So, picture this…
You’re sitting at work; it’s the middle of the day. You’ve had a fairly rushed morning since it’s a Tuesday. You’ve found yourself with a 2-minute gap, with a bit of peace and quiet to yourself. So you lean back in your chair; you put your feet up and you close your eyes, and in your head your mind comes to light, not with spreadsheets or company conference calls, but with where you wish you could be instead. You could be at home in the bath, perhaps on a nice park bench on a sunny day or even sitting on the couch watching the latest Netflix binge (‘Stranger Things’ has us all hooked, right?). For many who have travelled, their minds will be thinking about only one thing… and this is what I affectionately call the Wanderlust Effect.
For me, the ‘Wanderlust Effect’ occurs when I’m sitting at work, dreaming of walking along a warm beach with sand between my toes. When I get home from work and I’m sitting in my car, I turn the engine off and for 2 minutes I’m imagining myself sitting in a sunny courtyard in Budapest hearing the locals chatter away in Hungarian whilst I sip on a fresh pint of Dreher (The beer of Gods!) just taking in the atmosphere . Hell, even when taking a shower, I’ll close my eyes and think I’m bathing in a thermal spa!
Anybody who has travelled will tell you this will happen. They talk about all the great experiences and the great memories, of fantastic monuments or sculptures they’ve seen or of concerts and festivals they experienced whilst away, but what they don’t tell you is how much travelling can change you and after returning home how regular mundane life isn’t enough to keep you happy anymore.
So this week I’ve just gotten back from Sweden (visiting some lovely friends in the ever beautiful Gothenburg!) and I’ve already been hit by the ‘Wanderlust effect’. It’s that feeling that nobody warned me about when I started travelling.
Your family and friends always tell you, “go travel; see the world; live your life whilst you’re young” (at least that was the case with me) and when you do finally go and do it, it is amazing. You meet amazing people in spectacular places; you create memories and often friends for life. When you’re away you even talk about the inevitable return home, which we all dread but know is coming. We talk about the jobs we have to go back to, the family we need to visit, the next promotion, the new job we are looking at, and we know that sooner or later we will have to leave and say that hard goodbye.
But what nobody tells you about is that feeling you get once you are home. For the first few weeks everything feels fresh again (if you’ve been away for a long time you even get loads of attention from your friends and family!) People want to hear about your trip, find out all the exciting details. Friends talk about how they are jealous or envious of your lifestyle and your travels and often express wishes of doing it for themselves, but then it goes back to the norm. The focus is back on your friend’s next job promotion, a family member’s engagement, your uncle’s wedding that’s coming up and your life falls back into the same old routine.
Everyone else sees this as normal, but for yourself there’s something inside of you that has changed. On the outside you may seem your normal self but you know on the inside that you’ve changed! The real problem with the ‘Wanderlust Effect’ is that nobody warns you about that emptiness you will feel when returning home; that blank space inside you that the mundane 9-5 doesn’t fill, that hunger you once had to perform well in your job and to save up for a mortgage or whatever dream you had no longer has the same appeal that it once did. These are the reasons why we, who have travelled, end up discontent with regular life and are always looking forward to the next time we have away. Who knows if we will ever return the next time we are away?
This is where my head is currently. The more places I see and the more friends I make, the more I long for the freedom to take the leap to say, no to the rat race and yes to eternal travel happiness.