Photo is used for representational purposes only. Pic: Maitrai Agarwal

World Tourism Day 2020: Why is it okay to Miss Travelling and 5 Ways to Cope with Lack of Travel

By Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

Updated: 27 September, 2020 13:52 IST

How does travel affect our brain and mental well-being? Therapist Deeva Avula shares 5 ways to cope with the sudden lack of travel in your life

Established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), World Tourism Day is celebrated each year on September 27. To say 2020 has been challenging for the tourism industry will be an understatement. We’ve all heard about the billions of dollars and jobs the industry has lost. We’re in the middle of re-opening state borders without restrictions owing to the income reliance on tourism.

Much of the conversation around the suffering of the industry sidelines its biggest stakeholder, you- the one who is reliant on travel as a source of joy, amazement, and creativity. Do you remember the last time you laid eyes on something beautiful you’d never seen before? How your eyes bulged, jaw dropped, and heart raced? For many people, travel is not just a fun diversion or selfie opportunity. There is a growing body of research that suggests how travel positively impacts our mental well-being.


Stress Relief

A study by the American Psychological Association found that travel reduces stress by removing people from the environment and activities they associate with anxiety and stress.

Increased and Prolonged Happiness 

Another study by Cornell University concluded that anticipating an experience such as travel makes us happier than anticipating a tangible purchase. The happiness you derive from travel sustains even after your trip ends. South Korean researchers found that life satisfaction among respondents had risen (about a month on average) among those who’d travelled.


“Interaction with new spaces, people, cultures, and art gives a fresh perspective and feeds the creative brain. Brain health is often enhanced with novel experiences when they are perceived as safe and exciting. Engaging with a different culture creates diverse memories, stories we can retell, enhances creativity and perhaps empathy, and overall brain health due to new neural pathways being fired in the brain,” said therapist Deepa Avula.

DILEMMA- To Travel or Not to Travel?

When the nation came to a sudden halt in March, all our scheduled and unscheduled trips got canned overnight. Where did that leave us? Disappointed and anxious about impending uncertainties. The pandemic has been unprecedented by all accounts and timelines we had made up in our minds have shifted constantly.

Advocates of opening up have insisted upon resuming travel owing to economic reasons while some cite limited medical infrastructure as an adherent. We all know someone who has ventured and found retreat in the hills or on the beaches of Goa and those who self-regulate and stay home at all costs. We might have eased into this new indoor lifestyle, but not knowing when we’ll be able to move freely and get our next doze of travel can be aggravating.


When you quit something cold-turkey, you are bound to have some sort of withdrawal. Why should travel, be any different? This World Tourism Day, therapist Deepa Avula shares 5 ways for you to cope with the lack of travel in your life:  


Browsing through old pictures from past travel experiences is a healthy way to reminisce and enjoy the vicarious benefits of travel, in times when actual travel may not be possible. So, go ahead, share your photos this #throwbackthursday with the people who will resonate with those moments and experiences.

Travel Board

As stated earlier, even the anticipation of travel makes us happier. So, why should we let the lack of feasibility of travel get in the way of our imagination? Indulging in thinking and planning of travel in a post-covid-time is an excellent way of sustaining hope. So, go ahead, make yourself a travel board and fill it with a long list of places to see and things to do.

Space Recreation

Recreate the senses from a particular travel experience by engaging in associated memories. Missing your Italian summer trip? Play some music that reminds you of Italy, make some pasta, or treat yourself to gelato. Display the souvenirs you’ve collected over all these years and remind yourself of the places you loved visiting. Your body might be stuck indoors, your senses needn’t be.

Breath, Imagination, and Movement

A body-mind based professional can hold the space for you to engage in deep breathing and visualizing visiting another place through the mind’s images. Also, moving our bodies, physical stretching, and metaphorically expanding the space around us keeps us going in the here and now, until one day when we can choose to travel freely,” explained Deepa.

Mental Health Support

If not being able to travel bothers you in a deeper way, don’t shy away from exploring why. A mental health professional can help uncover what travel means to you and how it supports your mental health. Unique ways to handle the absence of travel or the presence of stress-inducing travel can be charted out based on your unique context.

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First Published: 26 September, 2020 19:09 IST

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