backpacking mental health travel Travel Articles travel blog travelling

Mental Health Whilst Travelling

Travelling can give you a huge rush of serotonin. It makes you feel alive. When walking down the streets of a foreign city, basking in the sights, smelling the air that reminds you of a mouldy toilet, you feel free. From the second you step off the plane it just hits you, the feelings of excitement and intrigue mixed with the sense of accomplishment that you’re finally there after weeks of anticipation. Yet like all feelings, it wears off and a re-charge is needed.

The problem being is that you take longer to re-charge. Everyone else charges like an iPhone 13 and you’re just a humble iPhone 3G.

When you travel with mental health issues regardless of what they are it can be tough. You’re constantly battling with yourself. You’re getting into your head thinking you’re wasting your days and that you should be seeing more, yet you struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Despite the unhinged desires to see everything, experience everything and the number of times you scream SEEK DISCOMFORT at yourself you end up succumbing to mental health. You stay in bed all day, you leave the hostel just for a few hours to sort of feel like you went out and experienced today and you linger for that feeling of serotonin you had the first couple of days you were on the road.

It sucks. It really does. But it won’t last. That feeling will return, you may have to be patient as your humble iPhone 3G battery recharges.

It’s all about working with it. Ok, so you’re having a depressive day and are finding it extremely hard to stop doom scrolling on Insta and leave your hostel bed, maybe just go out for a few hours listening to your fave tunes. Instead of spending a long time roaming around places or hiking in nature just go to a museum and grab a coffee in town. These little victories are what you need, these small doses of the travelling experience you want but also working with your mental health.

It’s more than ok to have an off day whilst on the road. It’s ok to have a day laying in bed doom scrolling and wishing you looked like Taylor Momsen. Does it mean you’ve wasted your time and experience travelling to these countries you’ve been dying to visit? Fuck no. It just means you’re self-aware and can work on finding that balance.

Fuck depression and anxiety, Mon the travelling!


2 replies on “Mental Health Whilst Travelling”

A good point well made!
When we first started travelling, we treated it like a holiday and felt we had to do or achieve something every day (exactly what burned us out at work!)
Now, we schedule some down time, or if we feel like it, we just take some. That is part of the freedom that travel gives to you, so yes. It’s being self aware!
We’re having one of those days today. We’ve been on the road for five months and the temperature has been in the 30s since May. Last night we had a terrifying drive along a precipice and couldn’t reach our destination, which meant a terrifying u-turn. Our internet wasn’t working, so we couldn’t easily search for an alternative.
Today, I said to Mark, ‘I want to go home!’ Not really, ‘I want to go home’. I just want a swift taste of not being boiling and terrified and for things to work out in a predictable way. He said he felt the same.
We’ve relocated to the ocean, where we’ve got a nice sea breeze and I’ve updated the phone. Magically, the internet has come back and now, things aren’t looking so bad. 🙂


One of the assets of traveling overseas from a mental health perspective would be the ability to be completely detached from routines you are used to back home. There’s little pressure to take a shower, make phone calls… I think “Ala carte” all the way and expect no more than what I can pay so my American pressure to buy is less.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s