‘Wanderlust’ is a word that has saturated the interwebs and taken on a life of clichéd proportions, but yet there is no better word that describes the feeling that has fuelled me for the past decade of my life. To break it down simply, it is an unexplainable lust to wander – for wandering; an inability to stay attached to any one place for too long, whether physically, mentally or emotionally. I often feel like I am mentally incapable of being faithful to one place.
The urge to travel is engrained within me and its hold on me is undeniable. It’s not about being able to get away from work for a few weeks – although as you get older, those weeks away become even more cherished – it’s about exploring, connecting and rediscovering. When it’s been a while between trips, you pine and you long and you daydream, not for a holiday, but to see the world…again. Because it’s never enough.
‘Wanderlust’ is unfortunately insatiable.
Being in the last year of my twenties, I am fully aware of the societal expectation to have life’s checklist checked off: job, house, marriage, kids. You know the drill. I have recently started freelancing and I have just gotten married – but there are no immediate plans to tick off the house and kids box any time soon, much to my mother’s chagrin. And right now, I can’t think of anything more worthwhile to spend my money on other than travel. And, honestly, I’m not sure when I will be able to put anything else before it – much to my husband’s chagrin.
Why though? What is it about travelling? Isn’t it all airport delays and heavy suitcases and tacky souvenirs? Isn’t it home-sickness and longing for your comfortable bed back home?
Yes, sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t. And that is the beauty in it – you never know what experience you are going to have until you go. It’s as simple as that. One person’s paradise is another person’s nightmare, and that’s okay – travelling is, above all, a subjective experience.
I started thinking about the reasons why I travel. Why do I love it so much? Here’s what I came up with.
1. Travel adapts to your current situation
Travel acts as a chameleon, altering at will to cater to your current mindset. It is a shepherd for those in need of guidance, a fling for those seeking a casual affair, a teacher for students wanting to expand their horizons, a soother of pain and heartache, and a crutch for the emotionally wounded. Whatever the intention, travel will enrich the mind, replenish the body and cultivate the soul.
2. Travelling allows you to collect stories
The anecdotal stories that spontaneously arise while travelling will undoubtedly spring up time and time again in your life. Try and count the number of times you’ve started a sentence with, ‘When I was in [insert name of city]….’ These stories are lasting and binding memories, transitory moments that affect people in unique ways but which will have surreptitiously impacted who you are today.
3. Travel broadens your horizons and your mind
Travel opens up your mind and encourages you to question your existing mindset and ideas, and introduces new ways of thinking. You’ll learn about other people, cultures, cities, ways of living and you’ll marvel at all of our differences and take comfort in all of our similarities – because at the end of the day, a smile is a smile anywhere in the world.
4. Travel makes you realise how strong you really are
Travel pushes you to your extreme and sometimes to your limit, and in the process you learn more about yourself and what you are capable of. You’ll realise how brave you really are and you will recognise your strengths and your weaknesses away from the familiarity and routine of everyday life.
5. Travel encourages you to slow down
Travel allows you to slow down: inhale, exhale, repeat. Sometimes we forget to pause, reflect and switch off in the daily grind of life and we end up storing layer upon layer of problems, stresses, conflicts (and not always our own) inside of us. It’s important to occasionally escape from the hustle and bustle to reconnect with your inner self as a means of self-preservation.
6. Travel builds connections
Travel builds connections, whether fleeting, transitory or permanent, and we come across people from all walks of life that we may never have encountered in our everyday lives. You’ll meet inspirational people who you admire, and you’ll meet others who remind you of who you used to be, and those that you don’t want to be. Each and every person will teach you a life lesson, even in the most minor capacity.
7. Travel makes you thankful
Most importantly, travel makes you thankful and grateful for all that you have. And sometimes it takes the act of travelling to make you truly appreciate your ‘home’ wherever that may be.
These are the reasons why I travel.