The Struggle is Real When Traveling with Depression

The Struggle is Real When Traveling with Depression

note: Lilo now has her own blog. You can find her at Deafinitely Without Barriers.

So I am sure you can see that Stacey and I haven’t been much active the past few months. I wish I can say it’s for a good reason….

Stacey has her internship while attending her last year of graduate school in Marriage and Family Thearpy (MFT) program. She is quite a busy bee these days. That’s great, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. However, on the other hand, what about me?

Whenever I get a chance, obviously I would travel. But lately, something has been holding me back. Something that I would never wish on anyone.


Unfortunately, not many people understand depression and they think it’s so easy to just “get over it” and move on. That’s not the case…

Some days, I have energy where it can last for hours, a day or even more. Then some days, I don’t.

My heart yearns to see what’s out there and seek adventures but yet, I can feel all the weights I am carrying on my back that slows me down. Literally.

I know, I know, you are probably thinking – well just force yourself to get out there.

It’s easier said than done.

Corn Islands

Just because I explore out there doesn’t mean that depression won’t be there.

In fact, it’s always lurking right on my shoulders that are constantly trying to get me down.

When I traveled to the East Coast with a friend for two weeks, he didn’t know that I have depression. I chose not to tell him because I didn’t want to be judged solely on my depression and, also, because it’s not really something I am proud of. During my trip, it was a struggle. Some days I really didn’t have the energy to go out, and I just wanted to stay in bed but I would put my mask on with my smiley face and pushed myself out the day.

Even when I went to Central America for two months, depression hit me hard when I was on my solo trip to Guatemala. This time, I had no one to feel pressured from to go out and in fear of holding my travel buddies from missing out. Yet, I only had a big fight against myself. My mind was thinking, “I only have two weeks to explore before I head back home” while my body felt fatigue. When I stayed in the hostels, I really had to make an effort to socialize with other travelers even if I want my alone time. I can’t just tell them to go away. So again, I put the mask back on.

My point is….

Traveling can’t heal depression but rather, it can help you cope with it

Some people have a misconception that traveling is used to heal depression. Research had shown that travel can be the best for your health especially with how endorphins (the good stuff) are released in our bodies to make us feel good. However, you can’t run away from your feelings and your issues, but we can try our best to cope with it.

There are some days where depression may win…… but it hasn’t completely won my life. I have accepted this dark side of me and learn to cope with it in many different positive ways.

The ways I have been coping with depression whether at home or during my travel:


-Working out



-Positive Affirmations


It’s also important to keep in mind that traveling itself can be quite exhausting with the constant exploring, not enough sleep, getting lost or feeling frustrated when things don’t go as planned. So for a person with depression and anxiety, it’s important to listen to your body and let yourself recharged.

Depression can definitely take its toll on me, no matter what I do but I am thankful for having my family and friends who can understand me and still supports me. It is my hope that we can fight against the stigma on depression and other mental illnesses and let people know that anything is possible.


To anyone who has depression, I just want you to know that you are strong. You are capable of doing anything. You are not your depression. You are beautiful. Trust me when I say, go for your dreams.


If you want to travel, do it. Don’t let depression hold you back. 

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you shared this post. What an important topic for people to discuss. Mental illnesses of ALL kinds are kept too quiet and affect so many people Yeah YOU for talking, opening up and working hard to deal with your depression. I know you are inspiring others to speak up.

    I suffered myself after the birth of my children with postpartum depression. Tough stuff – and again not talked about enough.

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. So brave for sharing this post! Depression is definitely real and debilitating to those suffering from it. I’m glad you found ways to cope.

  3. Thank you for sharing. This is not something I usually think about as I never had a problem with it. Reading about your experiences helps to see how other people might have inner struggles that limit what they can do in life. Good to see you find a way to cope with it and keep travelling. Wishing you all the best

  4. I am sure many travelers will identify with this post. Depression doesn’t just disappear because you decide to take a vacation. It’s something that’s always there but as you suggested, there are ways to cope. I also agree that travel is therapeutic for those who suffer from depression because it forces them to come out of their comfort zone of solitude and loneliness in order to interact with strangers.

  5. You are really brave to write about this. Depression is a topic that needs to be better addressed by the traveling community and I wish we can openly talk about the exhaustion of traveling, as only the positives of it seem to be discussed. I think that you are really strong for being able to take the step away from your comfort zone and explore the world despite it.

    Hope to see you on the road one day! You go glen coco!

  6. Wow thank you so much for opening up about this. This is something we all need to talk more about. Depression isn’t something you can just click your fingers on and make it disappear – it is so much deeper than that but many people don’t understand. Travel won’t “cure” it but things like travel, exercise, meditation etc etc are all ways that can help a person be able to cope with the black dog. It’s different for everyone and there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, so it may take some time to figure out what works for you.
    Juliette | Snorkels to Snow recently posted…How We Learnt To Plan A Ski Trip To Japan – The Hard Way!My Profile

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this! I don’t suffer with depression myself, and so tbh I’m kind of clueless when it comes to understanding the ins and outs and exactly how it makes you feel, but I have a few friends who suffer so am ALWAYS interested to read up on it, and hopefully find some ways to help them, no matter how small.
    It takes a lot of courage to talk so openly about such a personal topic on an open forum like this, so I applaud you for that! I’m so glad that travelling helps you cope! It’s one of the best medicines out there for sure!

  8. What a wonderful post! It’s true that most of the people don’t understand depression, they don’t see it as an illness but as something that you can just brush off and move on from. Sure, you can still laugh, you can still do normal things while you have depression, but the way you feel inside is tearing your soul apart. And people simply can’t understand it. Traveling does help and let’s hope it will never ever end being helpful.

  9. Such an honest a brave post. Depression isn’t easy to deal with, it’s a constant fight with yourself and your thoughts. It’s really difficult to explain to others since one wouldn’t notice something from the outside. Though I think talking helps, it’s tiring to explain why you don’t feel up for things. I love that you are so open about depression and hope that the things you do to cope with your feelings make you feel happier.

  10. Thank you for sharing your experiences on this. I don’t suffer with depression so I wouldnt have a clue what it is like to go through. Its great you have spoken up about it and I hope it inspires others with depression to do so to.
    danik recently posted…Refreshing stay at Prime Hotel, BeijingMy Profile

  11. Thanks for sharing. Depression is a hard one and can be debilitating, but I am proud to see you not let it stop you. There are lots of ways to cope, and we all just need to find which ones work best.

  12. I take my God Daughter away on holiday each year – she suffers from depression and is bi-polar. Travelling is a good break for her, though sometimes we adjust the itinerary because of how she’s feeling. I agree – don’t stop because you are depressed, it might just help you through
    Fiona Maclean recently posted…Jazz á Carthage Festival in Tunis, TunisiaMy Profile

  13. I’m really sorry to hear about your struggles – and you’re right to talk about it and not keep it hidden as there is no stigma attached. It sounds like you’re doing everything right to help – from meditation to exercise. I just really hope it improves soon. Sending you strength.

  14. I think traveling can open you up to more possibilities and really put you in total control, in my case I pack a full day and some nights so I’m exhausted at the end of the day and no time to really think depressing thoughts.

  15. This is such a powerful post. Depression is an illness that needs to be discussed and understood. It can affect anyone, travel helps but it’s not always an answer.

  16. Sorry to hear about your struggles with depression. It’s refreshing to see more people being open and honest about it as you are on this post. Hopefully it inspires others struggling with depression.

  17. Thank you for sharing this helpful and inspiring post. Depression and mental illness touch so many lives. Family support and awareness (i.e. listen to your body) is so important.

  18. What an honest and courageous article. You should feel proud of yourself for talking about a subject that not many feel comfortable discussing. All i can say is we hope you get the better of this and continue on exploring the world, you are an inspiration to everyone

  19. Such a great post, and thank you for sharing it with us! I’ve been in a similar situation for a couple of years now, although luckily it got better as time went by. I used to have anxiety disorder during and after university, which made even short trips ten times more challenging than they should’ve been. Like you, I never used to tell my friend or friends I was travelling with for fear of… I don’t know, being pitied, I guess. Even leaving my own house was a challenge most of the time, because I was constantly worried that I’d have a panic attack when I’m out. It’s awful – although depression must be even worse. But like you, I just learned to live with it. It’s not completely gone and I don’t know if it ever will be – but I stopped letting it affect my life and just carried on. 🙂 Great post!
    Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures recently posted…Hong Kong Travel Guide: My 4-Day ItineraryMy Profile

  20. A part of the reason for travel is to get away from stress. Some might argue that visiting a new city is stressful in itself but for me it’s about taking a break from what’s going on with me in my city, whether it’s work, the daily grind etc. I never even thought about travelling with depression. Great post and good on you for bringing awareness.
    Christopher recently posted…Sygic Travel: Trip Planner & City GuideMy Profile

  21. Thankyou for sharing your story and being so honest, open and vulnerable. Telling people about depression is often the most difficult part. So sorry to hear about your struggles, but I’m glad that you have found different outlets like travel which help you cope. You have a strong community of friends within the travel community here who are ready to support you if you ever need anything.

    Mental illness is something which affects far more people than society believes, so I think it’s so important to talk about it, and share our struggles as well as our ups.

    Sending all our love XXX

  22. Wow this is one of the most honest tests that I have recently read. I think based on statistics quite few people are struggling with depression but its is not exactly the topic that is spoken about a lot. I wish we were all more open to talk about it. You are really brave writing about it, and letting travel and travel friends help you to deal with the problem. All the best!

  23. Thank you for your openness in sharing your struggle. After many years, I finally realised that I need to face up to the fact that I need medication to deal with depression. It has made the world of difference, though, of course, it’s only part of the process. I find that booking a trip many months in advance gives me something to look forward to and get me through the day. Even though it’s sometimes hard to cope with the stresses and physical exhaustion of travel, it is a tonic to my soul. I sincerely hope that you will find the strength to keep traveling when you’re up to it and use other methods to keep you afloat when you’re not. xx

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