For the longest time I have tried to think back to the moment that I started to love to travel. How awesome of a story that would be if I could remember the exact place that I fell in love with it all, the wonder, the uncertainty, the thrill of traveling. But much like all of real-life, it’s not that poetic and I can’t remember.
What I remember most of traveling is doing a lot of it growing up. My parents love vacations and when we were kids, they loved to give us those experiences as well. My dad has always had the “wanderlust”(that I’ve come to learn you either have it, or you don’t… I’ll get more to that later). But on top of both of these things, I think what really set the stage for my need for adventure was that I come from a family of movers. My parents both moved growing up and with us, it was no different. Covering the mid-west by the time I went off to college never brought that much time to understand the obsession with “home sweet home.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love home. But to me, home was never a set location, a plot of land, or four walls with a roof, it was where my mom, my dad, my two brothers and I were altogether. That was my “home sweet home.” House, apartment, hotel room, whatever, that’s where home was. Looking back, I truly wouldn’t change it for the world, even though when I was in it, I vowed I would never put my kids through boxing up their Pokemon cards that many times.
I never tied roots to a house or even a state for that matter and I think this is where my traveling obsession began. I have never been afraid to go to a different city, meet new people, and live life somewhere else. In fact, I live for it. I purposely put myself in situations where I can go to a new place. Which brings me to the infamous “wanderlust.”
I had never heard of this term until I was in a college English class and the girl who would lend me her notes had it tattooed on her left wrist (I know, I’m late to the game, it’s fine). But I remember being perplexed by her tattoo. Wander-lust? I have always loved to travel, but lust? Really? What I didn’t realize then, but I do now, is that wanderlust is a fad that used in the correct conversation, amongst the most infuriating people, makes me want to vomit (remember I hate clichés?) But I don’t want to talk about the wanderlust of spending three weeks hopping from hostel to hostel sleeping your way through European men that I saw during my study abroad semester in Spain. No, true wanderlust, or at least the wanderlust that I have come to adopt as acceptable in my life, is an innate quality that you are either born with…or not.
So what is wanderlust in my life? To me it is the deep desire to wander and be humbled by the wonders of the world. Poetic right? What I mean is that when I allow myself to wander in an area that is foreign to me and that I have to merely experience instead of controlling every situation, I am able to see the jaw-dropping beauty that is around me and I am humbled by it.
It wasn’t until I was actually applying to study abroad that I realized there were people in this world that didn’t want to travel. And what shocked me the most, was that I realized one of those people was my mother. Now, my mom loves to stay in hotels. Go out to restaurants and drink good wine. But she doesn’t see the value or the reason for spending your life savings and flying across the ocean. She has no strong desire to see the Great Wall of China, no life-long dream of seeing Paris at night, and definitely no comfort in the revving sounds of an airplane engine. This isn’t to say my mom won’t go and see these things, she doesn’t have a sense of dire biological need to go like I do. However, it should be noted, she did come to Spain this year and she loved every minute…maybe she might have a little wanderlust? Maybe?!
After learning that travel was one of the things my mom and I didn’t have in common, I started to realize there were a ton of people like her. Non-wander-ers are more common than you would think. Once I started to realize that there were people who didn’t feel it was their soul’s destiny to fill up every page of their passport, I began to question my motives. Why did I feel this strongly about uprooting myself from every city that I fell in love with? Why do I have to see the Swiss Alps someday in my life? What is the point?
The truth is, I don’t have the answers to all those questions. There is a strong part of me that wants to settle down and stop saying goodbye to all the people that I love so dearly…the downside of creating strong relationships all over the world is that you have to leave those people eventually.
But what I do know is that there is something about being lost in a foreign country, stumbling on an adorable hidden cafe with only locals, living with people whose daily life is so drastically different than my own, and making connections with people from all walks of life, allows me to constantly learn about myself and grow into a better human being (cliché ALERT).
The point is, whether you’re a traveler or not, you have to do what your heart wants. Stop fooling yourself by saying “I would love to travel, but don’t have the money.” Trust me, if you value something, nothing will stand in your way from getting what you want. Figure out who you are and run with it.
Trust me, you’ll pay off your credit card eventually 🙂