January 27, 2017

What to do when the Travel Bug Bites.


We’re about to step on board a plane and head back home.

We find our seats, passports still in hand, and gaze wistfully out the window. The incredible trip that we spent weeks planning and months longer dreaming about has finally come to an end. In a matter of hours, our feet will be touching down on home turf, that feeling of familiarity slowly sinking in.

But deep down, in our heart of hearts, we have an inkling that the open road is where we really belong.

Whether we’ve been gone for two weeks, two months or two years, the second our feet touch home soil, we’re hit with a confusing emotional cocktail of excitement, confusion and instant nostalgia—because we know we’re coming back a different person.

It’s a shifted perception of the world, an appreciation for how small it really is, how interconnected we all really are. The people we’ve met, both locals and those who shared our adventure, have changed something in us. Call it an awakening through our souls, but it touches us in such a powerful way.

But that time passes quickly.

In the first few weeks of our return, our travels are the topic of conversation and a breath of fresh air. We see our friends, our family, the old room we left behind, and it dawns on us that while we’ve been away having this enlightening experience on the other side of the world, life for everyone else has remained the same—well, everything except for the new relationships, engagements, new home purchases and job promotions—you know, the standard.

Our days are no longer filled with spontaneity. No more midnight swims, cocktail hour at 11 a.m. or getting lost just for the hell of it. We’re back to routine, and that sense of freedom and adventure seems lost.

We feel confused, even angry. Our minds begin to wander, asking if this is where we’re supposed to be, in this old familiar world. Old territory.

Is this really right for me?

We know deep down that this trip has opened up our mind and heightened our sense of awareness and appreciation. The stamps on our passports act as a reminder of all the countries we’ve visited, the borders we crossed, and the stories we’ll tell time and time again. We’ve got a serious case of the itchy feet.

And the fact of the matter is, our souls are still elsewhere.

Bits and pieces of them are scattered around the world. Our souls are jigsaw puzzles, each piece lost to the beautiful shorelines, snow-capped mountains or skyscraper-lined streets we’ve visited. Our souls are dispersed among our most treasured moments from our travels. We feel incomplete.

Conversations become slightly less meaningful as people struggle to relate to our experience of driving through the Canadian Rockies and seeing a glacier for the first time. They don’t understand the true meaning of the picture, standing tall atop Machu Picchu, with arms spread wide, without a care in the world.

So what do we do?

Do we sit there feeling sorry for ourselves as we scroll through pictures of our adventures, pining for times gone by? No, let’s not do that.

What we’re experiencing together are the dreaded and real post-travel blues. During our adventures, we saw too much, experienced too much. We were opened up to new cultures and new ways of living. And there’s no coming back from that.

Our minds have opened. Our vision is refreshed, our passion for the world and all its inhabitants re-ignited—if they were even discovered before.

We are entirely new people. And that is the biggest, and coolest gift travel can give us.

By this point in the cycle, we’ve been truly bitten by the travel bug. It’s seeped into our mind, and everything from this point on becomes a new possibility for our next big plan. Each conversation becomes a new idea; a new country to dream of, a new adventure to wish for.

We are addicted to this high, and our drug of choice is travel. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving to a new city, meeting new friends or best of all, planning a new trip, we need to use this positive energy to propel ourselves forward to where we want to be.

This is the cycle of travel, and it never fades. It is a sequence of reciprocal cause and effect. While we’re dreaming of a past adventure, our conscious mind is mentally planning another trip that (hopefully) will come to fruition one day.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you—it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~ Anthony Bourdain



Author: Natalie Siagian

Image: Author’s own

Editor: Callie Rushton

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Natalie Siagian