Generating Hope: using travel to heal trauma

This is the first of many blogs I plan to write on the topic of travel and post-traumatic stress. They will all be posted under the “mental health” category on the left and tagged with “ptsd” if you wish to search for more in the future. 


 3 ways I use travel to reclaim hope for my life and recovery from PTSD.

Awareness: Being grounded in your present reality. Fully encapsulated in the present moment: your environment, thoughts, and human experience. 

Being in a new place, a new culture, requires that I be fully engaged in my present moment. I wont find my way through a foreign airport or metro station if I am stuck in my past fears/experiences.  There is not a lot of room for flashbacks or dissociating in these situations. 

Traveling forces me to be present and aware. I use these moments to reinforce my ability to stay present in all moments. This reinforcement generates hope for myself, and my ability to function in day-to-day life.

Acknowledgement: Fully accepting who you are and where you are. Your strengths and limitations. Your progress and your struggles. 

There are many things I love about traveling. The biggest of those is how traveling always teaches me new things about myself. Travel pushes me to my limits. Physically (hiking, cliff jumping) and mentally. With every trip I learn more and more about who I am as a person: how I engage in my values, where my strengths are, where my limitations lie, and where I can still experience growth. It gives me the opportunity to step-back and re-evaluate my experiences.

This space to re-assess and learn comes only when I am able to acknowledge myself and my current existence. It allows me to generate hope for my future and the process I am on. It challenges all the negative/false beliefs that come with a PTSD diagnosis such as I have no future, I don’t deserve a future, I am weak. You know what I am talking about.

Mindfulness: the ability to focus on your current external and internal experiences. Its the ability to navigate thoughts and emotions in healthy way.

Mindfulness is similar to both awareness and acknowledgement in that it requires both awareness and acceptance. The difference is that mindfulness is more about the ability to focus inward, to focus on thoughts and emotions that are empowering.

One of the things about being a “good traveler” is learning to be in touch with your thoughts/emotions/intuitions and following those as much as possible. When are you somewhere new, you don’t know where the “safe” and “unsafe” places are- you have to rely on internal hunches. Traveling also creates space for empowerment and validation of self.

Travel allows me to 1) practice being mindful of my internal ques/emotions and 2) gain trust in those internal ques and emotions. 

This generates hope in my recovery because it develops a stronger, and more trusting relationship between my body and my emotions: a relationship that gets damaged with PTSD. 


*I plan to write a blog in the future on travel developing trust in self as a means to healing. Stay tuned.

**this blog is inspired in part by a post from the younique foundation

***photos are from Dawson City, Youkon. See more about this location here

5 Self-Care ideas while Traveling

We hear it all the time: self-care, self-care, self-care. We understand the importance of self-care. Yet, we all struggle to intentionally prioritize self-care in our day to day lives let alone while traveling. 

I know some reading this are probably thinking 🤔 wait, traveling is self-care so why would I practice self-care while I am traveling? Like many of you, travel is also my more efficient form of self-care. In one counseling theory “taking a vacation” is a skill of mastery. I am really good at this skill. I hear you all, travel is self-care. 

Travel is also stress-inducing. Especially when the destination is in a different culture/country or for longer periods of time. The stress of navigating various forms of transportation, languages, currencies, can take a much larger toll on the body and the brain that we often times realize. 

With no further wait, 5 practical ways to implement self-care while traveling: 

1- know who your people are and reach out.  Support is important in the day to day lives of everyone. Travel exemplifies this need as cultures and language barriers can highlight our loneliness and create feelings of isolation. The first thing I do when I get to my hotel is FaceTime with someone who I know cares about me. I retell the journey of getting to where I am and share the view of my room. This makes me feel less isolated and disconnected from the people who have my back. 

2- Spend an evening  in your hotel: take a long shower and drink a bottle of water. Running through airports, train stations, city buses, and subways is not as glamours as our instagram photos may appear. It’s actually very dirty and very dehydrating. Give yourself a guilt free night to clean up and hydrate your body. I also recommend traveling with lotion; the processed air hurts the skin. 

3- Journal. Take time every day to reflect on your journey. What have you experienced, what have you learned? Gain insight into yourself, and never forget your adventures. 

4- Exercise. The need to excerice as self care in normal life is obvious. But it is also important while traveling. I’m not saying you need to go on a 10 mile run (unless that is what you enjoy) or find a gym to lift weights. But I am saying to take a hike or rent a bike for a day. Explore other modes of seeing your location than buses and taxis. A way that stretches your legs and connects you to nature. 

5- Implement your spirituality practices. Visit a local church, engage in prayer, practice yoga, implement breath work. Whatever your spiritual practice is that keeps you grounded in your purpose- implement it. You won’t regret giving time to your practice! 

Mirroring to Insta

I am starting on a new adventure to mirror my blog and my instagram together more. Follow me on insta (fr33sp1r1t.traveler). All of my travel photos have a second version behind them sharing mental health stats and self care strategies. You will notice my photos have a pink hue to them- this is pink is a known color of compassion, nurture, insight, and empathy. My core values as a professional, a person, and a traveler. 

Thank you to all my followers. 



Hiking Kansas City: South Shore Trail



Believe it or not; there are many good hiking spots in Kansas City. I’ve recently been wandering the trails of Shawnee Mission Park. I started with the dog park trails, for obvious reasons. My last adventure was the South Shore trail


Sadly, I was not able to hike the whole 3 miles; we recently had a major storm and the trail was really just a mud bath. I desperately wanted to play with our new Canon however, and the weather was beautiful.

I cannot speak much to the quality of the trail on a normal day. Or to the adventures that await further down the trail. But I can speak to (more like show) some of the beauty I was able to bare witness too.

Of course, some time near water is always worth the hike too. Glad to start getting some practice with the new camera before our upcoming trip!

Hotel Review: Old Nickle

The first night I ever spent in Europe was at the Old Nickle hotel in Amsterdam. Let me sum this up by saying if I return to Amsterdam, I will be staying at Old Nickle, and I always recommend it to those on their way.

Follow this link to book a room and read reviews of others.

The rooms are located above a small and quaint pub that is clearly only visited by the locals. This initially really turned me off for fear of loud, sleepless, nights. But that was never the case. The locals were always nice and the bartender/owner helped us out of several travel pofaws we found ourselves enthralled. 

We stayed in a room with 3 beds. The beds were incredibly comfortable. Honestly cannot stress that point enough. They were amazing. Maybe that is the hangover effect of a sleepless jet plane, but I stand by my review. 

The only down side to be prepared for when staying here, you will be sharing the bathroom with the other bedrooms on the floor, as in true hostel form. Lucky for us, noone else was on our floor! So all those post pub crawl nights of consequences were not an inconvience to anyone but ourselves. 


Oh, The Places you Will (unfortunately) Go.

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.” – Dr. Seuss

It’s an unspoken, and not always followed rule, in the travel blogging community to write about travel experiences in a positive light. To enlighten each other about the culture, food, photography, hotels, ext of a new place is the goal. Yet today, I want to give space to those places I have been, that just didn’t do it for me. I am sure others will disagree with this list, and have great memories to share that were created in these cities. Yet for me, I will likely pass next time someone suggests a travel spot.

I’ll start with cities in the USA:

  1. Las Vegas, NV

I’ve been to Vegas a few times, in 2013 for a friends 21st birthday and again in 2016 for my brother’s wedding. My second trip to Vegas did come close to redeeming the city for me, buuuuuutttt, it’s still on my not-so-impressed city list. My 2013 trip, a friends 21st birthday, sounds like a great idea expect that it was 104 degrees the whole time (no exaggeration), we had a group of 10 people who couldn’t agree on what to do or how much money to spend, and I was the oldest in the bunch. I also got food poisoning right before the flight back to KC… nothing quiet as terrible as throwing up on an airplane. My second trip to Vegas, also included me throwing up on public transportation- a bus this time however, because my blood sugars crashed. Advice to self for the next socailly required trip to Vegas: Go hiking in the red rocks, avoid throwing up.


*In Nevada, only 31% of adults with mental health issues receive treatment*


2. Brason, MO

Branson is probably not a place that anyone reading this blog has ever thought to travel too but just in case you’re thinking about it, don’t. Branson is the town that gives Missouri the phrase “The Show-Me State.” It is basically, the mid-west and mid-western version of Las Vegas. Filled with live shows, music, and bars. It’s most known for its park, Silver Dollar City. My parent’s own time share in Branson, so to say I have spent a decent amount of time here would be an understatement. These trips are often dripping in family drama and unsettled arguments. It’s not a bad spot to get away and isolate for a long-weekend if you live near by. But don’t go out of your way. It’s only saves for me are a) table rock lake, located just north of the city and b) the fish hatchery.

*Relaxation reduces stress and the symptoms of mental health conditions like depression,anxiety and schizophrenia.*

3. Seattle, WA

My so-so experience in Seattle probably has more to do with my preset expectations of the city than my actual experience. Overall my time in Seattle was not plagued with family drama, vomit, or robbery but there were not highlight moments like one expects from such an overly talked about and evaluated city. A must-do: The sculpture garden and space needle (duh). If I must go back, I plan to make a hike part of the experience. Less time City, More time Mountains always makes travel better. Spokane was a much better representation of Washington for me.

*A large number of studies in the past few decades support a link between creativity and mental illnesses. Read more here *

4. Paris, France

I feel as though Paris is a rather polarizing city when it comes to the “like/dislike” conversation. I have sucumbed to the fact that I must give Paris another chance since my experience was only a day long. I saw that Eiffel tower, Notre Dam, ate good food, went shopping, and had a group try to pick pocket me. It was a truly awful experience that makes me never want to go back: A group of teens/young adults surrounded me with clipboards held around my face, banging and screaming to distract me, so they could get my phone. Luckly, I knew what was going on, and got my phone back. But I now have, a very small desire, to ever return. Seeing the Louvre is the only reason I would go back.

*French people are the most likely to suffer from a “major depressive episode” in their lifetimes (article)*

Other places that could also make this list: Cancun MX and Vancouver CN. What are places you have been less than impressed with during your travels?

Hiking Kansas City: Blue River Parkway




One of my goals from last year, and moving into this year, is to explore the world that exists in my own town, my backyard, my daily life. Part of this adventure, has been exploring the hiking trails of Kansas City. More often than not, I end up at the Blue River Parkway.

There are several trail routes within the Blue River parkway: The river trail, basement trail, oxbow trail, lydia trail, and more. I have posts on some of these trails individually- follow the links if you are interested. These trails are created and maintained by the community that uses them. Most communication is done through their facebook page! It’s pretty amazing actually.

I never realized how great the hiking trails in KC could actually be. Sure, there’s no mountain view, red rock formations, or ocean coastline. However, there are hills, nature, animals, waters, and a good ole’ hiking experience.

I truly believe this is a MUST DO trail in kansas city.

Hiking Kansas City: River trail in winter 

I’ve hiked the river trail before. It’s one of my favorites and I enjoy seeing it change with the seasons, and ware of others footsteps.

When the days are hard and the weeks are long, there is nothing more healing than a breathe of fresh air and a touch of the water. Water is such a magical thing.

Every time you touch a stream of water, there is a chance you are touching the ocean. Think of all the places that drop of water could have been: the ocean, the attic, the sky, the coasts of spain, the gils of a rainbow fish, the lake top of a volcano. This is why water is so healing, so magical. It regrounds us. It reconnects us. It makes as one with each other and the world around us.

I hope these photos of the river and the woods Hybeenating away the winter, can rejuivante you as much as it did me.

Restaurant Review: Brio, Kansas City. 

Brio, a small Tuscan grille located on the Plaza in KC MO. I must confess, I’ve ate happy hour here many times, and never wrote a review. This past week, I finally went during their lunch hours with a co-worker. This means no view pictures that only occur on the happy hour floor. But, enjoy some food photos. 

PS: try the imported peach tea. It’s worth it.