Moving on: How to Leave a Place Without Stress

According to Buddhism, the root of all suffering is attachment – wisdom you may certainly understand when it’s time to leave your travel destination.  Considering that a certain beach, park, hotel, or other favorite locale existed only in your imagination weeks before, your connection to a place and reluctance to leave can be intense.  Managing these feelings is important since you don’t want them to overcome the joy of having seen them in the first place – or as the pessimistic traveler laments, Why come if I only have to leave? 

It’s not uncommon to get downright morose when you have to wind down an incredible vacation at a place you’ve fallen in love with.  The following thoughts might go through your mind:

  • Ÿ         Will I ever come here again?
  • Ÿ         What will happen here after I leave?
  • Ÿ         How will this place change without me?  Can it be “mine?”
  • Ÿ         Does it matter that I ever came here?

These feelings and doubts can resemble separation anxiety.  How significant this anxiety is depends on

  1. how much of an emotional connection you’ve made to a place, and
  2. how difficult it is to physically make your way back to it.

The answers to those two questions can vary widely, but here are some general recommendations for moving on without trauma.

Leave a piece of yourself.  More tourists than would care to admit leave a part of themselves behind at a place they love – anything from a strand of hair to engravings on a tree, to things that border on defacement or ecological damage.  An environmentally friendly way to leave your mark is to pen your name and the date on a small, loose rock and put it back where it was on a trail or thoroughfare.

Take a piece with you.  There’s a reason that the souvenir industry is valued at billions of dollars; people want a symbol or a token of their experience somewhere, even if their only “connection” with it was at a local club.  If you don’t care for either synthetic, mass-produced trinkets or museum-type expensive souvenirs, then take a piece of a place, literally: some stones, shells, a feather, or a piece of wood or bark.  Holding these items long after you’ve left can put you back in the moment of your tremendous experience.

Keep a travel log.  No, not your blog, but something more personal, something only for you.  A travel log doesn’t have to take the form of a written journal; depending on how much you (don’t) like to write, you can tape- or video-record your experiences and impressions.  Another option is to keep a notebook, but only record the facts, events, and people you encountered each day.  Your memory will fill in the rest of the details as you mentally journey back later on.

You can also draw on a map where you went, with brief notes at each street or block that will remind you of something special; or pick a new piece of music to play while you are enjoying the place, that will always remind you of where you were when you first heard it.

Virtual visits.  If your time at a place is too limited for you to manage a travel log, note that there are thousands of YouTube internet videos featuring beloved travel sites, and they are viewable by anyone.  Some of them are amazingly done and might even showcase something you never noticed about a place.  Although it’s not going to be as special or personalized as something you put together, knowing you can make a “virtual visit” can help you move on.

Plan to return.  Promise yourself to come back to the place.  If you’ve come once, you can come again, and most incredible sites don’t just get up and leave.  They can evolve, however, so keep abreast of the place by going to its webpage.  If you find out that it’s destined to change (and not necessarily to your liking), time an upcoming visit to enjoy it one more time as you remembered it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s time to leave.  Can I just take this whole beach home with me?

4 thoughts on “Moving on: How to Leave a Place Without Stress

  1. Gosh this is a good post. I like the idea of writing one’s name on a stone. In certain places, you can get into trouble if you take parts of nature, and of course, we are not allowed to bring a lot of stuff back here to my country, (Australia) unfortunately, due to customs regulations. The alternative type of travel log is an idea I am definitely going to use. Keep up the great work.

  2. Different countries definitely have different rules. I collected about 30 shells at Bondi Beach in Sydney a couple years ago. When I realized I couldn’t take them out of Australia because of strict regulations, I ended up giving them to the receptionist at the YWCA. Boy was she thrilled 🙂

  3. The best souvenirs are photographs 😀 When your memories start to fade, they remind you of just how great your time there was !

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