It can come quick and fast, causing you to fall hard. It’s easy to feed, but near impossible to quench. To be stricken with wanderlust is to desire what you don’t know. Culture. Language. Cuisine. A freshly booked e-ticket in one hand and the other releasing its grip on routine, the perpetual traveler knows this stance well. Moreover, she craves it.
However, there are many others who hesitate here; they grip assuredly to what is practical and wise. Wanderlust is something for the young, they think. It’s only a space-filler for the unattached or unemployed. Unless you can trek the footpaths of Nepal or snorkel the lagoons of the Seychelles — and do so often, while being paid — travel isn’t to be prioritized. It’s to be filed away and tended to another day, when time and money is plenty.
Though, is it really possible to segment people into two simple camps: the ones who travel and the ones who don’t? Are those who long to live by train schedules doing so at the peril of a mature, successful future? Or is there something universal about the call of wanderlust, so that those who say they’re immune should entertain even a small dose?
Below are some common misconceptions as to what wanderlust truly entails. A desire to live a carefree, spontaneous life isn’t inherently wrong, though neither is thinking twice before clicking ‘purchase’ on a whim. Weighing both sides of the bohemian spirit can free travel from being viewed as an all-or-nothing hobby and instead, something enlightening, enriching, and available to all.
Myth: If I travel, I’m selfish.
Though on the surface taking a trip may appear to serve a self-satisfying purpose, at the core travel is meant to transport someone outside of themselves, elevating perspective so that it’s multi-dimensional and open to new possibilities. Lifelong travelers are some of the most welcoming and appreciative souls that there are, and it’s not because they want to parade their journeys like trophies.
This humbling usually happens so that you learn to focus less on yourself, and more on who (or what) is around you.
Travel can challenge you to confront deep-seeded emotions, experience a way of life drastically different from your own, and conquer fears that you didn’t realize you needed to face. This humbling usually happens so that you learn to focus less on yourself, and more on who (or what) is around you. If you’re wrestling with feeling selfish for traveling, take your concern to heart: what motive do you find there? Do you want to travel solely so people think you’re cool and interesting, or do you desire to learn first-hand about the world and better relate to the diversity you encounter there?
Myth: If I travel, I won’t have money.
While plane tickets, hotels, admission fees and exchange rates can add up, the fact that traveling equates to spending shouldn’t be a deep anchor point for why someone doesn’t. Money can disappear anywhere if you aren’t wise about how you’re using it and, generally speaking, those who prioritize travel often need to be more mindful of where theirs is going. It can be easy to let the morning coffees and flash-sale purchases slip in, but having a bigger purchase like a trip planned can make discerning between needs and wants more clear.
Likewise, think of travel as an investment — in yourself and in your relationships. Can you tangibly touch a trip in the same way you can hold money? No, yet, what is money really meant for, hoarding or creating? To be responsible with finances is to first understand what we owe so that money doesn’t end up owning us. However, if you’re able to land in the green each month, consider putting a portion of that towards your dream getaway or even a short overnight. It may take a few months (or years, depending) but the reward of saving is to spend with an easy conscience. The best time to start saving — even if a small amount — is now.
Myth: I don’t have time to travel.
Travel can be just as much a state of mind as it is a state of place, meaning that if you think you don’t have the time, you likely won’t allow yourself to find it. It’s true that to develop a deep appreciation for a place can take spending more than 24 hours there, however, don’t underestimate the joy of teaser trips, especially if you live in a big city.
It may not look like anyone else’s experience, but you’re adventuring out nonetheless …
Postponing your routine — even for a day or two — and inserting yourself into the rhythm of another place will still grant the greater benefits of travel. You may not be able to see everything you want to, but the time that you do spend will feel richer and more full. Whether that means prioritizing your next free day for a road trip or elongating your holiday break to include a mini vacation, give yourself permission to get creative with your time. It may not look like anyone else’s experience, but you’re adventuring out nonetheless, making your own memories one day at a time.
Myth: I’ll travel when I’m older.
Someday is a great idea, but a poor companion. Who we become in the future won’t be a radical transformation of who we are today, just a deeper, more permanent version of the habits and character we choose to develop.
In certain seasons there may be very real reasons to stay put (health or family issues, for example) however, seasons change and with them we should allow for priorities to shift, as well. We can take small steps to build an awareness of travel at any age, and whether that culminates in retirement or is just a continuation of what we’ve already been doing is entirely up to us.
If you’re using someday as an excuse to nip wanderlust in the bud, trying slowly cultivating it through planting tiny seeds where you are. Reading travel diaries, watching Netflix documentaries, or even committing to getting uncomfortable once in a while (like driving an hour away for dinner) are all great places to begin.You don’t have to go big to develop a passion, you just have to believe in it being worth it to follow through.
How do you foster a love of travel in your life?
Images via Morgan Ashley Photography