On My Love-Hate Relationship with the Travel Lifestyle

So about this travel lifestyle…

There are times I think I’d like to do this forever. Like when I’m sitting on a plane, munching on my Corkers crisps and pretending to like that tomato juice I ordered on a whim. I guess it’s only classy bearable when you make it a Bloody Mary?? 

There’s something alluring about being a jet setter. Deciding on a Tuesday that you want to fly out Saturday. Booking a ticket to another country for a four day trip.

Who wouldn’t want this life??

Well, other times, I don’t want this life. Not forever anyway. I walk through cute neighborhoods with modest old houses and creaky front gates. Overgrown rose gardens and kids’ bikes in the corner. I take note of the close proximity to grocery stores and the butcher and the florist. We pop out into a giant green park at the end of the street and I look over and say to Tyler “this is where I want to raise our kids!”

We miss community. We miss having our own space that is actually our own, not borrowed rooms filled with other people’s memories. We miss meeting people and then digging deep and creating lasting relationships built on day after day after day of honest, transparent life. We miss inviting those people over for dinner, breaking bread that our own hands kneaded and shaped and baked. Ok… Tyler’s hands, I guess. But I miss picking out curtains and hanging art on the walls. Curating a space that is our own safe haven.

But traveling… it’s amazing. Our eyes are opened and our horizons expanded each time we step foot in a new city. We have opportunities to see and experience life in a new way all the time. We climb mountains in Alaska, we bike down little streets in Switzerland, we visit German street markets, and we learn the London tube system in and out. And now, totally unexpected and unplanned, we are navigating the foreign wonder of Malaysia. We go out at night to get dinner and it’s as if we feel this instinctive need to lean forward against the wall of heat and humidity that meets us outside the front door. We wander down chaotic streets, maneuvering around language barriers as we pick out which Asian cuisine we want, and then which unknown menu item we want to gamble on that evening. We gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a foreigner, look like a foreigner, be slighted like a foreigner. How could we not treasure this wild series of experiences that stretches us and allows us to connect with humanity in a new way?

Every place we go though, those connections tie us down a little bit. We crave permanence because we are human. In a feeble effort to deny that, to protect ourselves, we try to hold ourselves up, not wanting to truly land. Don’t let you feet touch, we think. Don’t let your heart settle here. Because the next month, it’s off again. Pulling up the roots of this-is-our-grocery-store and that’s-our-park-for-evening-walks. Pulling up even more sensitive roots of we-could-afford-this-neighborhood and what-if-our-kids-learned-to-bike-on-these-streets. We crave permanence and we dream of it in every place we visit. We learn about new cultures, and then we fall in love with aspects of those cultures. We slip into them, and at first they’re uncomfortable, like any new thing that you are determined to make work. And then, after awhile, it does work.

Travel still gives me a rush. I still love the feeling of fitting all my possessions in one bag. Booking a ticket still feels like embarking on an adventure that could hold only good things. I am still entertained every time I look through my passport, watching the pages fill up and betting with Tyler on whether we’ll run out of space by next year. Navigating new places still feels like a challenge that I would take any day, and I’m still proud to be able to say I’m living my dream of traveling the world.

Are there days I think the travel lifestyle is the best thing ever, and I wonder why everyone doesn’t do what we do? Sure. But there are also plenty of days when I yearn for the comfort of home. It wouldn’t even matter where, but to be in one place, have a spot that was truly our own, paint the exact shade of dark blue that I put up on every bedroom wall in every place we’ve lived… That is my deepest longing.

After this crazy ride of globetrotting and sight seeing, we’ll find a little old house of our own– with a garden and all– and we’ll nestle in to regular life, with all the zeal we put into traveling the world.


 

What is/would be the best thing for you about the travel lifestyle? What would hold you back from traveling full-time?

 

  • This is so beautifully written! I often feel the same about travel. There was a time in my early 20’s when I used to travel and teach swing dancing – a different place each week and a different couch almost every night. I’d spend the summers in Europe hopping countries. But I had the dance community around me to support me and make it worth it. To lend a bit of consistency and familiarity. I’d be hard-pressed to be a complete stranger somewhere each time. Though I suppose Hubby would come with me now. I’m happy to set down roots for now though. This is the first time in 10+ years that I haven’t moved at least every 6 months (if not 6 weeks) and I pretty much freak out every time Hubby suggests we could move somewhere else if I wanted. I’m not attached to Colorado per say, but I’m definitely attached to being settled here. (I miss all my things fitting in a single bag + backpack though! )

    • Stephanie, I love learning this about you! What a cool story you have… I’d be interested to hear more about your swing dancing adventures. And I can understand your attachment to your current home… When I met my husband after college, he was just hitting the point where he’d been in one place the longest time in his life. (He’d moved every four years growing up.) It seemed a little ironic that packing all our stuff to start full time travel would be harder on him than me– since I’d been the one who’d lived in one place almost my whole life– but I think it was because he had finally found a “home base” and he didn’t want to leave it..

  • Oh wow Linda, this is such a beautiful piece! I guess for my husband and I, our family is scattered across the US so we spend our “travel time” driving and/or flying back and forth to see parents and grandparents. Sometimes I feel a bit resentful that our family takes up all our travel time and money (because we only get so many vacation days at work…) but what would my life be like without my family? Very dull and lonely! So I’m content with it for now. But one day, things may change!

    • Oh I totally get that! Growing up, my family was all over the globe, so that’s how international travel became such a normal part of life. But on the flipside, I didn’t see much of the States til I was in college! But you’re right.. family is everything!!

  • This is a gorgeous post! As someone who yearns to travel more, I often don’t think of these difficulties. My husband and I are about to spend the next two years traveling for work and not having a home to go back to and I know that will be hard. Not having a community to rely on and being far away from everyone. Thank you for sharing. Subscribed to your blog so I can look forward to reading future posts!

    • Aw thanks Cassandra! And best of luck with your travel lifestyle! It can be a challenge but I think if you are willing to let it stretch and grow you, there is so much to learn about yourself. What kind of job is taking you guys on the road for two years?

  • I think ulimately a balance can be achieved. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There can be seasons of deep immersion and others where jetting off is the norm. What’s awesome about your year of travel is it’s allowing you to think about the level of community you want/need.

    I’d love to spend a summer in Europe someday…the French countryside perhaps?

    • You’re so right on… this is a season of figuring out what we want in a community. And for us, travel in this way was important and we knew we “needed” (there’s always another way I guess) to do it before kids, careers, etc. It kind of needed to be all or nothing for us. But I agree that even after we “settle” somewhere, I think international travel will always be a part of our lives 🙂
      Also… the French countryside sounds amazing. I think my dream summer would be Croatian coastline!

  • Ahh I totally feel you on this – trust me, I LOVE traveling and have loved that I’ve been fortunate to travel & live in foreign cities and feel at times, disappointed with the LACK of travel currently in our life. Sure, we travel throughout the Northeast, but it’s not the same rush of landing in a country where you don’t speak the language, doesn’t accept the US dollar, and you have no idea how to get to your hotel. But like all things, it’s nice to have stability and consistency. While often we see it as boring, stale or stagnant, the predictable can be the comfortable which is nice more often than not. I wish (and why wouldn’t this work?) we could travel for 2-3 weeks every 3-4 months to a new place. A new country. New city. New adventure. You have the stability of curating your own space, but the excitement of a new adventure to look forward to and create memories. For now, we try to land somewhere in between exploring our area and planning some fun trips (IRELAND!) to look forward to, but there is still more to be done! Enjoy this stage of life while you can and know once you do settle down you’re never done traveling!

    • Thanks Alicia!! I can imagine the feeling of being stuck between wanting to travel and liking being at home. I mean, that’s basically where we’re at, except on the opposite side of the coin. And that travel schedule with 2 weeks every few months?! Sounds amazing. That’s one huge benefit in my mind of developing a location independent business, or freelancing online… it gives you the freedom to at least move locations like that even if you can’t totally take off work! But in the meantime… you’re right. You guys still travel all over the NE and we have Ireland coming so soon!! 🙂

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