At 18 years old, Logan Anderson found himself on a plane, headed for Nova Scotia, with only a backpack filled with camping gear. For Anderson, who suffers from depression and social anxiety, making the commitment to travel alone across the country, and far outside his comfort zone, was a daunting task.
But after spending a month camping along the Atlantic Ocean, Anderson brought home a new, more confident mindset.
“The change in environment, being in nature, it was comforting in ways that regular counselling wasn’t,” says Anderson, a Victoria resident. “It’s a different kind of therapy.”
Now at 24, and having spent his summers traveling North America and Europe, Anderson wants to bring others suffering from mental health issues into that same headspace.
For the past six months, Anderson has been laying out plans for Halcyon Backpacking, a travel company focussed on well-being. His goal is to have five- to 25- day excursions through nature and cities, led by not only a tour guide, but a professional counsellor, who would lead group sessions around a campfire or on the lake after a hike.
Each travel group would be made of people suffering from the same set of mental health issues, though he notes the goal of the trips is to create a fun atmosphere rather than feeling like a medical outing.
“Most youth tours are very party-oriented, and that can be really intimidating for some people,” says Anderson. “The whole industry doesn’t really think about mental illness. The main barrier people think about is money, but for a lot of people it’s not just money — it’s confidence.”
Anderson, who keeps a travel blog, says that he’s been gathering ideas on how to break that barrier from readers who haven’t been able to travel themselves.
Halcyon Backpacking is seeking investors, and Anderson hopes to have several west coast and maritime trips running next summer, before expanding into central Canada and the U.S.
He says that while he’s garnered the interest of a lot of hopeful-travelers, the company is still a long ways away from meeting its financial goals.
“I’m a lot more confident in my daily life because of travelling, and I’m optimistic,” Anderson says. “I’ve had tremendous support so far, this really is something a lot of people have been waiting for.”