An old friend from my school days got in touch with me recently over Facebook. We were catching up and she mentioned the last time she saw me I was running for a train. I told her not much has changed as I’ve been travelling off and on ever since. Aaaand as usual it sent me into a soul-searchy spiral.
It threw into perspective the contrast of our lives. Deep right? This contrast has been bothering me since going back to the UK this summer.
The conclusion of this pondering has been whittled into 5 points of how I think travel has donked up my life. Not in a good way, not in a bad way, but just in a way.
And may it be a word of caution to anyone who is considering leaving their ‘home’ country and normal way of life …
- You might lose your identity and create a new one.
I would prefer (and relate more) to being a citizen of the world rather than acting patriotic. Even though that sounds kinda douchey. People kept referring to it as my ‘home’ and England is where I was born and raised but I don’t really consider it home. I guess it’s one of my homes. *shrugs*
My reason is I don’t feel at home in England. It’s always been slightly alien. That’s not to say I don’t love it or miss it. I do! It can be a great place! But so are many other places!
Then there’s friends and family.
- You become unrelatable.
Traveling makes you miss out on milestones and the lives of people who you care about. Eventually you won’t be able to relate to a lot of the things they do. You’ll get bored listening to conversations about local happenings, house renovations and people’s work /life balance or whatever. And in turn you’ll feel hurt that people don’t want to hear about your travel stories, and plans to lie on another beach for a couple of weeks being all irresponsible and stuff.
Again I’m not saying that I would want to judge others for their decisions in life. I don’t like it when people do it to me so why would I do it to others! Just because I don’t really understand the need to get married, buy a house, have a baby etc doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them! Equally it would be nice if people supported our need for travel, even if they don’t understand it.
But sometimes the ‘difference ocean’ is just to deep and inevitably relationships drift apart, even when you don’t want them too.
I mean if we ignore our calling for the sake of others, you’re only going to end up resenting that person or yourself, right?
It’d be cool if we could all go do our own things and respect each others decisions and STILL find a way to relate to each other!
We always seem to latch onto things that justify our choices and condemn others. Let’s not do that. People should do what makes them happy (within reason).
I’m still trying to navigate relating to people back “home” as travel does tend to change and shape you as person. Big life events in general tend to change people. The old me may have gone but the new me is still pretty awesome, at least I think so, it’s up to people back home to decide if I’m still relevant to them or not, or if they want to stay in touch.
- You can develop an allergy to stability.
Itchy Feet, travel bug, call it what you will but some people catch this deadly virus and never get over it. Other people recover, eventually and some people are immune to it. I get super itchy feet and bored in one place or situation. It’s like I’m allergic to stability but crave it. Like if you really liked nuts but were allergic to them. The grass is always greener on the other side they say. I would really love my own house/home with my own wardrobe, my own bed. Or just not to live out of a suitcase.But whenever I ‘settle down’ somewhere after a certain amount of time whether it’s 3, 6 or 12 months I feel the need to leave. If I don’t it’s a slippery slope into the blues. It gets worse and worse until well… during a 3 year stint in Sheffield, UK I ended up needed to get medical help for depression. Yeah…. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from the travel bug either way I’m good, as long as I do what’s best for me.
- You become prone to extreme highs and lows.
The highs are super Annapurna Himalayan high and the lows are like well just bottom of the canyon – locked out of your hostel at 2am in the rain – dump trucks. When I’m living in one place or ‘rooted’ a good day is going for a meal out after work or walking around the local area discovering new things. A bad day is missing the bus or getting a bad audit at work.
When you’re travelling a good day could be snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef or horse riding in the Himalayan Mountains. A bad day is a tyre bursting in the middle of the Outback, miles away from help or getting lost in a Malaysian jungle with no water, or worst of all getting extremely homesick.
It is a life of extremes. Even extreme situations that happen when you’re rooted seem to be heightened when you’re on the road.
For example, when I was settled at home I had to go for an operation. I knew where the hospital was, all the paperwork was sorted and I knew the protocol. Plus my friends and family were in the same time zones and a bus ride away.
Whilst traveling earlier this year I had to go for another operation. I felt so alone, scared and didn’t know what the heck was going on. It sucked.
Alternatively when I celebrated my clean test results in the UK I bought myself a pair of new shoes. When I got my clean test results (eventually) whilst travelling I celebrated by going surfing at Surfers Paradise.
- Planning seems futile.
In school I had a 10 year plan! I cannot recall what it was but I honestly don’t think it involved immigrating. My old friend, the one at the beginning of the story, told me she always thought I’d end up travelling. I was planning on going to University, getting a good job and buying a house and filling it with cats. Yes cats. (I have always know I never wanted children.)
In school we did fantasize about doing up trucks and buses or combining our pocket money to buy a fancy camper home together and driving across the United States. But that’s all it was. A fantasy. It doesn’t seem like one now.
Even now when I make plans, travel plans, they go awry.
“Oh let’s stay in Australia for the year.”
“Yeah but look how cheap these Bali flights are.”
I do wonder if I’ll ever stop and be happy in one place. My plan was to travel the world to find somewhere I’d be happy settling. I haven’t found that yet. Maybe our next stop New Zealand will be the place!
P.s Apologies for any spelling and grammar mistakes. I’m super pooped from untangling my hair for 3 hours.