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Posted by on May 15, 2013 | 32 comments

Travel To Escape Reality

Beautiful doorway Chianti Italy @PennySadler 2013

Have you ever booked a last minute trip to a place that was several time zones away, where people don’t speak English, don’t use the same currency – and if you’re truly honest with yourself about the whole thing, you can’t afford it?

Have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of money just to get away from your life and all the things that go with it?

I’m considering doing just that. I need to get out of my own head. I need a break from the person I’ve become the past few months, feeling like a hamster on the wheel.

I’ve tried breathing, exercising, talking to friends, making gratitude lists, and it all works for a little while, but not long.

Tuscan country house, Chianti, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

“Must it be out of the country?” I ask myself. It would be easier to stay in the U.S. I wouldn’t have to change currency, deal with the long flights, the plane changes, the jet lag from crossing several times zones. I wouldn’t have to worry about roaming charges or keeping up with my passport, and I could speak English. But of course, my thoughts generally go to Italy.

But I can justify all of those inconveniences. In my mind, speaking a little Italian is a pleasure, and the worst thing about the euro is my dollars are worth less. I can call my cell phone provider and have roaming temporarily disconnected.

I don’t love the jet lag, but I know I’ll live, I’ve done it before.

Charming street in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

So I’m thinking maybe the way out of my funk, maybe the way I get “my groove back” is to Go to Italy. I can visualize myself walking down some ancient cobblestone street, camera in hand, thousands of years of history all around me. I notice everything around me, sculptures by Bernini, 17th century buildings next to 12th century ruins. I notice people and try to guess where they might be from – are they tourists, like me, or locals? I eat a gelato and I don’t think about the calories or the fact that it’s dairy and I shouldn’t eat too much dairy. Dairy be damned! I’m in Italy! Without even being conscious of it, I begin to feel better – more attractive, more a part of the world. I’m living life, not going through the motions.

The parts of myself that stress me out begin to recede. Along the way I find the better parts, the Penny who is fun, and funny, and spontaneous, and curious, and who knows, it is insane to resist what is. And sometimes all it takes is a complete stranger who smiles and says, “Ciao Bella,” – or a cappuccino.
Italian style cappuccino @PennySadler 2103

All material copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.

  1. We went to Italy for 2 weeks in April and it was genuinely an escape! Would love to go back sometime. For quick getaways, we go to Las Vegas – pure entertainment.

  2. Hi Penny! Just saw this post over on the Women of Midlife FB page and the topic caught my mind. Did you go after writing this a year ago? Just curious.

    I too love to travel and have definitely done it when I didn’t have the money. But what I have learned is that when you come back not only do you have a new pile of debt that you have to pay–you have to “come back.” What I’ve learned to do is “rightsize” my life to eliminate all the things I used to try to get away from (a job I didn’t like, high debt, etc.) and now I have plenty of time and resources to travel to places like Italy and live there for a month or two at a time. Now that’s not escaping reality–it’s creating a new reality that’s much more satisfying. Anyway, I LOVED your photos. Thanks for sharing your love of travel. ~Kathy

    • Kathy I like your style. I’d love to talk to you more about “rightsize.”

      • Anytime Penny! It’s one of my favorite subjects. I actually believe it is what people in other countries do without calling it anything–they live well within their means and live a more “slow” and thoughtful lifestyle than most Americans. By scaling down to what matters the most I think we can all have more resources to do what makes our heart sing. Including travel! ~Kathy

      • I will say, I’ve never regretted one dollar spent on travel. 🙂

  3. Ahh… Just reading this — and seeing the FABulous photos! — elicited a peaceful feeling. I hope you found your way out of the funk!

  4. Do it. If something calls that strongly you MUST do it. Sometimes a change of scenery for a while does the trick even if reality is still there at home. I just wouldn’t go into debt to do it, I’d find a way to do it with resources on hand. Bon voyage!

  5. I have 2 theories on this.
    If you are travelling because you are keen to see the world and you are in need of a holiday go for it.
    However if you are travelling because you are hoping that travelling will somehow change your world, making it an easier place to come back to, then your probably not going for the right motives. Because while it is a life changing event ultimately you will come back and you will still be the same person.

  6. I would say: go for it. Idea: fly to Peru. Lots of cultural sites (besides Machu Picchu…) and architecture to admire and you would avoid the jet lag because of the similar or same timezone as the U.S.

    Love your website, looks attractive and is inspiring.

    • Hi there, I did it, but went for the jetlag. 🙂 Attractive and inspiring is good! Appreciate the comments.

  7. I want to escape here too. Beautiful place…so much adventure waiting to happen.

  8. Once I saw a friend who travelled to escape his ‘something’ that was bothering him – he had a psychological breakdown whilst halfway across the world because he didn’t deal with it first.

    In 2012 I decided to travel full-time because I was seriously depressed and not happy with my life was progressing.

    I’m somewhere on the fence of ‘should you or shouldn’t you’ leave something behind and fly of somewhere awesome because I’ve seen both sides of it. I guess it really depends on the ‘something’ you’re escaping, whether it’s a rut or something entirely bigger.

    • Hi Dale, It’s not that serious. I planned my Italy trip for later this year. for now, I’ll be in Dallas, California and that’s pretty much it until September. 🙂 Nice insight though and I really appreciate it!

  9. I can totally relate! Sometimes you need to get away from the familiar to take stock of who you are, and where you’re going. Enjoy Italy!

    • Update for anyone interested, have decided to postpone Italy until September. Will be better organized and more funds. 🙂 But a good post came out of it so I’m happy.

  10. Go for it, Penny! Travel is a great way to break out of a funk. I recommend enrolling in language emersion program. I had been quite depressed when I first moved to Mexico, but I was in language classes for three hours a day and then my brain would stay “in Spanish” for a while. I couldn’t think depressing thoughts because I quite simply didn’t have the vocabulary! It was a literal brainwashing, in the best possible sense.
    Good luck!

  11. Being Italian I can only feel very flattered that you choose Italy as the place that will make you feel better and bring back the best part of you. That is something that travel can do and sometimes does to me too.
    Whatever this trip brings you, make sure you take it back and keep it with you once you are at home again 🙂

    • I think a lot of people do, which is why I wrote this. Thanks for reading!

  12. Change of scenery is always good. I’ve done a few of these ‘escapes’ before. They’ve given me much of the needed breaks from the routine.

  13. I know how you feel. The problem I have is that reality is always there when I get back.

    • Oh what fun! Just think of all the trouble we could make! 🙂

  14. When I lived in London it was great to know that I could catch the Eurostar or a budget airline and within 2 or 3 hours be in a completely different environment, such as a weekend in Italy or Morocco. Something I very much miss about living in Europe.

  15. I love this, Penny. I think that travel not only gives you a glimpse of another life, but brings balance to your own. Brava!

    • Thanks! Yes, it never fails to work for me. 🙂

  16. well that’s how it is isn’t it Claudia? where have you gone?


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