Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

The Risk of Becoming Addicted to Travel

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 3 September 2012 | Views [8353] | Comments [15]

They say ignorance is bliss and I do truly believe that.

My eyes were opened to the world of independent travel and backpacking when I was nearly 25. Learning about hostels and cheap means to travel suddenly made the impossible seem possible. In all my dreams I never even had a speck of an idea that I could go to Australia, Russia, China, Southeast Asia, India, or anywhere else on my own or with the little money I had. The whole world literally opened before my eyes.

So I started to dip my feet in the rivers of traveling. I went about seeing more of my own country first. I discovered how beautiful and diverse America was with its grand national parks and unique cities and people. I then took a few trips to Europe. Some of the trips were with people I met traveling before. Others were on a tour. Sometimes I was all alone.

Traveling on your own at first is scary, I must confess. But once you get over the initial fear and just do it, it can be the most rewarding experience in your life. You find yourself doing things you never thought possible and it leaves you hungry for more.

Traveling can be a drug to some. We call it the “traveling bug” but it's really so much more. I'm afraid I am one that suffers from it. I suppose it's healthier than alcohol or cigarettes, but just as expensive and life altering all the same. It's not a completely negative drug. Traveling is far more educating than school or books, especially if you allow yourself to interact with the native people. If you are on your own you grow and become more independent.


When you do come home, that is the test to see if you are truly addicted. . For me, whenever I came back from a trip I would feel sad, and empty inside. I would try to hold onto the traveling feeling as long as possible by communicating with friends on facebook and going through my photos over and over again. As I felt my “high” of the trip slipping away I would find myself on the computer finding the next place to go. I needed that high so much that it led me to quit my job at 27 and become a full time traveler. I justified it by saying I needed to see the world and experience life outside everything I had known. Really it was about chasing the high and silencing the constant craving.


I backpacked on my own for 8 months. I went through Europe, Russia, China, Australia and New Zealand. The hole was filled, but after time I must confess it was getting to be a bit much. I was content to stay in New Zealand, get a job, find a boyfriend, and enjoy the most beautiful country I have ever laid eyes on. As a result I find myself craving the career, stability and money I used to have. On the other hand, the memories I now have are priceless and every morning I get to wake up in heaven.


The “travel bug” is nagging again. I look at the map and think of all the places I haven't been to. All the places I would like to see. I tell myself that life is short and I need to cram in as much as I can. I'm nearing 30 now. The biological clock is ticking. This should be the time when I ought to be settling down, comfortable in my job and starting a family. I tell myself, just one more trip and it will be enough. I know there will always be “one more trip”.


I really don't know if there is a cure to this addiction.


On the other hand, I'm also scared to rock the boat of my life again and disrupt the somewhat stability that I have established for myself here in New Zealand. I'm scared to risk what I have with my boyfriend (who is from England) and I will never find another country that we can live together in.


I say ignorance is bliss because before I dabbled in this world I was happy. I had everything that I thought I wanted. It was a simple life, and I was extremely naïve, but I was doing alright. Had I not gone on that first trip on my own I'd probably still be in New Jersey, teaching away, probably with a couple of kids.


I don't regret anything with my life. But I do often wonder what exactly the purpose is. Is it to be forever on the road? Or will I eventually find a happy medium? Perhaps there is still something great waiting for me out there and I need to be patient enough to find it.

Comments

1

Dude. Teaching abroad is the perfect blend of traveling and settling down. If you do want to continue teaching, it's the perfect recipe. Great students, good pay, supportive admin., and NO STATE TESTS. If you wind up having children, they will go to your (awesome) school for free and move with you and become what we call "third culture" kids - open-minded, well-educated, and well-traveled children. I can't overstate how satisfied I am to have a great teaching job with travel opportunities every break (and enough money to pay for them!) Let me know if you need more info. I can't recommend this life enough! :)

  Peg Sewall Sep 3, 2012 11:41 PM

2

Hey Lauren,

We really liked this post and wanted to share it with our Facebook community (http://www.facebook.com/worldnomads) today. Yours is a dilemma so many of our nomads face.

Happy travels!
Alicia
WorldNomads.com

  Alicia Sep 21, 2012 11:11 AM

3

I didnt know I had a travel bug until I went into full time missions. I love to travel. I love experiencing new cultures. I love seeing lives change for all eternity. I love taking in God's creation. I love to travel. When i stepped away from missions I was depressed bc I thought I would never be able to travel again but turns out I have flexible vacation time at my job..as long as I have the time I can take off. That has been a blessing bc now I can do missions on the side. I know the itch so well. I completely understand.

  Tyshan Sep 22, 2012 2:26 AM

4

Peg Sewall ! Thank You for your comment. I am 37 and experiencing similar feelings and heightened concerns about life-realities and practicalities to Lauren who wrote this post. Thank You Lauren for writing, I can identify with your feelings so much. And being a few years further down the line leaves me feeling the pressures yet more.

Do any of you out there worry about the next step ahead.. The time in which we won't have savings, having spent our life living for the moments in other places? I am serial escapist with this tendency only growing the more I follow them. Insatiable hunger to be elsewhere, so see elsewhere, to taste other places.. I worry tremendously. While having conquered my debts (to some degree, as in credit cards are close to paid, student loan lingers on) I am without any savings. In case it helps: I have an MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) and am starting a teaching German as foreign language program (distance learning with the Goethe Institute). I am a self employed artist, film maker, photographer. My partner and I are also aware that if we have children, then it needs to happen in the next 2 years.. (argh! To be a woman sometimes is annoying.)

Thank you for your well written post. B.

  birgit_75 Oct 23, 2012 9:11 AM

5

Thank you. Now I know I am not the only one felling this way.

  natalie imani Oct 28, 2012 12:46 AM

6

Thank you for sharing your experience. I was diagnosed with the travel bug over 10 years ago and still I have not found a cure!! Do I have permission to share your story on my website? I look forward to your response!!

  divineblu Nov 13, 2012 2:37 PM

7

I'm glad that you liked it, yes of course you can share it, cheers.

  lauren_watson Nov 13, 2012 5:24 PM

8

Thanks Lauren,

I thought that I alone suffered from this in curable disease. To my relief so many people out there are in a similar boat. I started traveling at 27. I return home for bouts of 'grounding' but the problem with travel is the more I see, the more I want to see. It's not like the appetite gets satisfied. It doesn't. The hunger only increases. I struggle with depression upon returning home. Usually after 3 months back home I start feeling frustrated and my feet start itching terribly. The biggest challenge back home is that I've grown apart from my friends and family. Their insular mindset is so stagnant and boring to me. Back home wherever I look, I see people living a drudgerous, boring and monotonous lives. Such is the perception after seeing the world anew. The possibilities and scope that I hold in my vision are very different to those back home. Sometimes I crave that Base, that sense of feeling settled. But I know that once I have it, I want to shoot off again. I don't what it is about the ordinary life that I detest so much. I just feel dead when life follows the same old program. Traveling on the other hand, is when I truly feel ALIVE.

  John Nov 16, 2012 5:31 PM

9

I absolutely understand you :) My addiction started as innocent exchange program for one semester in Finland...it was 3 years ago...since then I've already participated other 2 exchange programs and planning to travel all around the world in every case :)

  nimo Nov 20, 2012 4:53 AM

10

Great post!

  lisaf Nov 21, 2012 9:00 PM

11

Wow, that post was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

I have the travelling bug big time, I can feel it deep inside my stomach, going crazy when I even think about, getting a steady job, getting a house, settling with my girlfriend, waking up everyday to go and do the same job, with the same people, and going home to he same person.

I honestly wish I never knew what I know, or experienced what I have, ignorance is bliss, and I look at people who are happy, but actually live a terrible life, but they don't care.

I feel like I am pretty screwed, and no matter what choices I make now, I will have regrets, its just..... what will I regret more!!!

Its effed up!! To say the least

  Adam Richmond Nov 22, 2012 10:40 AM

12

Wow. I've never heard anyone explain it so simply. Thank you for speaking the truth and helping me understand myself.

  Diana Nov 27, 2012 11:28 AM

13

I can really relate to this. I have been traveling for ten years and I am going to be 30 this summer.. I feel like that age is starting to make me a bit worried.. .or contemplate at least.. I always thought I would do this for a few years and then eventually go back home to live. Lately I have been feeling like maybe living abroad is just my lifestyle. I can't imagine going back to the US to live now, after having had such an interesting and different daily life for the past several years. Anyway, I don't think any of us should regret any of these decisions. It is a lifestyle choice and most people I know are always saying 'I wish I could do that!' Dilemma or not- I think it's a good one and we are lucky.

  janet Apr 15, 2013 3:30 PM

14

how about some moderation in your life and travel when you feel the need to and settle down a bit when you feel guilty. it is no perfect world. do you want to have kids? no? then why care about your biological clock? because you might regret it later? if you think so, then have kids by all means.

yes, it is a boring life to have family and same job, everyone living such life are boring. but it is life, guess what, you were born by boring parents. they probably regret having you - because they won't ever see their grandchildren. and now you're living the dream. but you won't procreate and spread your genetic seeds. you will be sad and alone when you grow old because you won't have any friends.

so what do you really want? have friends that travel with you? if everyone would just travel who would drive busses, planes or boats? that life would be impossible for everyone - we all need diversity in our lives. someone needs to have stupid and boring job. someone needs to travel.

it is a question of security vs. fun. of course security is boring - but it is secure. fun is no substitute for security as well as security is not substitute for fun. you choose to have fun - that's fine. but you won't have security.

we all need moderation. if we go into extremes too much we lose sight of other things. look at thing from all the angles before you dive into it.

if travel is your thing, that's fine but don't regret later having no kids or friends. or don't regret having kids but not traveling. it is stupid to even think of that. do something and then do other thing. you won't be 30 forever so have that in mind too. life gets tougher when you are older, unfortunately. have some security in your life too. but also have fun. find the right balance (which is not the same for everybody) and you won't feel guilt you missed out on something or not having some security. even if you do choose security who is there to claim you will actually have it when you grow old. if you choose fun who is there to ensure you won't have your organs removed or got stabbed over 2 dollars in india.

there is nothing certain in life so stop f******* worrying about it and find the right balance what is good for you.

  pp May 10, 2013 5:18 AM

15

Great said Lauren, you wrote it perfectly. I wonder at 27 years old you quit your job but you able to went to 3 different continents, where you got that money? I believe that was not cheap, right?

  Mia Adiyani Dec 21, 2013 6:38 PM

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