Not travelling or thinking about travel was more or less the norm in my life. I always wanted to but did not really have the opportunity to do so until about two summers ago. I went on a short academic exchange to Jerusalem and like several of my peers, completely fell in love with travel. I will make posts about my time there soon, and all the other places that I have been to since then, to accompany the photos, but for now, I will just say that it was an absolutely amazing experience. Meeting new people, exploring the streets, seeing ancient sites, tasting new foods… I had no idea what I was missing out on! Hence, returning to routine was difficult as naturally, all I could think about was the trip that I had just taken. It was as if I had seen the forms but now had to return to living in the cave—hello, Aristotelian reference from my second-year political theory class—and although I settled in eventually, sweet memories of the places I’ve been are always there. As someone else put it, “once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over gain in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
And as much as we would like to, most of us cannot be travelling all the time. Sooner or later, we become stationary somewhere because of say, the new school semester or financial reasons—as most of what you owned has been spent on globe-trotting and now it is time to earn again—or whatever the case may be. So, what do you do when you start feeling the restlessness or blues of not travelling? Since sighing every time you see or hear an airplane is unproductive, the following are a few general suggestions, in no particular order, based on what helps me and given that they may help someone else, why not share?
1. Live through other people. Usually, this is a bad idea but it is helpful in this context. What I mean to say is, find other travellers! For me, this can be my friends on Facebook or bloggers who are currently exploring a part of the world that I am interested in; and by that I mean any part of the world at all. Seeing their photos and reading about their experiences is fun and it makes those places more real, if you will. Not only can this be inspiring but it also becomes a form of research for future travels of my own. For example, I might find tips about affordable accommodations or sites to see that I had previously not heard about. My favourite blogger for a while has been Liz Carlson and you can find her at Young Adventuress. Similarly, I follow travel accounts like @RoughGuides and @lonelyplanet and they often tweet cool photos and articles.
2. Live through TV, film and books. This is similar to above except that it is a more visual experience. Since my wanderlust began, I have become a big fan of travel shows on television. Every now and then, I will go through my Guide and if the program seems interesting and it is set somewhere else in the world, I will record it. From Rick Steves’ Europe and Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens to various National Geographic episodes and other documentaries, there is always something on. Likewise, there are many travel movies or films and books. In the former category, my favourite is Roman Holiday (1953) which stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Most recently, I watched Into the Wild (2007) and re-watched Eat, Pray, Love (2010) because of Julia Roberts and well, Javier Bardem. In books, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is hands down, one of the best. If you have wanderlust, it will speak to you like no fiction ever has.
3. Write about your travels. Instead of focusing on where you have not been, focus on where you have been! Since you probably go through your travel photos on a regular basis anyway, why not share the stories behind them? As mentioned earlier, I am currently working on blog entries for the places that I have been and I genuinely enjoy doing this. It reminds me of all the adventures I have had and the result is instant gratitude. Of course, you can keep your writings to yourself and even choose other types of creative outlets such as songs, poems, art, scrap-booking and so forth. Whatever works for you. If writing is intimidating, remember this beautiful quote by Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.”
4. Find another hobby. You know how time goes faster when you are doing something you enjoy? Exactly. Take up knitting if you must but pursue another project. I find that volunteering in my community is a great outlet because I am able to help others and in doing so, I am reminded of all the blessings I do have.
5. Prepare for your next trip. Having another destination in mind, or the time period that will you be able to travel in next, is great as it provides you with a goal. If the latter is not clear, just do little things that will help you whenever you are able to make the opportunity to get away. Do background research on the regions you wish to visit, bookmark webpages and above all, add to your travel fund. Even if it is a dollar every week, that’s one dollar closer to Rio, Istanbul or Kyoto. There is also Pinterest with travel boards and pins galore where you can create collections of the places you want to see or the things you would like to do there.
6. Explore your own city. I know, I know. Depending on where you live, the success of this alternative will vary but keep in mind that travel is not limited to places across the ocean. You can explore other cities around you too that may be accessible via public transportation or car. Admittedly, this is the avenue that I have explored the least but I am mindful of it. I apply it by, for instance, choosing a new restaurant over a familiar one or a different shopping district than the one I am used to (window) shopping in. The purpose is to continue having new experiences wherever you are.
On a final note, it is important to recognize that the effectiveness of this list is restricted in that it will, and should, only help you for so long. Eventually, there is no other remedy for travel withdrawal than to get back on the road. Nevertheless, by following some of these strategies, the interim period should become more than just the “buffering” part of your life and can be spent in a happier fashion.
If you have any comments or tips that help you get through travel withdrawal, do share below! I would love to hear from you.