Anecdotal Evidence

Traveling Riverside Blues: Tips to Travel with Depression

I will never understand when people don’t care to see the rest of the world. I’m not sure if it’s “Earth Live” or seemingly infinite internet access, but I feel like they aren’t seeing things clearly. The world is a dang fantasy novel that you can experience FIRSTHANDnot just from your couch.

As someone who also deals with depression firsthand, I know that travel, while magical, can also seem daunting and scary. Depression interferes with your life no matter how lovely your surroundings, and leaves you angrily projecting your emotions on strangers who ask what’s wrong like “I DON’T KNOW, ANGUS. FUCK YOUR FEELINGS.”

It’s not the best way to make friends.

For me, having depression is like having a tourist from a dark distant place that visits my body. I am not sad. I deal with a depressed shoebie in a Hawaiian t-shirt who sits on my shoulder and whispers bullshit in my ear. He is the one who can’t hold a proper conversation with Angus, which is sad, because Angus is a sweet lad who simply wants to share a pint.

It has nothing to do with the “comfort” of the trip. My depression is not dependent on how many stars my hotel is, in fact, I tend to prefer dirt floors. It depends completely on my mindset. In times of depression abroad, I have three tips to help me refocus. (I’m making it sound like a mug cake recipe, but it takes practice.)

1. Bring an escape hatch.

In my case, this is a book. I picture it as a literal door I can walk in and out of. Your escape hatch might be music, or Sudoku, or a picture of Ansel Elgort.


2.  Break a sweat.

Even if your depression fills you with sand, break a quick sweat. Hike if you can, but if you can’t, do some jumping jacks or push-ups. Just make your heart do something aside from sit there and rattle.

3. Buy a stranger a drink.

If I feel low, and I’m in a place where alcohol is readily available, I like to buy a stranger a drink (and tell the bartender not to point me out). It doesn’t put you in the position to try and feign cheerfulness, but you get to watch it show up on someone else’s face, and that helps.

These are 3 tips to take down depression when you travel. It’s akin to a toddler taking down a linebacker, because depression is so big in our minds, but consider these tips a switchblade. Now that I’ve armed you, my fellow toddler, go ahead and hamstring your linebacker. You deserve the advantage.




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