Just starting to write this post was an incredibly difficult task. Believe it or not, I have been putting off writing regularly for almost a year now due to an incredibly traumatic experience I had while away on my last major trip. Fortunately, I have come to realize that it’s time to get out of my own way and stop letting my trauma define me. So, let me tell you the story of how I stopped travel writing for nearly a year.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a travel writer getting to experience wonderful things with the people I love, meet new friends, try an abundance of new things, and share my experiences with the world so other people can get out there and have a fantastic time as well. But when I went to Africa last year, everything changed.
I travelled to Zambia to visit friends, the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, to experience their culture, spend some time with the children in the community school, help the sisters create digital content, and teach digital literacy skills. All of those experiences were wonderful beyond my wildest dreams. The people I met in Zambia were among the most kind and loving people I have ever met and I now have a giant list of exciting things I never would have experienced had I not taken that trip.
In addition to visiting the sisters, I decided I would take a trip to Livingstone so that I could write about it for some of the publications I work with. As a freelancer, I decided to reach out to companies individually to book excursions. I have done this in the past with great success and had no reason to believe that I would not be able to trust providers. I suppose that’s what comes from being trusting and, unfortunately, perhaps a bit naïve.
I’ll spare you the gory details (unless you’d like to read about it here), but essentially I ended up on class 5 rapids on the Zambezi River very much without realising what we were walking into. We were lied to, harassed, and almost killed in multiple ways. My best friend, who was only there because I dragged her along with me for the adventure, was trapped under a raft in raging waters for over two minutes. I legitimately thought that I had killed her until he saw her ten minutes later when she was rescued by another tour company. There’s more but even just writing about it is making me ill. So let’s move on from that.
Now, with that said, every time I went to write after that moment, I had overwhelming anxiety. Once I realised that this was happening, I knew I needed to address the issue instead of letting it control me. I’ve spent countless hours working on integrating the trauma from that experience, doing shadow work, and making sure that moving forward with travel writing was still a good option for me. I wish I had realised earlier how much that day had affected so that I didn’t have to lose so many months of travel opportunities, but I’m glad that I have identified the issue and that I used that down time to curate many wonderful experiences for myself and my family closer to home.
I’m happy to report that travel writing absolutely is still something I’m incredibly passionate about. I have already started planning new adventures and making schedules for releasing those that have already happened. I’m ready to get back out there and share my journeys with the world, and this experience has definitely managed to make me just a bit more discerning and hopefully wise enough that I will be much more careful about how I book my trips and excursions in the future.