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Why Travel Is an Important Part of My Autistic Identity

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Wanderlust. A word that just rolls off the tongue. It means the desire to travel. Such a definition definitely applies to me.

Travel is everything to me. It is one of the many passions I have in life. Every year, I save what I can so that I can visit a different destination, whether it be international or domestic. So far, my wanderlust has taken me to many places. From the deserts of Arizona to the castles of Ireland, to the ruins of Rome, to the mountains of the Blue Ridge near Asheville, to the countryside of the Cotswolds, to the streets of London. I can go on and on about the sights I’ve seen, the cultures and histories that I’ve learned, and the many dishes I’ve tasted. With the more traveling I do, it has come across to me that not only do I love to travel as a passion, but it also helps me as an autistic, neurodivergent adult.

When I travel, I notice that my social anxiety is less prevalent than it would be if I was at home. I feel that the reason for this would be that I am engaged on a journey, for knowledge, which would include learning about others. In each place I go to, I meet new people. I get to learn about who they are as a person. Throughout my many adventures, I have come across many new people some of which are locals while others are on a journey themselves. This investment has many times superseded my social anxiety. This, in turn, helps me to better understand the social cues of others. As an autistic person, the lack of understanding of social cues has always been a struggle for me. However, by meeting people during my travels, I can get a better grasp of such skills.

Another way that traveling suits me as an autistic person is because my focused interests are at play. It is well known that many autistic individuals have narrowed interests that make them who they are. For me, they include history, culture, nature, art, and music. By traveling to different places, I am able to embrace my interests in full throttle. I get to see historic sites, ancient ruins, art museums, cultural festivals, rock clubs, and landscapes that enrich my excitement. I feel that I can take a chance when I travel and enjoy every moment of it.

No matter where I go, I know that traveling to new places helps me to embrace my interests and helps to decrease any social anxieties. I still have a long life ahead of me and I know that traveling is something I truly want to continue with as an autistic person. I’ve packed my bags and I’m ready to go.

Getty image by Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm

Originally published: December 1, 2022
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