Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'm Afraid I May be Suffering from the Long Term Affects of Wanderlust

While many people complain about all the things that go wrong on their travels, I am always the first to say that the only thing I hate about any trip is coming home. Things go wrong while traveling. It’s inevitable. It’s unavoidable. And its always a learning experience and something to talk about (and maybe even laugh) later. Going home after a trip is something that often comes too soon but it is only at that moment when my bags are packed and I’m sitting at the airport waiting for my return flight that I really feel down. Most times, while I am waiting for that last flight, I am secretly hoping it will be delayed or cancelled or that I will end up stuck in transit due to a snowstorm or volcanic eruption so that my trip can be extended a little bit longer. To me, wandering around aimlessly in an airport beats going back to the cold weather and my day job in Atlantic Canada. And once I do get home, I experience travel withdrawal – better known as Wanderlust.

This state of impending Wanderlust usually starts the day before I am due to board my plane back home. That last day spent wandering around my destination and taking it all in one last time is also spent dreading the moment when I have to say goodbye to the beach, the cafĂ© where I took my daily coffee and the resort or hostel that was my home away from home. I know it sounds insane when I say I hope for delays once I arrive at the airport but, to me, delays are an extended vacation. I actually enjoy wandering around airports. I like listening to the different languages, watching people rushing around trying to figure out where they should be going or racing to meet someone, browsing the boutique shops, getting lost and finding neat little cafes or hangouts and watching the planes take off to foreign lands. If my flight happens to be on time, I’m disappointed because that means I will be back home sooner than later and my trip will be over.
This state of Wanderlust remains for a long time I get home. In fact, I don’t think it every really goes away; it usually remains until I leave for my next trip. When I really think about it, I believe I was born with this affliction…I seem to have always been, and still always am in a state of perpetual Wanderlust. I blame my parents, even though they often complain about my constant state of unsettledness that sees me moving from place to place and job to job and my constant need to be always going somewhere, but never really settling anywhere…or with anyone for that matter. I’ve grown to be very independent and adventurous so working a 9-5 job at the same place year after year and staying home watching TV night after night is boring and uninspiring to me.

I’ve never been scared to try new things and I’ve never been scared to do anything on my own. I learned at any early age that if I sit around waiting for other people to do things with me, those things may never get done so I set out on my own. As a child, when the other kids were playing video games, I played outside alone. The day I got my first car at age 17, I drove two hours just to get a coffee. By the time I was 19, I was already taking weekly trips two hours out of town to my favorite national park to spend the weekend camping…alone. Back than, people thought I was crazy but they often told me they wished they could do the same. I find it strange when I hear someone saying they can’t do something because they are afraid or because they don’t want to go alone. These days, they think I am even more foolish than ever! My adventures, as of late, have taken me much further than two hours out of town; I’ve traveled all over the continent as a solo, female traveler. But traveling alone has never bothered me. In fact, I love traveling alone!

It’s been almost a year since I last went on a trip outside of Canada. Work obligations and a lack of funds have kept me closer to home as of late. However, my constant state of travel withdrawal and wanderlust will not have me in one place for long! I have plans…big plans. The problem is putting those plans into action. I have a bit of a head start on that. For starters, I am constantly thinking about travel and where I will travel next. Lately, with the awful winter we have had on Canada’s east coast, I’ve been dreaming of taking a trip down south. I had my eyes set on Barbados for Spring Break but, unfortunately, due to foul weather and work obligations, I was unable to go. This is the first winter since 2008 that I have not traveled to a warm climate to spend a week lying on the beach and enjoying some much needed sunshine that is quite rare this time of year in Canada. Now, I am gone into full-blown travel research mode even though I have no direct plans on going anywhere until at least the summer. I spend my days daydreaming of where to go next. So far, I have it narrowed down to The Grand Canyon and Las Vegas in June, Newfoundland in July and Europe in the late summer or fall…if all goes as planned – not that I ever make real laid-out plans. These plans could go out the window if I get called to work through the summer. So far, my summer is free but that could change any moment. But even with the possibility of work coming up, I have been racking my brain trying to come up with ideas on how to approach my superiors about taking time off (without pay, of course) to go on at least one of these trips. My nights are usually spent like this as well. Can’t sleep? Stare at the ceiling and think about where I will travel next!

When I am not daydreaming about travel, I am actually putting things into action. I have always loved travel so much that I became a freelance travel writer! I figured why not write about the thing I like to do most and combine my two passions; writing and traveling. When writer’s block sets in or I just don’t feel like doing any work, I start researching travel. I spend many hours searching for travel deals, doing research on the best destinations to travel to, learning more about destinations I am interested in traveling to, watching videos about travel destinations and reading just about anything I come across that has to do with travel. I even sign up for various travel newsletters so I don’t miss out on any new developments in the travel industry!

Other aspects of my life are taken up by travel as well. I love to read but it seems that every book I buy is related to travel in some way. Actually, even the books I receive as gifts from friends and family are travel related. I guess my constant ramblings about past trips and reminiscing about my days on the road tipped them off to the sort of books I would be most likely interested in reading. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are getting tired of me constantly rambling about my past and future travels. I read everything; books about epic road trips by other travelers, city guides, destination guides, travel industry news, travel tips…you name it. If it’s about travel, I will read it!

Another favorite pastime of mine (also travel related, of course!) is trying to find ways to get free or discounted trips and trying to find ways to make extra money to afford to go on more trips. I search for contests that offer trips to be won and bookmark the ones that can be entered daily so they are right there, ready to be filled out every morning! I already won a trip to Costa Rica last year! Because I am a freelance travel writer, I play that card to score free accommodations and other freebies related to travel. This may sound a bit sinister or even selfish on my part, but, trust me, various hotels and tour providers have gained from my services. For example, during that trip to Costa Rica, I offered my services as a travel blogger to a hotel, a resort and a tour company. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the trip and what these businesses had to offer so once I got home, I blogged and posted reviews and wrote articles to promote them and draw in more potential customers to their business. I got free hotel stays and tours and, in return, they got free promotion. I am an obsessive collector of frequent flyer miles and I avail of every opportunity and coupon I come across. In order to find out about deals, offers and new developments in the travel industry, I obsessively add anyone and anything that has to do with travel to my Facebook and Twitter accounts so I don’t miss out on anything.
I am not lazy by any means but I am not partial to the 9-5, wake up-eat-work-sleep-repeat routine. Fortunately, I long ago developed a skill that allows me to work seasonal jobs. For a few months of the year that I don’t have a “real” job, I live off the income I make from freelancing. This works out great for me; I can make money on the side of my real job, save up for travel and travel on the months I have off every year! In the past, I have a lot of odd jobs online. Market research, mystery shopping, book reviewing and selling items on Ebay were just some of the things I have done to make a few extra bucks to use towards my travels.

So I guess it’s safe to say that I am suffering from the long term effects of Wanderlust. It has, after all been over a year since I left the country and embarked on any sort of extended journey. I mean, I have taken a few short trips around home to try and satisfy my itchy feet and prevent myself from going completely stir crazy but I am way past due for another epic adventure far away from the comfort zone of home.

If you are a traveler who has recently found yourself stuck in one place for too long, you may now be wondering if you, as well, may be suffering from the effects of Wanderlust. Here are some of the signs that you have a bad case of this affliction. Are you exhibiting any of these signs?

1) You live and breath travel. Everything you do revolves around travel somehow.
2) You find yourself browsing Netflix for international flicks that are filmed in your favorite travel destinations or destinations you would like to travel to.
3) You watch foreign films in different languages other than your own…without subtitles.
4) You find yourself looking up common words and phrases in languages of the countries you would like to visit.
5) You interact, online, with people who are from the countries you would like visit. Sometimes you even add them to your Facebook or Twitter account.
6) You only search for jobs in the travel industry or jobs that require you to travel as part of your workload.
7) You research destinations just for the hell of it.
8) You are always on the look out for travel deals and promotions…even if you have no direct plans to travel.
9) You know every little tool and trick to get you through customs easier, to avoid being scammed by cabbies in foreign lands, to score a deal on a hotel, attraction or tour and how to get properly lost in a foreign city.
10) You know more about distant lands than you do about your own backyard.
11) You hang out at the coffee shop in your local airport and watch the travelers coming and going and airplanes taking off and landing…even though you have no plans on going anywhere yourself.
12) You always have someone lined up to look after your place and feed your pets if you have to leave at a moment’s notice.
13) Your cell phone contact list is loaded with important phone numbers you need while traveling – your insurance provider, various airlines, emergency contacts, various embassies, hotels you stay at frequently, credit card customer service numbers, etc
14) You have a suitcase already half packed with various travel items so it is almost ready to go at any moment.
15) You have your local airport shuttle service on speed dial…or you dial it so much, you know it by heart!
16) Under no circumstance will you EVER allow your passport to expire. That’s just plain stupid. You have a need to be at the ready at all times to just jump on a plane and fly away. You see your passport as your ticket to freedom.

Well, I can proudly (or sadly, depending on how you look at it) say that I have exhibited all of the above symptoms. You might say I am obsessed…I say there are worse things I could be obsessed with. Travel is a healthy obsession that I think everyone should indulge in! I always say “experiences are more important than material things” and I am living proof of that. I have sold or given away many of my material possessions and the things I remember most about my life thus far are not things at all, but the experiences that made it all worthwhile!

1 comment:

Hannah Wasielewski said...

I can totally relate to this post. I usually enjoy being home for the first week to eat the food I missed, see my family and my cats, and tell everyone stories about my adventures. This wears off in about 10 days then I'm ready to get out again. What keeps me going is knowing that I have another trip planned, which it sounds like you have quite a lot planned for the future!


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