Previous Next

Photo: Lucas_B

Reannon Muth experiences an intervention for her travel addiction.

“Your lifestyle is sad and empty.”

“You’re missing out on having close friends and real relationships.”

I felt like I’d just sat down to an intervention. Only instead of sitting in my living room, surrounded by my family and close friends, I was sitting in a hammock at a beach-side hotel in Nicaragua, surrounded by a 29-year-old American acupuncturist and a former UN worker
from Sweden.

And instead of the intervention’s focus being on an alcohol or drug addiction, my fellow hotel guests had come to talk to me about an addiction a little less well-known; one that involved late-nights spent perusing Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Travel forums and an obsession with frequent flier miles.

“I can see it on your face,” the Scandinavian continued, looking at me intently. “You’re unhappy here. You spend all your time walking on the beach by yourself and you don’t talk to anyone.”

My brain twitched. How could she be so presumptuous? She barely knew me. Sure, I’d spent the last several days folded into my hammock, nose buried in my stack of travel guide books, but it’d been by choice. It was my vacation. I could spend it in quiet reflection if I wanted.

“It’s just that I’m tired of getting to know people and then never seeing them again,” I said, fighting to keep my voice neutral.

“Exactly,” she said, glancing at the acupuncturist for support. “I think you’ve traveled too much,” she said carefully, hesitating and then not looking at me. “It’s become an unhealthy escape.”

Running to Where?

Photo: Zeigen_was

That sentiment was something I’d heard before. “Don’t you think you’re running away from your problems?” was a concern that everyone from my mother to my therapist to a random blind date had expressed over the years.

And although I’d frequently shrugged off their concerns with a simple “I just like to travel”, I could understand how my desire to stay on the road must have looked.

In the last seven years I’d moved 20 times and lived in five countries, in Disney World, and on various cruise ships that sailed through the Caribbean, Canada, and Mexico.

I had more frequent flier miles than I did money in my bank account. Friends, what few I still had, were scattered around the globe like the postcards I wrote but never sent.

This was the first time, though, that someone had labeled what I considered just a love affair with travel a legitimate addiction. Part of me wanted to snap, “I am not addicted.”

But another part – the one that stopped me – wondered if she was right. The chronic restlessness, the rush of anxiety I felt at the mere mention of the words “car insurance” or “year-long lease”, the fact that I hadn’t had a real relationship – romantic or otherwise – in half a decade, all pointed to the possibility that I might have a problem.

The First Step

“Okay, so maybe I’m addicted to travel,” I said, sitting up in the hammock. “What’s so bad about that?” To me, travel broadens the mind – it provides valuable perspective, and makes people more creative, independent and empathetic.

Sure, it was a sacrifice to trade face-time with the family for Facebook chats and rushed Skype calls from internet cafes, but it wasn’t like we were talking about me laying cracked-out on the floor.

“If all you do is travel,” the Swedish woman countered, “then it stops being a healthy escape from reality and starts being all you have. How can you appreciate travel or enjoy it if you don’t take a break every once and a while?”

“How can you appreciate travel or enjoy it if you don’t take a break every once and a while?”

What she didn’t know was that I had taken a break from it. Or I’d tried to anyway. “I’m done,”’ I’d sworn to my family each time I returned from another long, travel binge abroad. “I’m ready to stay in one spot for a while.”

And for a while I would, throwing myself into my new job and buying potted plants and goldfish in an attempt to embrace the stability. But at some point, usually around the three month mark, the cravings would begin again.

Just One More Time

I’d try to squelch them with weekend road trips or long walks, but these were only temporary fixes. The trapped feeling would begin with a slight tap in the recesses of my brain, one that would eventually crawl its way around to the front of my consciousness, creeping downward through my veins and eventually filling my entire system. I felt powerless.

“Just this one last time,” I’d promise myself as the plane touched down in Tokyo or New Delhi. But as soon as I’d step out of the airport, I’d always know this wasn’t it. The smells and sounds would envelop me, like a hug from an old friend, all the while still feeling the rush of excitement from making an intimate new connection.

Not unlike the first cigarette of the day after a long sleep, my brain would fire up at the first inhale of my new environment and all my tension and anxiety would be replaced with elation and the optimistic, giddy feeling that anything was possible.

Until my new environment inevitably grew too comfortable, familiar and routine. Then the whole process would start all over again.

Releasing the Hook

Later that evening, I sat on the beach, alone except for the hundreds of hermit crabs that patrolled the shoreline.

I watched them wander in seemingly aimless zigzags, lugging all of their worldly possessions on their backs and I thought about all the addictions I’d overcome in the past.

Smoking, drinking, internet, television. I’d clearly proven that I had a bad habit of turning what can just be pleasurable activities into unhealthy obsessions. Was it that much of a stretch to believe that I’d turned travel into one too? And what, if anything, could I do about it?

It wasn’t like I could turn to Travelholics Anonymous or check myself into a Travel Addict rehabilitation center. I imagined that if such a rehab existed, it’d probably be filled with former flight attendants and ex-tour guides.

I imagined that if such a travel rehab existed, it’d probably be filled with former flight attendants and ex-tour guides.

Patients would attend seminars instructing them on the ins and outs of stable, sedentary lives; the topics ranging from “Tips for Purchasing Your First Pieces of Furniture” and “Dating the Non-Traveler.” But even if such a place existed, was the solution to my chronic wanderlust really abstinence? No one could expect me to cut travel from life entirely.

I’d been hopelessly hooked on it since Elementary school. There had to be some sort of happy medium between my nomadic existence and a boring life of mortgages and gym memberships. But what that is, I have no idea.

Where to Next?

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hostel in Leon, Nicaragua, where just a few moments ago, my pointer finger was poised over the “purchase plane ticket” button on the computer screen. A part of me knows that I need to go home. I need to trade in the backpack for a mailbox and friend people somewhere other than Facebook.

If for no other reason than the fact that I’m tired of being alone. But another part of me wants nothing more than hop on the next bus to Panama.

Have you ever felt uncontrollably addicted to travel, and how did you handle it? Share your thoughts below.

Consciousness

 

About The Author

Reannon Muth

Reannon Muth is a part-time writer and full-time travel addict. Over the last decade, she's backpacked through Asia and Central America and lived in five countries, in Disney World and on a cruise ship. Some of her talents include being able to fall asleep anywhere and eat almost anything. She currently lives in Las Vegas.You can read about all of her adventures (abroad and at home) on her blog, Taken by the Wind.

More By This Author

view all →
  • http://creativeartjournal.blogspot.com/ Emily

    I am sure you know Tolkien quote “all who wander are not lost.” I totally understand the urge to explore the world, the freedom to lay on a hammock for 5 days and just be.
    I totally understand the need to be alone also. . . . I just spent 7 weeks wandering around France, UK and New Jersey. (Yes, New Jersey.) I slept in many different beds, stayed with friends and family, and lived out of a suitcase. It was awesome. But now I am home and glad to be back in the routine. I also am a travel junkie, but I take it in bits and pieces. So maybe you just need a dose of “home” to make the travel feel right again.
    Addiction is a strong word for following something you love – for me, I am addicted to making art, to being with people I love, to being healthy. I am glad for having these addictions. Maybe your addiction is really just you finding who you really are, and your wandering nature expressing itself.
    All who wander are NOT lost.

  • http://rojakboy.wordpress.com pang

    dude your post just resonates just what i’m thinking right now. im a fresh grad and i just finished my trip in few countries and am now suffering from eternal travelust.

    it’s amazing how nobody has warned us of these potential side effects and looking at how big the world is, we should never be able to finish traveling it the entire lifetime.

    I read your other article ‘are risk takers a dying breed?’ and i don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. we’re risk takers yet we struggle with these many issues with our lives. is it because we’re the minority and the majority of the people just stay rooted in one place and be contented with the stability in their lives that they rarely question the status quo and hence remain as the majority in their own situation? what if it’s the other way round – travelers as the majority and people who stay rooted being the minority? what will the world turn out to be?

    i dont know but i think it will be a continuing struggle as we grapple with trying to find the perfect balance as time goes by. but the thing i guess we have to remind ourselves is that age is gonna be the limiting factor and there will be one very day we’d have to come down to earth because our bodies will not be able to carry us few steps forward and we’d have to depend on someone else to assist us with it – and that’s crunchtime.

    cheers

  • lee

    Though not exactly about the addiction to travel, you should try and find the movie 1984 “The Razor’s Edge”. It has some similar ideas, along with many other deep and complex ones. All in all, it is an excellent movie, one of Bill Murray’s “serious” ones, and he does a phenomenal job.

  • http://www.thebangpop.com Natalie

    These are my thoughts. I feel like you are taking the thoughts wrapped around my brain, that are twirling and swirling and trapping them. Typing them out before me. Great article. I have such a hard time settling down. I have so many friends like this as well. Always traveling. Always on the run. BUT the run is so exhilarating. Maybe the most exhilarating feeling that could be felt. I hate gym memberships, leases terrify me and commitment is like a four letter word. Plane rides, adventure, culture, new languages and far off beaches engulf my thoughts at all times. I have had many intervention speeches, but usually from people whose idea of traveling is Vegas for the weekend or perhaps maybe San Francisco. Again, great article.

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      @ Natalie – Those things scare me too! I remember reading once though that the things that scare you most in life are things that you’re meant to accomplish. I’m not scared of travel or living abroad and I’ve done it so much that it’s really no longer even challenging. But staying in one spot? Commitment? Growing roots somewhere? ::Shudder:: That is seriously my worst nightmare…

  • http://careerbreak.posterous.com Kathy

    I love travel but I’ve spent the last 30 years not travelling enough! Now I’m trying to catch up. Take if from me – settling down is overated. Travel while you can, travel for your life! Unless you are actually running away from something but it doesn’t sound as if you are.

  • http://www.neverendingvoyage.com Erin

    I would also describe myself as a travel addict, and after a year-long RTW trip wasn’t enough my partner & I sold everything to travel ‘forever’. We have no plans to settle down and don’t see that as a problem. We are lucky that we have each other and don’t get lonely, but there are plenty of solo travellers living this life and they aren’t running from anything: except a mundane life.

    Maybe you could get involved in volunteering projects in the places you visit. Kirsty from http://www.nerdynomad.com/ volunteers a lot and says it’s a great way to make real friends (not just passing travel friends).

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      “We have no plans to settle down and don’t see it as a problem.” Spoken like a true travel addict! …Just kidding.

      I don’t think travel addiction is necessarily a bad thing for everyone. But I think it can be a problem if it starts getting in the way of being able to develop meaningful and lasting relationships. Because isn’t that what life is supposed to be about?

      But obviously you and some of the other people who’ve commented here have been able to strike a healthy balance and that’s awesome. I’m jealous.

  • http://onceatraveler.com Turner

    I think you’re right, Reannon. This intervention for me took the form of my mother and brother looking at me with pitying eyes, as if I wasn’t doing anything with my life. I didn’t think much of it at the time, because I hate having to justify my travels to anyone, but now… I’m not so sure. From relationships, to the steady job, to just seeing familiar things every day, I think I might opt for some stability once I finish my stint in South Korea. Like you, I’ve tried before, but never make it more than a few months. I wonder if it’s too late to change for good.

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      @ Turner. Ugh. I’ve gotten the pity look from family too. It’s the worst! We should start a support group…Ha.

      I seriously hope that it’s not too late…but I’m thinking that you’re probably right. : ( Do you think it’s possible that we’ll grow out of it eventually?

      • http://onceatraveler.com Turner

        That’s one of my lingering fears, that by the time we do grow out of it, we’re too old to have anything we want with stability. I’m not talking 70s or 80s here, but 40s… maybe. Too old to start again, anyway. Now that I think about it, time sucks.

        I’ll start following your blog.

  • http://www.theinnocentabroad.com Melissa

    Have you read NomadicMatt’s post about traveling too much? Out of respect for the forum I won’t post a url here but you should read it. Everyone gets tired, and maybe you need a rest. Being rested up will be the best thing to help you love the nomadic life again, and see it as a gift instead of burdon.

    • http://onceatraveler.com Turner

      I think she describes it better than Matt.

  • http://www.greenygrey.co.uk Marc Latham

    Nice thoughtful and well written article. I think Erin makes a good suggestion, and you could just work more within your travelling, to make more friends and learn more about the places you visit.

    As Kathy wrote, one day you might not be able to do it, so do it as much as you can while you do want to.

    You may find somewhere on the road you don’t want to leave, or you might go home one time and really not want to leave. Until either of those happen, just keep living the way you want to…

  • http://www.photoblog.com/trevorthorpe/ Trevor Thorpe

    Thank you for this article Reannon.
    It really resonates with me. I am disappointed that there was no answer for us confused and conflicted wanderers at the end of the article but it was still very enlightening and comforting to know that I am not alone:)

    The hardest part of long-term travel is developing relationships and then leaving. It was heart breaking for me to leave my Hanai in Hawaii. The only comfort I get from leaving places and people is the thought that I will return. Another hard part about traveling for a long time is the urge to have stability and a routine and a purpose, but getting sick of all that so quickly once attained.

    I think that following our hearts is the only way to find happiness, but we also have to find the right balance of happiness and sacrifice. I think my solution is career travel photographer so that I can have a purpose and quench my insatiable travel thirst. I think a home base is very important as well.

    What do you think that balance would be for you?

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      I didn’t provide any answers at the end because I don’t have any.

      But I think that you’re completely right about having a purpose and creating a home-base. Some of my old housemates in Guatemala seemed to have that. They owned their own house in Belgium and would sublet it for three to four months out of the year so that they could travel or volunteer abroad. Of course it helped that they were freelance artists so that they didn’t have to quit their jobs every time they wanted to go anywhere, but I think they had the right idea. I’d like to do something similar one day.

      Balance is definitely key.

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      Saying goodbye over and over again is the hardest part, I think. I used to deal with it by convincing myself that I’d see those people again someday and I always made sure to exchange e-mail addresses or phone numbers. But I rarely do that anymore. I try to just enjoy the time I have with that person and leave it at that, but even that is hard…

  • Tobin

    Every way of life you might choose will have it’s down-sides, staying in one place at home is just as full of problems. My friends complain of boredom and frustration, whereas I complain of loneliness and disconnection (despite constantly meeting new backpackers along the way, it’s not the same).

    So, despite being in Guatemala looking at beautiful volcanoes, I’m still feeling slightly empty and wondering where to go next. I don’t know if there’s an ideal lifestyle out there anywhere, but it doesn’t mean I can’t keep looking does it?

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca ayngelina

    What a timely post. I’ve only been traveling 4 months but I’m definitely feeling a sense of being lost. I’m thinking about grounding myself somewhere in South America, even if just a few weeks so that I don’t feel like I’m just observing places and moving on.

  • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

    I’m surprised that there are so many of you that feel the same way! I thought I was the only one…It’s really nice to know that I’m not the only one. : )

  • http://www.travelyourassoff.com Rich

    I have been traveling for one year and eight months. Perhaps, I need an intervention. Just about everything in the post applies to me. I can’t deny it. I am searching without knowing what I am searching for. I guess I keep hoping something (as in a purpose) will come to me even though I know that is foolish. I am certain of one thing: As much as I get down out on the road i would be even more depressed stuck in some 9 to 5 cubicle nightmare. I like to think of my vagabonding as the lesser of two evils. At least with travel I am constantly learning and exposing myself to new ideas and ways of thinking. Rationalization? Sure is. Want to save me? Click on my blog a couple million times so I can snare some advertising dollars and buy a bungalow on the beach in Nicaragua. Money is certainly not a panacea for my recurring existential crisis but it sure would stave off reality for a bit longer. What’s my biggest fear? Becoming ‘Creepy Old Grizzled Hobo’ Guy with dreadlocks and tattoos of the word love in 57 languages. I see myself wearing some type of wizard robe as well. I need guidance. Is the Oracle at Delphi still operating?

    Anyone interested in meeting me in Buenos Aires for dancing lessons? it takes two to Tango. Maybe we could see a shrink together.

    My name is Rich and I am traveling my ass off (www.travelyourassoff.com).

  • Simon

    wow and here i thought i was alone being crazy . . ive been travelling restlessly since i was 17 and luckily in most of my past jobs i got to travel and live in hotels most of the time but ive been stuck in Geneva for 3 years the longest ive ever lived anywhere so definitely time to pack up my bag and get on the road again

  • Prue

    I know this feeling only too well!! I too suffer from travel addiction. Somehow life lacks meaning without travel. I have however spent the past 5 yrs trying something new… a break from travel, a proper grown up life. Althouth travel is never far from my mind, and the best thing is that I now travel A LOT with my work, so its almost like the best of both worlds. It is however, proper grown up travel now… which of course lacks that living on the edge adventure… but I am enjoying. I have also sought comfort in knowing that at any time I do have the choice to make a change and travel to anywhere I want at the drop of a hat or press of a button. My suggestion would be, if you have the urge to carry on… then just carry on. Follow your heart and don’t let society pressure you into stopping the one thing that makes you feel alive!!! Love every minute of it, life is short. ;) and rest assured you are not alone!!!

    • S

      If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear what kind of work you do. You just gave me so much hope – thank you in advance!

  • http://savideotourist.wordpress.com Andreas

    Awesome article! You definitely capture the essence of being on the road nicely. I could not relate with this any more, especially right now. I’ve been traveling basically since elementary school as well and am currently living in Lima, Peru. I’ve actually committed to a year here for a job and am already feeling the travel itch grow increasingly stronger as I meet travelers passing through with stories of places that seem so distant right now. I’m already planning my next around the world voyage with my cursor hovering over a 1-way ticket to Europe.

    I think some people are made for life on the road and love it so much that they find a way to embrace it. The mundane, that daily routine, sickens me to even think about. Some of us are made to explore the world, uncover every hole, connect cultures, and tell the stories to those who can’t/won’t. Who needs a gym membership and potted plants when you can ride in tuk-tuks and surf exotic beaches! The key, as has been mentioned, is balance. Finding a way to find the stability in the unstable (easier said than done! ha).

    A cool thing my friends and I do (who are now scattered around the globe and the US) is we try to get together once a month for skype conference calls where we all crack open beers and exchange stories of what is going on with us lately. Great way to bring the sense of home, abroad.

    Buen Viaje!

  • http://jasminewanders.com Jasmine Wanders

    Excellent post. I think this is a problem, or rather an apprehension or question that some of us long-term travelers face, and we can’t really discuss it with anyone. However, I have to constantly remind myself that I value different things in life than other people and than what my society tells me is right and normal. I don’t value having things, I feel restricted in stability and monotony, and I would rather hide than have to suffer through the mundane conversations that result from a “regular” and stagnant life.

    I meet people from all walks of life who ask me questions like What are you running from? What are you looking for? Some have been more confrontational than others. I normally smile to myself and try to understand that their perspective and their mindset is completely different from mine, and other lifestyles unlike mine confound me too.

    The people who confronted you sound like different things are important to them. For instance, most people my age (25) are settling down, getting married, buying houses, and starting careers. To me, this sounds like a nightmare. To them, maybe my life seems WAY out there. However, neither is right nor wrong. Only the individual knows what is best for themselves.

    I know what is right for me (for now, at least) – a life on the road.

  • http://www.flipnomad.com flip

    what a nice post… it hit me as well and it made me think… am i addicted too? maybe…but we write our own life story… we only have one shot in this thing called life and for me travelling gave this life journey a purpose and a better direction…

  • http://kirahagen.com Kira

    I deal with issues like this too, but I tried moving back to the States and it just didn’t work. I teach English and stay in one place for months or years at a time, make local friends and such, though, as does my husband, so I’m not alone, but…

    Long term, I want at least a cabin. A little place of my own that I can keep going back to. Somewhere that I’m NOT on the road.

  • http://www.travelpod.com/members/travelbug15 Danielle

    One of the many things I love about travel is that it is only then that I can truly relate to those around me. Only then do I feel like I actually belong. Reading this article and these posts…it’s so good to read that others DO understand me. The irony here is that we can’t maintain these relationships with one another because of our addiction, because we are all scattered everywhere.

    I come back home from being away and I feel like I have to dumb myself down or perhaps it would be better to say that I have to pretend to be interested in my friends mundane lives that seem so meaningless to me. “OMG you got the new Iphone, how awesome!” And you can’t talk about your travels because they can’t relate and think you’re bragging.

    I too have started having tequilla nights over skype, I love skype :) It’s not so hard for me to say goodbye because I know that if we really want to see one another again, we will. I have a friend visiting me next week that I met 5 yrs ago on a trip to Australia. We’ve met up since and once he gets here, it will be the 4th reunion and the 4th continent that we’ve been to together. I think that’s pretty cool.

    People say that travel is an escape from reality but the problem is that travel IS my reality. It’s when I feel alive, when I feel life, when I learn about what the world is really about, it’s when I learn what I’m really about. Is that unhealthy? Perhaps if you have a partner that does this with you then he/she is your source of stability.
    Why should we go down the path of life that has been beaten to death? We know what that life holds. I want to try a different path. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t but to me it’s a much better option than doing what everyone else is doing just because everyone else is doing it.

    Travel is the most difficult addiction. It depletes all of your funds, ruins relationships and consumes your thoughts. Yet, knowing this, you make these choices with a totally sound and sane mind.

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      I find it hard to relate to people when I go back home too. It’s tough to muster up excitement over your friend’s new iPhone app when you’ve just gotten back from white water kayaking in Costa Rica or whatever. My biggest fear is turning into one of them. It’s an easy world to get sucked into.

      But it seems like a lot of travellers talk about sedentary life in terms of cubicle monkeys and rush hour traffic jams and obsessions with American Idol. I don’t know that is has to be either one extreme or the other. I hope that it’s possible to stay in one place for a while and not become boring or superficial.

  • Dianne

    Nice post. I once met a man while living in Greece that was walking the world. He was from San Diego and had been walking for 5 years – a 62 year old man. He said he would travel for another 5. Was on his way to Israel for the holidays. He travels on $500.00 per month, social security. His kids and everyone thinks he is crazy. But what an interesting character. Healthy looking, happpy He felt that we get sold a bag of goods that we have to have a home, mortgage, car, etc to be happy. That is simply not true. He lives in the moment and thoroughly enjoys life and what it has to offer. I think you can get lonely with a big family, city, loads of friends and you can get lonely on the road. That is just a part of life. Enjoy the moment and do what your heart tells you. Follow it for however long you can and when its time to do something different, do it. You will know. Have a great life.

  • http://www.vagobond.com Vago

    Sedentary life is lame. We weren’t made to sit in one place and have a post office box and a day job. The reason you don’t have the life you want is because other people are too lame, you’d think the Swede would have seen that.

    Great post. Don’t go ‘back’ home. Find a new one. All those people you’ve left behind deserved it.

    All the best,

    ~Vago

  • Tracy

    Reannon,
    You took the exact words right out of my mouth. My family thinks it’s a cop out, but for me the thought of a year lease, a year membership anything with boundries makes me jittery. I am trying now. I have a new job, living with my aunt…the whole lease thing…and all I can think about is how long it will take me to save up enought money to jump on a plane, train or whatever and go again.

    Great article…glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.
    Tracy

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      Aw Tracy. I wish you the best of luck staying at your Aunts, if that’s what you think is best. I hope for my sake too that you’re able to stick it out. Not one of the commenters here has offered up a success story so I’m hoping that I’m not fooling myself into thinking that I can leave these vagabond shoes behind. Good luck.

  • http://annemerritt.blogspot.com Anne

    Reannon, I can definitely relate to this honest article, and it’s so nice to hear that others can as well.

  • http://www.movetospain.wordpress.com Carla

    Well, I was in your position just two weeks ago. Instead of using the money I had to go back home, I booked a ticket to go to Israel, and after that I am moving to Poland to settle there for a few months.

    I do feel like I made the right choice though.

  • http://eccentrictravels.blogspot.com Epiphanie Bloom

    Dear Reannon,

    If you don’t want to stay in one place very long, why force it?
    Maybe this ‘addiction’ is actually the best thing that has happened to you.
    You can still have friendships and relationships as long as a flexible approach towards them is cultivated by both parties.
    Maybe you’ll meet another traveler somewhere when you least expect it… or perhaps you can bond with the people you’ve met here, who share your insatiable need to discover new places.

    If you haven’t guessed already, I’m another travel enthusiast… I travel as often as I can, and it isn’t as often as I’d like. I am lonely myself, but I can rarely become friends with someone who has been to less than three continents. I love people with diverse influences, who have lived in more than one place, and who are endlessly curious about the world. We should create a support network for ourselves, methinks. ^^

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      I’m at the point where I don’t really want to meet anyone if I know that it’s going to be temporary. And since EVERYTHING is temporary when you’re always moving around, then that makes it pretty near impossible to have a relationship.

      • http://eccentrictravels.blogspot.com Epiphanie Bloom

        Imagine if you met a fellow American, and you could move in together either in your town or theirs… or someone from another nationality you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. They could immigrate to the US, or you could stay in the nation of their citizenship… who knows, maybe some gorgeous European? :o) I think it’s worth staying open to the possibility of meeting ppl for that reason – you never know who you’ll meet.

        About the ‘you’ll get bored of the world’ thing, how is it possible to be bored? Say you visit every town in every country in the world (which would be difficult enough to do) – I bet every single one of them have changed over the last 5-20 years, so it’s time to rediscover them again! In China alone, new skyscrapers are springing up in the big cities at lightning speed – you could never catch up with all the exciting developments of China, let alone the world. Not to mention all the wonderful events that take place each year – festivals, concerts, plays, speeches, etc.

        Good luck :o)

  • Collin

    I have been traveling for 24 years. I am perpetually jet lagged and aging faster because of it. Everyone important to me has learned to live without me, they adapt. I think you are on to something that needs some study, a label, and possibly treatment. The only progress I have made is I bought a house that I spend about 2 months a year in. The stimulation you get from dropping into other cultures runs out. After 15 years every place you go provides about as much excitement as being at home. That’s when you hit a wall and can no longer rationalize your behavior. You can’t glorify it by calling yourself a brave risk taker, an adventurer, etc. There is no moniker that makes you feel better. Face it head on now, find balance, get help before you wake up in your 40s, bored with the entire world, and just fly to airport hotels around the world and sleep for a few days and check back in for another flight, aimlessly for months. A colleague of mine says he simply likes to fly. he can’t be contacted on the plane and loves the isolation and total down time. I am thinking that there are many of us that travel for less obvious reasons. Constant widespread business travel is a relatively new phenomena. The impacts to humans should be studied more.

    • http://www.takenbythewind.com Reannon

      “Face it head on now, find balance, get help before you wake up in your 40s, bored with the entire world.”

      Wow, bored with the entire world? That’s my biggest fear. That’s so sad…I don’t ever want to become that jaded. Maybe you’re right and I should stop now before it’s too late.

  • Steven

    Reannon,

    A big thanks for writing this, I have never spoke to anyone else who feels like this. All my other friends I have travelled with in the past seem to have settled back into mundane life and my friends and family from home just dont get it when I tell them I need to travel again. I am always wondering why I cant do the same but I figure this is my only life and im not accepting a boring life like that. I have also experienced the looks from the parents when telling them im going travelling again and they try talk me out of it. My last round the world trip I went with a new girlfriend and we are now getting married next year which is a HUGE step for me on the commitment side of things as I too struggle to even sign a 6 month lease or a phone contract lol. So I guess this is why im finding it even harder now cause I dont have the chance to just get up and take off (which I would of a long time ago if i was single). One of my friends has just left to travel and I am now thinking of cancelling my facebook page so I dont see his updates and photos haha. Anyway Reannon and to all of you guys who still can I say if its what makes you happy KEEP ON TRAVELLING. All the best :)

  • Scott

    “One Love
    One blood
    One Life
    You got to do what you should” – U2

    “What is Life but a series of inspired follies?” – G.B. Shaw

    “The grass is green on both sides of the fence.” – my brother Dan, he holding his one-year-old fourth child to me, having just returned from a four month overland trip from Singapore to Pakistan

    “It’s all good.” – Anonymously Everyone

    “The Answer” for me lies in some confluence of the above. I’ve been doing this travel-thing for half my life (I’m 55) and would not trade any of my travel experiences for anything I can or have either imagined or seen “accomplished” by others. Those road experiences are simply the most indelible experiences of my life.

    I believe that the roots of why each of us individually travels or doesn’t is exactly that – individual, and personal. Years ago I gave up listening to others, stopped holding my life and my own individual search for meaning up against others lives, beliefs and their own search.

    My own travels have resulted in writing two books, numerous articles and thousands of photos, and a film. I do not travel to disengage, but rather to engage in a way that suits and fits me. Should I wake up tomorrow and decide that travel is not for me, then I also believe that it is not now, or ever, too late to “start again” – whatever that means . . . for me, it’s all one big trip.

    I don’t travel to “run away from” something but to “run to” something.

  • http://dreamyhalfcockedgreenhorn.blogspot.com/ Andreas

    I love your lifestyle, its mine too.

  • Daniel

    I read this in the NYT recently, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html

    I’m currently experiencing my own bout of anxiety about my fear of commitment, and articles like these came at the right time. Its comforting to know that I’m not alone, and it fits into a wider context.

  • http://thisopenroad.wordpress.com/ Robyn

    I read this post earlier today and couldn’t quite figure out what bothered me about it. I was just trying to go to sleep in my new city in China where I’ve been for 10 days going on 10 months. After several years of being tied down I shook it all up last April, hiking the AT now teaching in China. I’ll ride this wave as long as I can.

    Then it all just came to me in a flash – I don’t think what you’re describing is an addiction – at least not in the destructive sense. You – and others who also like to travel consistently – just keep returning to your love – a healthy love. When we act on what we’re supposed to be doing – creating art, teaching, writing or traveling – we’re living out our true nature and authenticity. When we squelch that, then we’re killing our unique spirit. If you’re doing something you love then you’re putting out an amazingly beautiful energy that the world needs. I believe we live in cycles and sometimes our spirits want to nest – for a few months or years, then they may want to be in the world again. How is this at all wrong, and what right do those strangers sharing the same beach have to tell you what you’re doing is wrong? There is no standard quota on how much is “enough” traveling. You will know when it’s time to quit. You’ll make that decision out of the wisdom of your own heart not from the standard someone else sets. There’s a mantra on the trail – hike your own hike. The well-intentioned beach-mates could use that quote.
    I hope you clicked the “purchase” button, Reannon. Your traveler’s heart is still wanting to be out there.

  • Samantha

    go to Panama!

  • kat

    Great article, ditto to what everyone else has said, you’ve articulated what many of us “travel addicts” often feel. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how fortunate the extremely small population of people on earth are who may roam freely. And as such, I have decided to dedicate my future travels to working towards expanding this population..enabling and empowering those who were not so lucky to be born into a nation whose borders they may cross.

  • http://www.mikesroadtrip.com Mike Shubic

    The grass is always greener, huh? Earlier this year I sold everything and have been traveling for five months now…I’ve been loving life, however there are a lot of things I miss. Life is about chapters…this just happens to be the current one for me.

    Enjoy the journey,
    Mike

  • http://www.pommietravels.com Victoria

    This is something that’s been on my mind for a while…in the last country I lived people said they could tell I wasn’t that happy, I knew I wasn’t either. I was always distant, distracted, on edge.The problem is when do you stop? I want to have a relationship and friends and focus on building something…a career, ambition… The problem is I’m addicted to travel, seeing new things, meeting new people and having fun. The travel bug can definitely be a curse as well as a blessing. I’m back home now and in the goldfish buying, job finding stage…but the ‘panic’ stage comes in when I know i’ll be booking a ticket…

  • Jane

    hey guys and girls,

    isnt it funny how we, the vagabonds, considers ourselves the ood minority and thus we think that we hsould ”cure” ourselves from the travelling and wandering disease, that we should become ”normal”! The majority, the settlers have defined the status normal for the entire universe and there is a constant pressure for the ”outcasts” to conform to that lifestyle. I don’t have morgage or car lease, i have frequent flyer points and that is okay. Not every person is the same, if everyone would be like us, the world would be chaotic, but since we are the minority we still feel the pressure of adapting to the majority. The societis pattern – school-university-work-husband/wife-kids-grandchildren etc etc is not for everyone, and we should not be ashamed nor trying to change that.
    I agree that travelling can be addictive, and when it becomes addiction is like exaggerating with alcohol or chocholate. Travelling makes you search into your sole, get new experineces, take yoy to places you have never been and meet people you have never met before, but while doing that you should not lose touch with your friends and family. Ideally, you should be able to ejnoy the mundane as well as the wander, accept and appreciate yourself as you are, stop looking for excuses..life is too short for giving up what you love! remember that my co-vagabonds :)

    may internal peace be with you :)

  • Jess

    i’m probably a year and something late here – but i wanted to drop in a few lines.  i too lived a vagabond lifestyle – and too got weary of all the hellos and goodbyes.  i once said this, ‘parting is travel’s darkest peril.’ 

    having given in to a somewhat more domestic lifestyle, i’ve settled down for the past 5 months (working my way towards six – what an achievement – and still adjusting).  i’ve found yet another beautiful joy – travel through others.

    immerse yourself in a place you feel right at home in and satisfy that insatiable thirst for adventure through the connections you create with others – the stories that you become privy to, the times you arrive at such comfort with another person that you are able to laugh at the stupidest thing, and embrace the diversity of perspective they instill within you merely by coming from different backgrounds.

    travel does not necessarily have to be in reference to a geographical landscape.  any true vagabond would be in agreement.

    hugs,
    jess

  • Richard

    The ‘Buddha’ left his home, family, wife and child and had to suffer physically and mentally for many years because of his desire to find that which will enlighten him, all the time travelling. Maybe it was his intention to become enlightened that initially propelled him into action or maybe it was a subtler knowing (restlessness) that we can never become part of anything, person or place. Maybe what looks like running away is running towards the truth and with luck we find what the ‘Buddha’ found, but if we remain ‘distracted’ by relationships, visits to the mall, buying goldfish, writing birthday cards, painting the fence etc. we will never know…..

  • Elizabeth Angel Lopez-Hayward

    something to think about all my fellow world travellers….

Frugality may be the result, but learning to travel well comes from being pragmatic.
That plunge into the unfamiliar can inspire instinctual, even animal emotions.
These are the Big Questions I am pondering during my year in the world.
We speak of taking trips as we speak of seizing something from the world.
I never saw him again, but I couldn’t get the experience out of my mind.
There are always a million reasons not to do something.
The idea that I will have the everyday life for every day of my life is terrifying to me.
After three months, I still wake up and gape at all of this space that is just for me.
My favorite travel memory is the one I'm making right now.
And in the end, could you have chosen any differently?
Do something you'd normally do at home.