekers and finders.  The second I got on that first flight, I joined the hopeful seekers and left the hopelessness behind.  It’s this seeking mindset that travel puts you in that heals all heart wounds and emotional punctures.  And unlike alcohol, drugs or sex, travel is a permanent healer- not just a bandaid.  You can’t “un-see” what you’ve seen once you’ve traveled.  You can’t ignore the beautiful souls you come into contact with or the millions of magical moments that feel far more than coincidence.  It’s impossible to travel and become more depressed, of this I am sure.
I believe travel is the antidote for not only depression, but for narrow-mindedness and unconsciousness.  When taken responsibly, travel can drastically change your life and your outlook forever.  So, if you’re not ready to seriously look yourself in the mirror and make some changes, you probably aren’t ready to see the world, because to see the world is to see yourself in it.  

Currently smiling in Cusco, Peru 🇵🇪

After over two years of traveling around the world I can confidently say I owe my passport almost as much as the air I breathe.  Travel saved my life, my sanity and my soul.  It scooped me up in its arms and showed me a better life.  I wish the same loving experience for everyone and am passionate about encouraging people to pursue their own “global education.”  If you have the means and can somehow make it happen, I urge you to travel somewhere far far away.  It is the best birthday, Christmas, graduation or anniversary present you could ever give yourself, I promise.
This gift I’ve given myself has blossomed into something far greater than I initially intended- revealing a new path in front of me that has given me a desire to not only live, but to live well.  So, can travel heal depression?  HELL YES.
Now, GO get out there and find some beauty in the world, okay?  We can heal and snort laugh together.  😘

By |2017-10-30T16:47:47+00:00October 30th, 2017|Dear Diary|12 Comments

About the Author:

On August 14th, 2015 I left my life in the United States behind with the intention to never look back. I had the "American Dream" and I woke up from it, to create a new reality for myself. I sought out beauty in a world that was increasingly dark for me at the time and ended up finding more than I bargained for. With only a backpack, I traveled across Europe, South East Asia and then on to Africa. With over 30 countries stamped in my passport, I've become an entirely new version of myself with a broader perspective on what it means to be a woman in today's world. My hope is that by sharing my stories and featuring women like me from around the world, we can inspire others to break down their own internal barriers and go cross a few international borders while they're at it. I truly believe travel can be healing to a troubled soul, empowering to the lost and rejuvenating for the exhausted. Perspective is everything, and I believe in the power of "going global," what about you? is a site that started out with my stories and grew into a platform for women all around the world to tell their travel tales of trials and triumph. We all believe that the more you see of the world, the better you can be as a person who inhabits it. Women encouraging other women to grow, travel, evolve- that's what SGG is all about. ---> Read my very first blog post (see "Archives" for August 2015) to learn how this all began.


  1. chloeluye October 31, 2017 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    I love this post and I’m so happy that travelling has helped you through desprssion. Thank you so much for sharing this xx

    • Heather Ditmars July 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Chloe, THANK YOU for the love and encouragement (and I apologize for not responding much sooner)! I hope all is well in your world, wherever you are. xo

  2. Jasemine-Denise November 5, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Traveling is such a life altering thing for me. I could be absolutely demolished emotionally but somehow seeing the mountains and things like that really just bring it out of me. I absolutely totally know how you feel! I’m glad that you got into traveling. Your smile is too gorgeous to be hidden!

    • Heather Ditmars July 5, 2018 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      You are so kind Jasemine! Thank you so much! It means so much to me to learn how this post has resonated with people. And you’re right! Seeing mountains and other forms of natural beauty can completely shift your perception. It’s really incredible.

  3. Third Line November 30, 2017 at 7:22 am - Reply

    This blog post relate to mines (“Living versus Existing”). You are not the only person who wants to escape the mediocre life in America. I am ready to return to Dominican Republic in March 2018 hopefully. Plus, I am planning to start an online business. I want to travel eagerly and meet lovely women overseas. I am trying to encourage other single and divorced men to do the same things I am going to do.

    • Heather Ditmars July 5, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Thank you my friend. I hope you are settled happily in D.R. now and doing wonderful.

  4. […] become somewhat of a mission of mine to show that “Hey, if I can overcome years of self-abuse and drowning in fear, you can too.  If I can go out and see the world as a single, solo woman, so […]

  5. Cam and Gone January 7, 2018 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Well written, definitely relatable. Keep it up

  6. Rosy Mathew June 13, 2018 at 4:01 am - Reply

    I loved your post. I can relate to it so much. Traveling does really help with depression. I don’t think it can completely cure our depression but it can help us cope with it. By going to different places, countries, we learn to get out of our comfort zone. There is nothing more better than that. We become more open minded when we are surrounded by different kinds of people. We learn to interact with others, be more stronger and resilient. We realize how much the world is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really is inspiring for others to rise up.

    • Heather Ditmars July 5, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Thank you Rosy! Your comment put a big smile on my face. It is so heartwarming hearing how this article has resonated with others. Maybe part of the key is simply communicating with each other and being more transparent- maybe we’ll all feel a little less alone that way, no matter where we are in the world.

  7. […] READ: “Can Travel Heal Depression?” […]

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