Looking back at my early travelling self is like looking fondly back at a child starting out in life, how innocent that version of myself was. So many dreams, oh the places I would go! I packed a bag and took off with an amount of money that my current self balks at, how did I think that was enough?!
Like many new travellers I made mistakes. Planning too much, planning too little, getting scammed and having all sorts of transport woes which upset me more then than they would now. I listened wide-eyed to the tales of other travellers I met along the way, wanting to be like them and keep seeing more and more. I read countless blogs and stories about places I knew of and wanted to see, and stumbled across new places constantly that quickly joined “the list”. It seemed the more I travelled the more I learned about the world and all the amazing places there are to explore.
And that’s the first problem.
To begin with it’s thrilling, finding out about all of these new places. Adding more and more to the list of things to do and see. It all seems possible and limitless. There’s so much time and I could work, save, travel and see what I pleased. Backpack through several places, move abroad and dream of round the world trips. I was like a kid in a candy store, I just wanted to take the world and shove it all in my pockets.
Until there came a time when I experienced a slight twinge of panic. There is no way I’ll ever reach the end of this ever-growing travel list. I thought in moving to the UK I would see everything I wanted to in Europe, but two years travelling around work and I wasn’t even close, I just found more and more to see. My travel style also changed and I started to prefer to see different, smaller places, plus still all the main cities too.
The problem is that we can’t see everything. In reality there are places we just won’t get to, even places on our immediate travel list. Writing that scares me, because I want to see so much and I’m a firm believer in making things happen, but I also know I need to come to terms with the idea that there is a finite time to see and do the things we want to. I could try and tick off all the countries in the world, but I wouldn’t be travelling in a way I enjoy and I never want travelling to become a chore, or I could try and narrow the list down, but every time I’ve tried it seems impossible.
In a way, coming to the realisation I will never see everything and accepting is probably a good thing. It means less pressure about where the next destination might be and how it’ll happen, because travel should be about enjoying the present and not worrying about the future and fitting it all in. It’s one thing to know this though, and another to accept it! Part of me still dreams about fitting the entire world in…
And that’s the second problem.
I like moving, I like exploring new places and I love living abroad, but it can also be tiring. Tiring to set myself up in a country, only to leave again. Tiring to make connections and fall in love with a place, only to have to leave. Of course I have friends I’ve kept in touch with, and multiple places that feel like home when I visit, but it’s not the same. I’ve become used to always missing someone, having spread myself too thin across the world to ever have everyone I love in one place.
The twinge of panic this time is the desire to stop somewhere. Never stop travelling, but maybe stop moving. I’ve moved country 5 times in 5 years, maybe it’s time to start looking for somewhere to stay for awhile, be a more permanent expat instead of a constantly new one. To put down some light roots at least, instead of living on the surface, always having a looming deadline to my life.
Our time is not finite and we have to deal with our competing desires. I want to travel, and I want a home. We often talk about travelling forever and leaving our jobs and lives behind to do so. But is it sustainable? I’m still waiting to see. I know travel can teach us to choose the adventure in normal life, we don’t always need to be constantly on the road. Some of my favourite travel bloggers who I started following back in those early innocent travel days that have been on the road for a long time are changing from being nomadic to finding more of a home base to travel from. Do we all get to this point? I don’t know, but I know that a time will come when I want to be able to call a place home without knowing the day it will cease to be.
The more you travel the harder it gets. Harder because you find there are more and more places to be seen and the reality is there just isn’t time to see them all. Harder because even if you could try and see them all you might reach the point where you want to stop skimming the surface of so many different lives and this might limit your ability to get to the end of that ever growing wanderlist.
The more you travel the harder it gets, but that doesn’t mean I would tell my younger self to never start on this life of travel. I feel more privileged than I can say to have been able to travel and live abroad like I have. And then, there are never any regrets to be had from trying.
Do you think travel gets harder, am I giving up too early on trying to see everything? If you’re a traveller, do you think you’ll ever settle? I want to know!
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