All Posts By

Alyssa Greene

Advice Giving Back Journal

Addressing The Privilege Of Travel

For many, seeing Instagram accounts full of gorgeous photos of exotic and distant places will always be just that – distant places. The colors, sounds, smells, experiences of physically being in those foreign worlds may be an experience only had by the people who can afford them. It is incredibly important to be aware of the privilege and honor it is to explore the world.

To be able to pick and choose most of the experiences we have is a privilege. To essentially see the best of a certain place without having to endure any of the “bad.” We curate trips to look idyllic, oftentimes without appreciating the realities of the destination as it exists before we get there and after we leave.

Let’s recognize the privilege of having the ability to take time away from work, to spend valuable time planning a vacation, and the overall financial impact traveling can have. Not only from a financial perspective is it important to recognize privilege, but also from a physical and mental perspective. If you are someone who does not have to worry about how to physically or mentally get yourself to and from a destination, this advantage may rarely be considered or appreciated.

My hope is that being aware of the ease and ability it takes to travel can help us to stay fully present and appreciative of our experiences – particularly with the hiccups that can happen. Delayed flights, lost luggage, too long or short of connections can be inconvenient experiences, absolutely.  However, if these experiences don’t completely drain your bank account, cause you to lose your job, or have any other damaging consequence, we can take solace in the fact that we get to do what some only dream of doing and seeing.

We know we may have opportunities and experiences others don’t have or won’t have. What can we do about it? Here are a few things to consider.

Be Real

Back to those amazing Instagram layouts with stunning color and beautifully dressed women with no one else in sight. I am drawn into these photos. I want to have that experience. I want to feel like I am in the perfect moment.

But how often are those pictures very carefully curated? My guess is that it takes a lot of work to make those photos look just right.

If you have time and resources to make these gorgeous shots – that’s fantastic! Keep at it! If not, know that photos are your memories of your experiences. It’s okay to be real in them.

When we are real in our pictures, we are real with the world around us. Perhaps some moments you may have a quiet moment in a stunning location. Capture it! And when you don’t, take in the chaos of the moment and all the imperfections that go along with it. When we acknowledge reality versus a created moment, we can share with others our genuine experiences.

Authenticity can help us to feel more connection. Not just to others but the places we see. And connection with others and the world around us is a vital part of understanding our privilege.

I am guilty of this. I want my Instagram to be impressive. I want to share with others my travels because they have shaped me and inspired me. And, I understand the incredible privilege I have in being able to do and see the world as I do. I believe the least we can do is be genuine and authentic when sharing our experiences.

Encourage Small Traveling

There is beauty and excitement in many parts of the world if we look for it. Yes, Cinque Terre, Cappadocia, Marrakech, Phuket Island are stunning gems in this world. And we can still fully appreciate the new distillery in central Wisconsin, the exposed brick buildings in northeast Minneapolis, or the big sky and plains in southern Oklahoma. Our adventures can include top name attractions, and they also don’t.

Travel and exploration does not have to be done on a large scale or thousands of miles away to count as vacation. There are cities or countries actively being torn apart by war, famine, or other crises. It is important to remember there is beauty there, too. 

Support Local Businesses or Causes

Doing some research to support local communities where you travel can be a great option. Markets where locals sell their produce or handmade crafts, or dining at restaurants that are not right in a city center can be ways to support individuals and families who may be impacted by tourism.

Depending upon your resources and time allotted, find local charities for causes you support in the areas you travel. This can be a long term travel goal for yourself! For example, if you are visiting an area that has been recently ravaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster, see where you can donate time or money for housing, food, or other necessities.

Recognizing our privilege can be uncomfortable. What is even more uncomfortable is not having privilege. Travel in itself pushes you out of your comfort zones. It can force us to feel uncomfortable, and this may be part of the reason why we love it. Personal growth is a fantastic side effect of travel. Now, let’s push ourselves further to be authentic and aware of the world around us while doing something we love.


Understanding and addressing the privilege of travel is something we should all aspire to do. Conscious travel and eco-travel ideas is something we’re incredibly passionate about… and we’d love if you’d check out our other posts on traveling consciously and mindfully here!

Advice

How To Cope With A Bad Mood While Traveling

It finally happened. I was on a road trip with my partner that I was looking forward to for months. And around day 4, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was mildly irritated, nothing sounded fun, and felt guilty that I felt this way! There is nothing more frustrating than doing something you love, exploring a new place, and not enjoying it. While luckily this bad mood was temporary, there are a few things I tried to help get my head back on track. Here are some of my simple tricks to help you overcome a bad mood while traveling.

Get Rid Of The Guilt

A good first step, really, is to try not to blame yourself for your mood. This will likely make your mood even worse. Sometimes, there may be a reason why your mood has shifted, and sometimes there isn’t.

If you can pinpoint something that occurred that contributed to the shift in your mood, find what you can do to directly address that event. If there wasn’t any obvious reason as to what may have led to the mood change, spending time poring over “what happened” may also not be helpful.

Being able to tolerate certain emotions can be difficult, but it is super important is to allow ourselves to be okay with feeling them. When we become more accepting of the emotions we feel, they tend to not last as long or be as intense.

Go Back To Basics

This can feel like a no-brainer, but it can actually be really helpful. Have you eaten recently? Had enough water? Taken any medication you are prescribed? Have you slept enough? Showered or bathed?

Checking off these often times overlooked basics can ground us and help us to refresh our mood and behaviors.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

This is a difficult one for me while traveling, as my favorite activity while traveling is finding local breweries, wineries, distilleries, etc. The idea of having a glass of wine or a beer to “loosen up” may sound appealing, however it can overall contribute to a lower mood. Alcohol is a depressant, after all!

Talk About It

If you are traveling with someone, let them know where you are at, emotionally.

You don’t have to spend a significant amount of time discussing your mood, what may be contributing to it, or searching for solutions. Sometimes just the acknowledgment that you aren’t feeling as excited or as energized as you want to be can be a good kick start to allowing your mood to move past any discomfort.

If you are traveling solo, reach out to others if you are able to. Send a loved one a text or call/FaceTime briefly. Reconnecting for a short period of time may be helpful.

Gratitude

This can be difficult to practice when our moods are not great. Take some time to reorient yourself to all the great things that traveling does for you. Remind yourself of things that went right today. This can include any safe travels thus far, any new and beautiful things you have seen and did, and what else you may be looking forward to.

For some people, journaling and documenting their gratitude is more effective, and for others, simply thinking about them is just as helpful.

It’s Okay To Need Support

It is important to note that there is a difference between experiencing a low mood and if you are experiencing a depressive episode, panic attack, or other significant mental health concerns.

Further support may be necessary – and this is totally okay! Reach out to any mental health or medical providers when you can.

We’re human and we experience emotion. We are likely to experience a variety of moods, especially if we travel often. If we can give ourselves some space to recognize how we are feeling and tolerate it to the best of our ability, we can feel even more present and engaged when doing the things we love most.


Have you ever had to overcome a bad mood while traveling? What helped you manage your emotions?

Advice Journal

Living & Traveling According To Your Core Values

It is not a surprise that travel, especially solo travel, can do wonders for self-esteem and provide a major confidence boost. We hear countless stories and endorsements of how empowering travel can be. What we may not also realize is that it can help to re-evaluate and emphasize our core values as well. When we know and practice our core values, this can also improve our self-esteem, confidence, and quality of life.

To first identify what our values are, I like to think that where we feel a strong passion, feel drawn to a certain area, action, or feeling time and time again, this is where we want to keep our focus. My guess is that if you are reading this, traveling is likely a strong passion for you – me too!

Within our passions, less obvious values (not actions or causes necessarily) may be hidden. Core values can include independence, success, wisdom, compassion, tolerance, and endless others. How we travel, where we travel, and why we travel can all be pathways to really understanding who we are.

We tend to utilize our values as guides to our decision making in everyday life. The things that are most important to us impact what kind of jobs we do, the kind of relationships we have, the way we interact with others, and our hobbies. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to assume we could be using our values to decide our travel plans.

If knowledge and wisdom are some of your strongest values, visit places that exercise your mind. If compassion and love some of your strongest values, find ways to give back when you travel or go with people who make you feel the most yourself. If spirituality is a value, find places and activities that allow you to feel connected to your beliefs. Allow yourself to notice what it is that is most exciting and rewarding for you, and follow it.

Ideally, we are finding ways to feel connected to our values in everyday life, not just while traveling. What makes considering your values unique in this scenario is that if travel is already something that inspires you, you may experience more an even more elevated level of growth, peace, contentment, and sense of wholeness. When we are doing this consistently, I believe we are less likely to feel anxious, intense levels of depression, less stress, and experience a higher quality of engagement and connection with others and the world around us.

Finding the most beautiful places to witness in person, meeting locals, engaging in their traditions, learning about their history, growing through adversity, and so many more opportunities can be exhilarating. When we are living in alignment with our values, it’s not hard to image that we are more likely to feel whole. And isn’t that what all this is about?

Advice Travel Planning

How Understanding Your Unique Travel Approach Changes Everything

There are few things more exciting for me than researching, planning, and preparing for a next trip. I can feel equal parts excitement, fear, anxiety, and gratitude. However, all the preparation is part of the travel process for me; something that brings me great joy and eases my worry. For others, this planning may be an aspect of traveling that brings too much anxiety or is a detail that others can do without. Knowing and understanding how your unique travel approach, and those who you are traveling with, can be a great asset in preparing and having the best experience on your trip.

Step one – figure out your own travel style.

Are you a planner who needs to have the train routes and tickets ahead of time, meals and attractions researched, and a strict itinerary? Are you more free-spirited and like to see where the day takes you as long as you have your ticket to get there? Or, are you somewhere in between?

There isn’t a “wrong” travel style – it’s understanding how you operate! Knowing a little more about yourself can be helpful to predict how your trip may go, regardless if you are traveling with someone new or an old friend.

Take some time to learn how you plan things, and how you may react when things don’t go as planned. Or, on the flip side, if you need to do some planning and can’t be as spontaneous as you’d prefer, how can you manage having that structure?

Step two – take into account others that are traveling with you.

If you are an avid traveler, you may have already experienced traveling with others who don’t have the same routines as you or very different personalities. Differing goals and expectations of a trip can cause frustration and resentment between your travel companions if not addressed ahead of time.

Understanding your expectations and how you handle travel stressors can help you to communicate them more effectively with others.

One way to avoid this, can be to have a quick meeting beforehand to plan what each member of your travel group wants to achieve during the trip, how they each would handle any crises that arise, and how they want to structure each day. For example, if one adventurer likes to be up and exploring from sun up to sun down, this would be helpful for someone to know who may want to sleep in and have a slower exploration pace.

Step three- navigate misaligned travel approaches

There are many ways to navigate mismatched traveling styles, such as finding ways to compromise on how many sites are visited, or how much down time to allot.

Another option is to see if either of you are comfortable separating individually or into smaller groups for a period of time to do things that meet each of your needs. Even if you’ve traveled with the same people in the past, depending upon where you’re going and what the purpose of the trip is, the expectations may not always be the same.

Likely, if you have a love of traveling, you are at least somewhat prepared to handle the unexpected. Things can go array regardless of how much or little is planned. Worrying about how you well you’ll get along with your travel partners doesn’t have to be an additional stressor!

While traveling with others who “travel” differently than you can be stressful, naming the expectations ahead of time can prepare you more readily for your adventure. Best of all, remember that even if you are traveling with a group, it is still YOUR experience – make it what you need it to be!

Advice Journal

How Traveling Can Improve Body Image

Traveling to new places across the world (or even a trip to a new part of your town!) can offer a break from our daily lives. We are thrown out of our normal routines, and for some of us, that is a welcomed break. If you are someone who suffers from or is prone to anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or other anxiety disorders, this break from normalcy can be fear inducing. As a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, here are some suggestions on how traveling can improve body image, and actually be a helpful way to break the constant rigidity and hyper-focus on body image.

Leave Your Rules at Home

Because traveling to a new place requires you to physically not be at home or in your familiar environment, this can be a great opportunity to “leave your worries behind”. Likely, and unfortunately, they will be there when you return. Give yourself permission to take a break from the structure and rules that may feel so important to follow. By doing this, you are allowing yourself to be more present, mindful, and really take in the experience of being somewhere new. It is always okay to bring pieces of your home with you to help ground yourself, though (i.e., pictures, jewelry, favorite sweatshirt, etc.). Some of the greatest parts of traveling are to enjoy the unfamiliar foods, the culture, and interactions with others. If you notice you’re spending that time thinking about how others may be perceiving you, it may be keeping you from fully enjoying all aspects of your trip. Keep in mind that depending on where you travel, other cultures may have different body image standards than where you are from. Therefore, comparing your body to others does nothing but reinforce beliefs that someone has to be “better” or “worse”.

“Don’t post that picture!”

Taking pictures, having visual memories and reminders of where we have been, can be some of the best souvenirs from a trip. Many people who have body image concerns may not want to be in these pictures, or if they are, may spend excess time thinking about how they wish their body would look a certain way. While it can be totally acceptable to not want to be in pictures, think of what kind of memory you could have if you were a part of those memories. The purpose of these pictures is to remember what we did at those times, remember the experience, the feelings of how it was to be at that place at that moment in time, and to remember the smells and the sounds. Instead of critiquing how you appear in that picture, consider that the purpose of the picture (and you being in it), isn’t about you at all – it is about the experience. You are in it to remind yourself that you were there. If we can allow ourselves to shift the focus from ourselves to the world around us, we can take a mental break from body critique.

What Your Body CAN Do, Not What It Can’t

Depending upon the type of trip you take, there may be more physical exertion than you normally have in your daily routines. Feeling exhaustion, winded, or sore can be a totally normal part of travel. When it can turn negative, however, is if it is taken as a sign of weakness. We may be more likely to judge our bodies if we perceive we “can’t handle” it. Instead, remind yourself of all the things your body CAN do. Your legs took you to this part of the globe, your eyes are helping you to see new surroundings, your senses are helping you interpret your experience, and your stomach is helping you to digest the new foods that help describe a new culture. When we can focus on what our bodies are doing for us, rather than the things it is not, we are more likely to appreciate our experiences and less likely to critique them. It is a privilege to have a fully functioning body, and we must appreciate this as often as we can!

If we are traveling for joy, intention, and enlightenment, being fully present will only enhance the experience. While intrusive body image thoughts may be present with you while you travel, we can work to decrease the power they have on your day. Leave your rules behind, being a part of those pictures, and loving what your body is capable of doing can also help you once you get home. These ideas can be used at any time, not just for traveling! And, having the opportunity to break from your normal routine can shake up the usual way we see ourselves. Knowing that we have seen different cultures, with different body expectations, can remind us that we are likely our own biggest critic – and that there are many more precious things in this world than what we look like.

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