Musings, Taboo Topics of Travel

The Courage To Travel Again After A Traumatic Trip

the courage to travel again after a traumatic trip

Yes… I’ve used the T word.

No… not that T word. The one that makes every travel blogger & enthusiast swoon and purchase the next plane ticket to anywhere.

But that serious and scary T word.

The majority of us have had amazing, enriching, uplifting, life-affirming and confidence-building travel experiences. Most of my experiences have definitely been like that. I felt extremely safe in places that others were convinced were dangerous and I’ve made lifelong friends when others feared I’d be alone.

I wandered the streets of Paris and engaged with locals in their native tongue. I did a safari in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya and I was lucky enough to see the Big 5. I travelled the Great Ocean Road with new friends from around the world and had a blast. And there are many more wonderful experiences that I’ve had while traveling.

I genuinely believe that travel has the power to educate our minds, expand our hearts, connect us to others and make us better people. And in turn, a better global society. I wouldn’t trade any of my travel experiences for the world and I’m grateful for each one.

However, not all of my experiences have been positive…

The courage to travel again after a traumatic trip

Oh, Australia. It isn’t your fault, but I couldn’t stay.

One thing that you have to know about me is that I do not use the word ‘trauma’ lightly.

I know very well the weight of that word and only use it when I’m being serious. So when I say that my recent trip in Australia was a traumatic experience for me, I mean it.

Due to some very difficult circumstances that included damaging situations and toxic people, I was experiencing severe anxiety, multiple panic attacks a day and fell into a deep depression. It wasn’t just emotional and psychological hell, but it was wrecking me physically too. I could barely sleep even 3 hours at night, my digestive system wasn’t functioning, I broke out with red, itchy acne and I was living with constant tightness in my chest and shooting pains up and down my left arm.

Going through all that, while also being 13,000 miles from home and having limited access to the support from my loved ones, made something that’s already a nightmare into a very hellish experience!

And as a result, I came home feeling very shaken up.

I’d start panicking at the mere thought of being alone, even if I was surrounded by the people that I loved. I’d wake up from vivd nightmares of being harmed by the toxic people that had been around me in Australia.

But worst of all, because this traumatic experience happened while I was abroad… I even began to get scared of travel as a whole.

Don't be fooled by my smile, I had three panic attacks that day and was exhausted.

Although I did enjoy my Great Ocean Road trip, I was also riddled with intense anxiety and multiple exhausting panic attacks.

 

Why I am I telling you all this?

Well, it’s definitely NOT to convince you to not travel or something ludicrous like that. I mean, do I really need to keep emphasising how much I think travel is amazing?

It’s also definitely NOT to convince you to not travel to Australia. I mean, come on! I get googly-eyed any time I think about Australia and I’d LOVE to go back at some point to do what I haven’t yet done.

And in all honesty, chances are that you’ll never have a traumatic trip experience, that comes anywhere near to the one that I happened to have in Australia. One that was partially caused by my own underlying mental health issues, and the severe circumstances of my specific experience that ended up exacerbating those issues. Something that can happen anywhere in the world, including at home.

But I AM telling all this to you, to make a point.

Which is…

Even if you’ve failed, been knocked to the ground or have been cut to the bone… you can always try again.

Despite having developed a bit of a fear of travel, as a result of my recent experience… I’m going to try again.

the courage to travel again after a traumatic trip

I don’t want to deny myself the chance to see more of our world’s beauty. Seeing the Twelve Apostles was incredible.

It takes a lot of courage to stand back up and try again, when you’ve been knocked to the ground.

And if I didn’t love travel as much as I do, I honestly might not have bothered.

But because I love travel so much,  I don’t want my recent negative experience to prevent me from having positive experiences in the future. I don’t want it to put me off from travel altogether.

And although I’m still in the process of healing and resolving that trauma, I now feel strong enough to try again.

And this time… I’m going to do things much differently.

  • I’m going on a yoga retreat. Yoga, in general, is great for mental health issues and healing trauma.
  • The retreat is only going to be 6 days long, as opposed to 1-2 years.
  • It’s going to be in the hills of Southern Spain, as opposed to 13,000 miles away in Australia.
  • As a result of that, I’ll have easy access to loved ones at home, as opposed to them being inaccessible due to differing time zones.
  • I know all the details concerning the experience I’ll have, as opposed to being uncertain about everything.
  • I’ll have other retreaters sharing the experience with me, as opposed to being essentially alone.

I’m deliberately and purposefully cultivating a travel experience, that will help ease me back into the travel life.

One that is according to my current needs and boundaries and that I believe will support me in my healing journey.

the courage to travel again after a traumatic trip

I can’t wait to spend a week in this region on a yoga retreat.

This is the first time that I’ll be travelling solo abroad since my traumatic experience in Australia and honestly, I’m a little bit scared.

It’s not easy to get back up and dust yourself off, after you’ve been knocked to the ground.

But what other option do I have exactly? Stay on the floor and never try anything again ever?! That doesn’t sound like a life that I’d want to live.

So here I am, plucking up the courage to travel again and not allowing myself to give up on the kind of life that I want to live. A full life where I spend my time on this earth doing the things that I love.

One of them being… Travel 🙂

Have you ever had a difficult\traumatic trip experience that shook you up and how did you gain the courage to travel again? What do you think about getting up and trying again, after something knocks you down?

Be Brave & Be Kind,

Ella x

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20 Comments

  • Reply Hung Thai September 24, 2016 at 01:41

    Hi Ella, sorry to hear about your experience. One of the best things to do to get over an episode like this is to talk about it and let it out. You’re definitely not alone. Lots of people have had bad trips, but I’m glad you’re picking yourself up to try and try again. Have fun on your yoga retreat. To experience pain is to make moments of happiness and peace that much more special. Cheers.

    • Reply Ella September 24, 2016 at 10:40

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate your support. And I love what you say about experiencing pain means that moments of happiness and peace are that much more special.. I completely agree with that and that’s one of the good things that comes out of a painful experience. Thanks for your comment, Hung 🙂

  • Reply Phil Arkwright September 24, 2016 at 13:16

    Hi again Ella!

    Great article love it!
    I can really relate to this. Although I didn’t have any mental health problems I really did have a few traumatic situations along my trip which included getting severally lost without any way to contact anyone and also getting mugged. These things really do make it hard to look forward to travelling as it’s constantly in the back of your head whether something like this will happen again.

    Hope you’re well!
    Phil Arkwright

    • Reply Ella September 27, 2016 at 11:18

      Hey Phil!
      I’m glad you liked the post but I’m sorry that you can relate to it. Having traumatic experiences while travelling really sucks.
      And I agree, I think they can make it a bit harder to want to travel in the future. But if you want to continue to pursue travel, hopefully those experiences won’t put you off completely and we can always be as prepared as possible for the chance that those kind of situations happen again. Hopefully, they won’t though 🙂
      I hope you’re well too!

  • Reply The Dame Intl December 17, 2016 at 17:46

    I had a similar experience in Australia actually, I was living with some very toxic people who I let take advantage of me and it triggered my PTSD and I remember calling my best friend in England in the middle of the night in ugly tears and she was so very worried about me. Thankfully I got out of that situation as quickly as I could and I was much better, but I eventually fell into a bad depression and went onto anti-depressants for the first time in my life. It is frightening to have to deal with those kinds of situations and reactions to them when you’re away from the people who love you. I’m glad you have grown from this and aren’t afraid to keep traveling. Big love to you darling xo
    The Dame Intl recently posted…7 Awesome Ways To Spend Christmas Home AloneMy Profile

    • Reply Ella December 19, 2016 at 13:58

      Wow, we really did have similar experiences recently, didn’t we?! It was also a living situation that was very toxic for me in Australia, where I was actually being emotionally abused by someone who I thought I could trust. I felt like an abused dog, terrified of their owner. I’m so glad that you got out of that situation asap and are doing much better now 🙂 Toxic people suck and are super dangerous, but they can also help us recognise healthy relationships and appreciate those that actually love and support us. Thanks again for commenting! xxx

  • Reply hannah January 7, 2017 at 16:02

    It’s always hard to pick yourself up and go again after a bad or scary experience. The memories hang at the back of your mind and make you more cautious and scared. But, having also had to overcome some travel fears and terrible experiences, I know I always feel braver and stronger when I can push past them and continue on. Stay strong girl xo

    • Reply Ella January 8, 2017 at 18:27

      Thank you for your lovely words! Those bad experiences can really taint the thing you love and cause you to fear it instead of crave it, can’t they? I just know that giving in to my new fears around travel wasn’t an option for me and I’m so glad that I insisted in overcoming them. And I totally agree, every time I’ve overcome a fear I ended up feeling really empowered. Thanks for commenting, Hannah!

  • Reply Eva Casey January 8, 2017 at 05:34

    Hi Ella,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with anxiety and trauma! I can most definitely relate, as I am an anxious person in general and have had a few traumatic experiences happen in life (both at home and abroad) that have occasionally made me want to retreat to my bedroom and never come out. Congratulations for getting back out there and traveling solo again! I know how hard it can be to get “back on the horse.” And I agree with you that a yoga retreat is the PERFECT way to do so! I went on a life changing retreat at the start of my solo travel journey, and I hope that it’s as amazing of an experience for you as it was for me! Sending lots of love your way on this next adventure! <3
    Eva Casey recently posted…Brave? Not me! How To Travel With AnxietyMy Profile

    • Reply Ella January 8, 2017 at 18:53

      Thank you so much for sharing with me your experiences, Eva! I love how you talk about the want to retreat to your bedroom and never come out. I’ve done that a lot in my life and definitely did in Australia too. I think people don’t realize how much energy it takes to deal with anxiety, trauma and depression and it can be very overwhelming to be around other people when dealing with these issues. But I can attest that doing a yoga retreat really WAS the perfect next trip for me. I had a FANTASTIC time and it has helped me so much. I’m glad that you also had an amazing yoga retreat experience 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply Meghan January 8, 2017 at 17:02

    Thank you for the honesty of your post. Appreciate this so much. I haven’t experienced anything to this severity, but it is so encouraging to see people who choose not to give up when faced with something terrible. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Ella January 8, 2017 at 18:58

      Thank you very much, Meghan. I really appreciate that. I think that if the only two choices are to stay on the ground or get back up, then I’ll always choose to get back up. Even if I need to rest a while to regain strength 🙂

  • Reply Cassandra January 8, 2017 at 17:11

    This was such an important read, and something that I don’t think a lot of travel bloggers talk about too often. There were times where I also had high anxiety while being abroad, simply because of the situation that I was in and the lack of community I had. It was terrifying at some points and I felt so alone! Talking about it with other people and sharing my story helped me cope with it, and I’m so glad that you shared your story, too. Being around toxic people, anywhere in the world, is difficult. I’m glad you realized it and made changes to better your situation and your emotional, mental, and physical health!

    Also, enjoy Spain! That’s where I have been for the past two years before moving home, and the area is beautiful!

    • Reply Ella January 8, 2017 at 19:14

      Thank you so much for commenting, Cassandra! I think some of the aspects that make travel so exciting and liberating, can also be the aspects that make travel anxiety-inducing and isolating. Reaching out and sharing your story definitely helps. I’m sorry that you can relate but I’m appreciative of you sharing your experiences with us. I’ve actually already been to Spain (I wrote this post a few months ago haha) and I had such an amazing time! I’m seriously considering going back this year and I’m just a bit jealous that you lived there for two years 😉 haha.

  • Reply Amanda Williams January 8, 2017 at 17:51

    I’m really sorry to read that you had such a bad experience in Australia, but I felt very positive reading about your forthcoming plans. I love the bit when you say about ‘deliberately and purposefully cultivating a travel experience, that will help ease you back into the travel life’. I just know this time you’re going to have a great experience and admire you greatly for putting yourself back out there. Enjoy. x
    Amanda Williams recently posted…Port Quin: The perfect winter hideaway in CornwallMy Profile

    • Reply Ella January 8, 2017 at 19:31

      I’m glad that you liked this post and that sentence in particular. Bad experiences happen and I think that’s just something that we have to accept and deal with as best as possible. This post was written a while ago so I’ve actually already gone on the yoga retreat, but it really was a great experience and it did for me what I hoped it would do. Thank you for commenting, Amanda 🙂 x

  • Reply Sarah CC January 14, 2017 at 11:04

    So courageous <3 and so much wisdom!

    • Reply Ella January 14, 2017 at 17:53

      Awww, thanks Sarah! 🙂 x

  • Reply Marguerite January 22, 2017 at 11:56

    Hi Ella,

    First of all – you’re super brave to a) travel again and b) share your experiences with the world. And one thing to remember is that you got back up! Also, you were strong enough to get out of the terrible situation you were in. Last year I actually got into a very traumatic incident in my hometown, as irony would have it in one of the safest neighborhoods of the city, and that sent me spiralling into depression and anxiety. I was moving abroad a few months later, and in spite of the trauma, I still went ahead and did it. Now, I’m healing every day and I’m so grateful I took the plunge.

    I hope you enjoy your yoga retreat and once again, thanks for sharing. Will be following your blog!

    – M

    • Reply Ella January 24, 2017 at 15:08

      Thank you so much, Marguerite! I think it’s always better to try to get back up, instead of staying on the ground. Even if takes some time to gather the will and energy. I’m sorry that you experienced something similar (in your hometown no less!), but I’m glad that you are healing and still moving forward. Moving forward is the key 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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