Could be worse…
No contest here!
It’s never a contest of what to spend money on. If it takes me new places, it gets my hard earned cash.
In the process of trying to decide where to go with a girlfriend. You wouldn’t believe how hard it can be to decide sometimes. Because the world is big, but time and funds are limited. Good thing is, we both want to see pretty much the same kind of things, and are both open to new experiences.
It’s a bitch, when all you want to is to go, but have no idea where to. Or, to quote Alice in Wonderland:
(Alice) “Which road do I take?”
(the Cheshire Cat) “Where do you want to go?”
(Alice) “I don’t know”
(the Cheshire Cat) “Then, it doesn’t matter.”
I stretch out, content – my feet dangling off the edge of the bed, my fingers knocking against the wall behind me. Open my eyes and enjoy the first sunrays of the day slowly dancing over the floor, climbing the covers and caressing my face. Roll over, pull the covers over my head and exhale. Five more minutes…
When you travel alone, as I often do, you get to enjoy solitude. A lot of people don’t know how to, and trust me, it wasn’t all fun and games the very first couple of times I tried it, either, me being an introvert set aside. But the more time you spend with yourself, the more you learn to like it. Like yourself. Like yourself in new experiences, with new people, in new places.
Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.
Traveling alone has its downsides. Nobody to talk to on a regular basis. No safety net when you faulter. No familiar face across the table, or in the airplane seat next to yours. But that’s pretty much it. And the upsides are by far exceeding the downsides.
Not only does the trip now go according to your own, inner clock – you decide when to get up, where to go and what to eat, when – but you get to decide what YOU want to see or do. No middle grounds, no conflicts and no “okay, I’ll go shopping with you for three hours if you come to the football game with me”.
You are now free to explore. The place you are in, restaurant, sights and smells, adventures and nature – and of course, the people! When you travel alone, you soon learn how to be curious of others. Because no matter how much you learn to love your own company, sometimes the voices inside your head aren’t enough, and you need a physical person to talk to. Upside – new friends!
It also gives you excellent time to reflect. This can be scary the first few times you try it – because even though we all seem to reflect over our own lives at times, it’s first when you are alone and forced to sit back and enjoy the ride, when you realize those thoughts that usually gang up and ambush you on idle Tuesday evenings, now have learned their manners and come one by one, gently flowing through your mind. Because you let them.
I’ve spent New Years Eve alone in Prague a couple of years back (not recommended for a newbie lonesome traveler, as New Years is one of the worst days to be all alone at), and spent the time to enjoy myself, enjoy the Central European cuisine, and plan my life. I got heaps of mental work done during that long weekend!
This time, with thoughts ganging up on me, I’m heading towards Germany. To sort through them and be with myself for a while.
Some people get hooked on narcotics. Some have random sex with even more random strangers. Other again drink till they can’t see straight. I, on the other hand, have a completely different addiction, but it too is controlling my life. I can’t get enough of traveling.
I’m not trying to diminish legitimate conditions, comparing them to a frivolous need to constantly have my entire life packed up into a max 20kg suitcase, airport hopping my way through the world. What I’m gaining at is, once you get hooked on something, may it be a pleasure or a pain, you never ever get free from it.
Last year, I managed to squeeze in five trips abroad, totalling up to 26,172km, or 16,263miles (with a huge thanks to the people at Air Miles Calculator for letting me put numbers on one part of my addiction) and getting rid off 9 weeks off work. Which in itself is worrying, as it indicates I work far too much as I am able to tally up enough vacation days and flex time to be away from the office with full pay 9 weeks a year.
True, this year I’ve only managed one trip so far, but 2014 is still young. Besides, that particular trip earned me 17,158km (or 10,661miles), not to mention a raging jetlag that took more than two weeks to rid myself of.
But here I am again, airplane squeeky wheels barely touching ground yet, and I’m at it – checking travel sites, guide books, chatting people up about where to go next. With my finger hovering over the “book now” button, I have to ask myself – when is enough enough?
Simple reply – to someone that has been bitten by the wanderlust bug, it’s never enough. There’s always a huge part of the world we haven’t yet seen, experienced, visited, traveled to. And the good news are – the world is HUGE! There’s always something new to see, experience… the bad news? Basically the same. The world is huge. So it will never be enough traveling.
I blame mom for this (as for so many other things), because she had been bitten early in life and passed it on to me in the DNA. I was two weeks old the first time I was abroad. Two months old when I was on my first long distance trip. Before you get chills, imagining airplane travel with an infant, I can assure you I was the quiet kind. Perfectly content with sleeping or being read to. And I never got damaged by being exposed to various countries and cultures before I could even walk – in fact, going abroad twice a year since I was in diapers (and mom potty-trained me very early, as you can imagine changing diapers in the teeny tiny airplane stall isn’t an experience anybody strives to experience as often as possible) made me resiliant and open to new experiences. It led to my very diversified friend group, my love for foreign languages and… of course… the always insistent on attention wanderlust. My addiction.
I already have booked my April (easter) trip and am currently planning a week in June together with a friend. Shared insanity is always preferred. And I’m completely sure I’ll be off in May as well as September, not to forget the annual running-away-from-my-life Christmas-and-New-Years getaway. I’m thinking I’ll smash my fiver, my 26,000km, in 2014.
You know what? I hope I will!
Wanderlust is pleasurable addiction. May I never be cured!
Two weeks away and the whole world should have changed, but I’m home now and things still look the same… yes, I am quoting Dido. Yes it was intentional. No I wont retract it.
My Mayan vacation ended when it was supposed to – after two weeks in the amazing Mexican sun – but my Mayan adventure just begun. It’s hard to explain, I travel a lot (about five times a year, always abroad from my little nook in this world), and never have I been so moved by a trip before. Internally disrupted. I am NOT referring to any kind of Montezuma’s revenge (never get those, thank Lord). I’m referring to the strange, nagging feeling deep inside that I’m missing something here. Butterflies. Schmetterling, as A would say.
Five days home and six nosebleeds later, I realize I AM missing out. Not on a perpetual vacation – who’d want to be so free they had no reason to actually get up in the morning (more than to spend more money) – but on happiness.
I had a long conversation with A – a refreshing breath of clear air, frankly enough telling me off the bat what he felt and wanted (and what guy actually does that?!) – where he told me “If you don’t like there you are, just move. You’re not a tree!”. Well, maybe not in so many words, but the jest was there: if I wanted something else in my life than what I was currently having (being stuck with), I needed to implement the changes.
And even though I already knew that, the logical side of it, it didn’t dawn on me untill being banged over the head with the proverbial wreckingball by a guy I barely knew: if I’m so unhappy it shines through in a place where I am actually happy, then what the hell am I doing with my life?
I’ll tell you. My life has been pretty straight arrow. Aced high school (relentless overachiever, took two high school majors at once and studied 4 foreign languages). Coasted through the university, also there double major. Started working and made my way up to financial management and market development. Pantyhose, high heels, office politics – the whole shabang.
What I didn’t realize was, straightforward as it was, my life was working away from happiness. So I learned that. On an archery court, at a five star resort in a Mexican small town on the Yucatan. A job that paid enough for me to afford two weeks in a five star resort – where I could have my moments of epiphany – wasn’t making me happy.
I realized then and there, computer tan and a closet full of Manolo Blahniks wasn’t worth much in compare – to the Mexican sun and a white-and-burgundy uniform of the sports and entertainment team. Not sure if those guys just really excell at their job, or if they really love it as much as they claim, but they managed to sell it in to me like a bottle of water in the middle of the desert.
So, you thought this would be about how I lied by the pool and drank colorful drinks, or hiked through Coba, or did silly poses by the Chichen Itza? I’ll get to that. Right now, this is about a raging mad woman that had a tiny, but very real existential crisis and is now ready to give up her cosy, secure high-street life for a job as virtually anything travel-related, even if that’s a sports/entertainment team member – yes, you did read that correctly – because she’s stuck in a life two sizes too small for her…
Hey, stranger things have happened!