The Healthy Guide to Escapist Travel


There’s always been an element of escapism to travel.

Perhaps it’s the comfort associated with not having to get up for work. The peace of not having to think about everyday stresses. Or the thrill of being able to discover something new about a place or even yourself.

Escapist travel is when the desire to go on holiday is motivated by the urge to escape reality. In 2022, a survey by YouGov found that 59% of UK consumers listed their top motivation for holidays as being the desire to get away from home. The second most popular reason was to relax and improve their well-being.

Travelling or going on holiday can be a powerful coping strategy and help you to reset or rethink your priorities when normal life is driving you crazy, but it can come with its ups and downs. Escaping reality could mean avoiding reality, so it’s important to take a moment before you travel to think about your goals. Here’s our guide on how to do it in a way that is beneficial to your mental well-being.

Be realistic

Crystal clear waters, golden beaches, isolated mountaintops, and delicious dinners on a balcony overlooking the town. It’s like a dream made into reality, and there’s a good chance that your social media feed is filled with perfect photos and videos just like that.

When you’re planning your trip away, these sorts of things can make you feel envious or set up your expectations of what your getaway is going to be like – but that’s not always how things work out.

Travelling can be a bumpy journey both figuratively and literally, and it’s easy to feel demoralised or disappointed when your holiday doesn’t match what you’ve seen online. So although it’s escapism you’re after, it serves well to be realistic about some things.

Try to concentrate on your reasons for travelling – if it’s not inspiring you or helping you plan for your trip, stay off social media as much as you can.

Plan ahead

While part of the adventure of travelling can be figuring things out as you go and exploring the unknown, having a plan for some things can help take the stress out of being somewhere you’re unfamiliar with, especially if you’re planning to leave the UK for your trip.

Top tips include:

  • Learning a few words in the local language – a good start would be learning how to say “Hello”, “Please”, and “Thank you”.   
  • Getting to know any customs or etiquette – be particularly mindful of anything that is acceptable in your culture that might not be in another country.
  • Making sure you’ve got your phone set up to work in a different country.
  • Having some cash in the correct currency.

These are all practical things that will mean when the time comes, you’ll better be able to concentrate on the goals of your trip rather than worrying about how you’ll get around.

Set a goal

This is especially true if you want to travel as a means of escaping your reality.

The distance from everyday life and the devoted time to yourself can help you to re-examine things about your life, relationships, or career. Maybe it’s that you want to gain a sense of independence or confidence in yourself by successfully navigating the area, meeting new people, or ordering a meal in another language.

Taking a moment to understand the reason why you feel like you need to get away will help you to set a goal of what you’d like to achieve.

Try dopamine travel

You may have heard of dopamine dressing trending throughout the summer, but how about dopamine travel? It’s the same premise, just applied to destinations rather than your wardrobe.

In fashion, it can relate to dressing in colours, styles, and fabrics that stimulate the production of dopamine. When you’re travelling, it can be more about experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells that help to elevate your mood.

In other words, concentrate on experiencing the things that make you feel happy. This can be personal to you – plan to stay by the coast if you love the sound of crashing waves, go to a lively market town if you want to smell and taste as many foods as you can, or fill your shoulder bag with local souvenirs.  

Choose your company

When choosing whom to travel with, keep your goals in mind. Make sure your group, whether it’s friends or family, have similar aims – or at least understand yours.

Being alone can also be highly beneficial in some regards. You get a better chance to learn more about yourself and work on personal goals. You can gain confidence, meet new people, and learn skills to take back with you. However, it might also have the reverse effect of making you feel lonely and nervous to try something new.

If you’re worried about travelling alone or meeting new people, some travel companies such as Contiki will help you to organise groups and will even buddy you up with a roomie before the trip.

Prepare for the return home

After all the excitement and escapism of your trip, the time will inevitably come to return home and back to normality.

Feelings of happiness by travel typically last for about a month after you get back, but you might find yourself feeling sad or anxious at the thought of it, especially if you’ve been away for a while or if what you were trying to get away from is still there. Post-holiday or post-travel blues can leave you feeling demotivated, tired, and longing for the next holiday.

While away, try to do things that will soften the bump of going back to reality and minimise the effects of post-travel blues. Keep a travel blog or diary during your trip so you have something to remember all the good times with. Make plans to catch up with friends and talk about what everyone’s been doing while you’ve been gone. Try to maintain your travelling mindset even at home by staying open to new experiences. Have a go at being a tourist in your own town and learn more about its history or try a nowhere holiday at home.

Escapist travel can be an incredible experience. It can give you a much-needed break, allow you to spend time in the present rather than dwelling on worries, and see the world from new perspectives. Setting off with a plan of what you want to do and achieve is the key to gaining some healthy escapism and a boost to your mental well-being. Bon voyage!

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