Travel Psychology 102

Developing a Sense of Self through Travel
Fear / Exhilaration of Self
or, “Travel Psychology 102

Sometimes we don’t really know who we are until we truly put ourselves to the test. Living comfortably, safely, and securely in our own cocoons, never taking chances, never venturing out, can we truly have a sense of who we truly are?

Unless we take the road less traveled by, can we really know what we are capable of who we are? Until we put ourselves to tests, we do not really know. You get a greater sense of self by testing: by exploring, venturing, seeing yourself in new situations, and seeing what you can do. Only then can you look in the mirror at your own reflection and say, “I know that person; I know me.

For many people, this is something that they truly dread . . . the exploration of the self . . . the exploration of me! This has to be one of the most uncomfortable things that people can do. Therefore, stay muted, stay comfortable, stay at home . . . no pain and no gain.

Travel, with something new at every turn, around every corner always the new situation is the absolute, ultimate best way to create these tests of self. The world of travel is the ultimate proving ground for learning who you are.

Maybe Freud had it right about repression of all that makes us uncomfortable. Why put yourself in a situation, which can only lead to confrontation with oneself? Is it no wonder that most people opt to keep at bay those situations that make them most anxious?

You don’t really know who you are until you are you . . . until you discover more the you you are . . . through every new growth experience you expose yourself to.

Is it no wonder some people just want to stay at home? Is it no wonder that they simply do not want to go anywhere?

Then there are those who lavish each and every opportunity to discover who they really are. In the circle of fear / exhilaration, excitement / adrenalin is the opiate of going to the edge . . . to the point of just being anxious or afraid, yet safe . . . those who seek every new experience to discover who they are . . .

Perhaps T. S. Eliots famous poem illustrates this best:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
I dont think I can put it any better than this!

Dr. Michael Brein; 05/27/2006

* Dr. Michael Brein is The Travel Psychologist living on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He is an avid world-traveler as well as author, publisher and lecturer on a variety of travel subjects. His travel guide series, “Michael Breins Travel Guides to Sightseeing by Public Transportation may be viewed at Michael Brein may be reached at or 206.618.7618.

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