Why “Book a Plane Ticket!” Is the Worst Self Help Advice Ever
Right now, I’m in Costa Rica. The sun is warm, the sea is blue, and last night, I got into a deep conversation in the supermarket check out line with a woman who is a shaman who performs cacao reading ceremonies. Last week, I got into a deep conversation on the beach with another woman who is studied in the art of reading auras—she claimed mine was purple and offered me a full aura reading in exchange for giving her some info about the town we are both currently visiting. I go to yoga every day, watch the sun set every evening, refrain from drinking, and am pretty much living a New Age/now age ideal. But here’s the thing, which has become more and more clear the more I’ve traveled: Everything I’ve learned here, I could have learned on my own, back home.
Don’t get me wrong. I love travel. I believe it’s so important for my mind, my body, my soul. As the editor of Horoscope.com, I love exploring different cultures, routines, and having the ability to meet people from all over the world who also believe in the same values and soul searches I do. I love learning about new beliefs, becoming a guest in different cultures, and learning that the world is both big and so, so small.
And yet, I don’t think travel is the be-all, end-all cure so many people make it out to be. Feeling stuck? Go on a trip! Losing perspective? Book a one-way plane ticket. Lost? Get even more lost by going somewhere solo, where you don’t speak the language. Travel is a privilige. People need time, paid time off, and money. It’s sometimes not feasible, and I worry that books like Wild, and Eat, Pray, Love make it seem like the only way to move on is to physically, well, move.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned on all my trips around the world: You pack your own demons with you. You’re not going to become a new person halfway around the world. You’re still going to feel confused, lost, or second-guessing your past decisions. The best trips can expand your horizons and force you to break boundaries and previously held beliefs. But a lot of that boundary breaking can come from stepping outside of your comfort zone back home. When you’re in a country where you don’t know the language and don’t have any friends, you’re automatically a lot more likely to start a conversation with the stranger behind you in line at the supermarket, especially if you realize she speaks the same language as you. But let’s be honest: You could also do that at home.
I also worry that sometimes, travel can be an excuse to not change. It’s all too easy to assume a yoga retreat will change your life, and not do the work to change it right now. Sure, it’s awesome to take a yoga class to the sound of monkeys howling in the trees, but you could achieve the same physical and mental affects by taking a class at a local YMCA or community center. To me, travel is like a green juice: Delicious, nutritious, enriching, and makes me feel healthy and like I’m living my best life. But just because I love green juice doesn’t mean I’m giving up water, or would feel sad if I had to go with only water for a long stretch of time.
I’ve noticed this week that planetary aspects have encouraged a lot of signs to break barriers, think outside the box, and consider booking a plane ticket. And if that advice speaks to you, awesome. But if you don’t have the time, money, or desire, it doesn’t mean that you’re any less of an evolved person or that you are limited in your self-discovery. Here, some things I’ve learned that can give you that vacation feeling—without taking time off.
1. Talk to Strangers
Take off your headphones, put down your phone, and say “hi.” If you’re at a cafe, ask what someone’s reading. Ask for directions instead of asking your GPS. The more you reach out, the more you’ll get back—and may just be invited to a cacao-healing ceremony (which brings us to travel point #2, which is be smart and don’t go to the cacao-healing ceremony in a private place and get to know the person you meet first)
2. Break Routine
A new cafe, a new route to work, starting the AM with a meditation—try something that isn’t so same-old. The best part of going on a trip is doing something new. Don’t wait until your next vaca to delight yourself with a break in routine.
3. Look At Nature
Even if you live in a crowded city, get outside. Watch the sun rise. Enjoy the sun set. Pay attention to the wind on your face and the rain in your hair. On vacation, you often choose a place based on it’s natural beauty. But there’s natural beauty everywhere. Appreciate it in your own backyard, become accustomed to the rhythm of the seasons, and you’ll naturally fall into the rhythm of the cosmos, too.
4. Live With Less
One thing that’s great about a trip is that you’re not encumbered by so much stuff. A capsule wardrobe or a serious decluttering session can also help you eliminate the stuff in your current life, giving you the time and space to focus on friends, family, and the things that really matter to you.
5. Think Big
Even if you can’t afford a ticket somewhere, you can allow your imagination to wander. Looking up places that inspire you (these images of magic forests are an amazing place to start) making them your desktop photo, diving into the routines and celebrations and cultures of various countries can all help you expand your hroizons. Learn a new language. Read a book you haven’t before. Browse through an Instagram feed of someone who lives halfway around the world. Open your mind and your heart—without opening your wallet.
Of course, if you want to travel, soar! I know the feeling; I’m already planning my next trip. But do not feel like you’re missing out if you’re back home—you have all the tools you need.
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