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Photo by Dave Hogg
In this series we look at musings, notes, ideas, and narratives from Matador Community Members’ blogs. Here, Robyn Crispe questions how travelers deal with everyday life when they’re not voyaging around the world.

I consider myself a traveler. A risk-taker. A bold and experienced adventurer.

Then I remember that it’s been a while since I’ve actually “traveled.” I feel the prickles of insecurity. Am I still a traveler? Could I still hike the Colorado Trail solo? Do I want to? Am I still the same person that organized her 6-month trip on the Appalachian Trail and pulled it off without a hitch and with tons of great experiences, stories and new friends? Am I more worried about health insurance, retirement accounts and the what-ifs now?

Photo by tseoeo

Or worse, have I spent the last several years pining away, living in the “glory” days of these past trips? What have I been doing since then?

Lots.

The act of traveling is an expression of the traveler’s being.

Not everyone travels, and many folks are not okay with the hassles and discomforts of what it takes to move about the earth outside of the work and home routine. Those that are inclined to travel have to. They need to see new things and grow in ways not accessible via the homebound route.

The in-between times — the seasons of commitments in one place – can mess with a traveler’s identity. They will say,”I know how to live out of a backpack in Kathmandu, but I am struggling with saying the right things in this graduate seminar.”

Or, “Hitching a ride to town from the trail feels normal, but riding in my family’s SUV feels like a crime.” The real wilderness is often the world of mortgages, vehicles and 9-5 jobs.

When we’re grounded for an extended time, we have the opportunity to take our traveling soul and apply it to other parts of our lives.

We take classes that nurture our interests, spend time with people that “get” us, continue to live simply, and research the next adventure. We can still feed the wanderlust. We are still “that” person.

After I completed my ’98 Appalachian Trail thru-hike, I felt like I had to go home, but the desire to travel was still present. I spent a year and a half working in Boulder, then took an opportunity to volunteer with the Forest Service in Alaska for a summer. I  headed east to hike the southern half of the Long Trail in Vermont, then returned home for a solo hike on the Colorado Trail.

Soon after that I moved to Ridgway, CO and applied to graduate school in librarianship. I wanted to focus on a career that would continue to evolve, challenge my technical skills and satiate my desire to always be learning.

It was the right choice for me. But it meant settling down for a while. As a consolation, I chose a school within a few hours’ drive of the Appalachian Trail. If I couldn’t be on the trail, I’d be near it.

View from the Appalachian Trail, by Nicholas T


Keep the wanderlust going.

During these post-Appalachian Trail years, I’ve kept the creative traveling interests simmering in various ways:  a month-long trek in Nepal, several winter hut trips in Colorado, a two week east coast train excursion, and several road trips. I’ve taken classes, simplified my life in ways most people would consider extreme (no car, no fridge…but I still live in a condo), and started a craft business. But instead of being grounded and lured to live  a “normal” life, these things have just temporarily distracted me from what I really want to do: travel.

I believe I’ve just been recharging my batteries for the next phase by being wise with my money, increasing my social media skills and clarifying my plans.

The in-between season has been fine, but it’s time to go to the edge again.

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About The Author

Robyn Crispe

Robyn Crispe is based in Boulder CO but is soon to return to her first love, the Appalachian Trail, in the spring of 2010. She's been car-free for 3 years, loves living simply and is on a quest to get rid of most of her possessions. You can follow her journey at her new blog, This Open Road.

  • http://blogs.bootsnall.com/aimless melissa

    Thank you for articulating what it’s like to be ‘in between’ adventures. Agreed, “It’s time to go to the edge again.” Great to know there are others out there who feel the same way!

  • http://www.kaleidoscopicwandering.com JoAnna

    We can’t all travel all the time, and though I wish I could take off and travel more often than I do, I think it’s an unrealistic expectation. Based on the blogs I read from long-time, RTW travelers, travel can become mundane too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with traveling when we can and do. That sense of anticipation of knowing we will go somewhere soon, I think, is part of the fun.

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

    You both hit on the idea of cycles of liviing, which I think is so natural and important. That’s part of my urgency to go now — I’ve been settled long enough (or too long) and my soul needs the road, or the trail as it is this time. I think being grounded for a long period of time does make the anticipation that more fun! What keeps me getting things done is remembering that I’ll soon be experiencing the steady rhythm of long-distance hiking and being in an environment I’ve been missing.

    • http://www.thefutureisred.typepad.com/ Leigh Shulman

      Cycles of living… yes.. that is exactly it.

      Sometimes we want to move. Other times we want to be still. Sometimes we want adventure, the unknown and to see many places in a short period of time. Then there are time we just want to cuddle down into bed and listen to the rain with a cat curled up at our feet.

      I think most of us need both. The important part is figuring out when we’re reading to move and when we need to stay in one place.

  • http://beatravelbee.com Joya

    Thank you so much for writing this! It has been two years since I came back from an 8 month trip abroad and I feel like I haven’t adjusted to life back home and that I’m still trying to live in my “glory days.” I am going to make it a point to go somewhere new every year with my work-vacation time but I still have this longing for another long stretch of travel and am just keeping my eyes and ears open for an opportunity. My blog helps me in the mean time.

    • http://www.thefutureisred.typepad.com/ Leigh Shulman

      Joya,

      I think you hit on something interesting. It’s so easy to look back on our time traveling and see it as the past. Glory days is such a perfect way to describe it, because sometimes I think it’s easy to feel that we’ll never find a way to travel or be that free, open or adventurous again.

      But for travelers (which in many ways is synonymous with Matadorian), we’ll always travel again.

      Good luck finding your next opporunity.

  • http://www.thefutureisred.typepad.com/ Leigh Shulman

    Robyn,

    I hope it’s ok for me to divulge a little more information about that for the people reading here.

    I first read this article a few months ago, but it took a while for it to go from words in my mailbox to publication. In that time, Robyn has started onto the next step of her journey. She alludes to that in her earlier comment when she says she’ll be hiking again. When she wrote the article, she was in a still cycle. Now, she is about to move again.

    That makes me happy to hear on so many levels. One, because I’m excited for you to travel again. But also, because it shows how the cycles work, and that perhaps the feeling of being uncomfortable with one place is a sign it’s time to move on.

    It’s wonderful to see that you have not ignored those signs, and we can all learn from that.

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

      Thanks Leigh for filling in the gap – It’s so exciting to me to see how things shifted from restlessness to actually doing this. There is such a process in our movements. Although I didn’t know until recently that I could actually do this trip, I had been setting the intention and preparing for “something” for a long time. It all felt very right. This speaks to what you mentioned about not ignoring the signs.

      Take the signs seriously – is a job situation changing that might provide a way out (if you want a way out)? Could you start to purge your excess possessions? Cancel subscriptions? Quit going out so much? There are so many ways to get ready for a change if you sense that coming. At any rate you’ll lighten your load and save money and will be in a better position to launch when the time is right. I really believe that when we take action with a specific intention things start to change.
      Someone commented on one of my other blog postings that I “was preparing for flight”. I loved the way she described this. It was a little spooky because at the time I was thinking there was no way I was going anywhere soon. But I was setting the intention. And now I’m gone in less than 3 weeks!

      Joya – I know what you mean – this is why I was so happy to discover Matador several months ago – here I can bond with tons of other people who get it. No one here is going to challenge my desire to go.

  • N. Chrystine Olson

    Man did you ever nail it Robyn. Been 4 years since I left for Southern Africa. Friends and family are wondering when I’m going to bail on “real life” and warm up the passport. Some don’t realize that for me those long extended trips to other continents are the real world for me.

    But putting roots down and calling a place home for the first time EVER is the edge. It’s allow me to care for my father after his heart surgery and get some great tails of his own world travels, when he was a young man in WWII and in his retirement years with my Mom. Sitting still watching the NCAA basketball tournament the past two days,now that I finally got him back home, we both still consider ourselves traveler’s. We’re just resting.

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

      I love the way you describe your resting time with your dad and that you’re able to share your travel tales with each other. I bet he has some great stories.
      Now that I’m planning my upcoming AT trip I feel like I’m in my element. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://www.gtrot.com Brittany

    Great post! I completely agree with cycle living. Sometimes its a matter of saving up money to take a big trip. What I struggle with is keeping enough flexibility to take the longer trips- 1-3 months. I think cutting back on material spending requires a less serious and lucrative career but how do you find a way to balance the “time on” and “time off” that a travel addiction requires?

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

    Hi Brittany,
    Thanks for the comment – I think saving money with a goal in mind is so important and helps with the motivation to do so – I’ve lived fairly frugally for several years and it’s been nice on my AT trip to not have to worry about every little penny. A backpacking trip is still a low-cost endeavor relative to other trips but it’s nice to have the option to stay in a hotel once in a awhile or treat myself to a restaurant meal.
    Good question about the balance of time on and time off – I don’t think about it in concrete terms – it just happens I guess. I take advantage of the opportunities as they come – sometimes that’s “on” and sometimes it’s “off”.

    A little more update – I’ll be coming off the trail in 4 days to take care of logistics for my trip to China. My blog has all the updates.

    • http://www.gtrot.com Brittany

      Thanks for the great response!
      @gtrot

  • http://www.Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Travel-Writers-Exchange.com

    Great post! Sometimes people use travel to escape from their lives. Make sure you travel for the right reasons and not because you’re not happy with your life. You’ll be miserable if you stop traveling.

  • http://www.QTripper.com Rupen Qtripper

    There will always be that post-trip depression, you can’t help it. The hardest part is trying to fight the stress of daily routines fill your life again.

    Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and there are a lot of destinations people don’t know about or have stigma’s towards. I met a lot of people on my last great trip through the Uruguayan Coast and Patagonia that referred to the “Lonely Planet” effect, where restaurants or hotels would begin to charge more or lose quality because they had this cash cow of a reference.

    I like to add my findings on http://www.qtripper.com because it stuff found by locals for travelers and the users can adjust ratings for when the “Lonely Planet” or whatever effect takes place

    Rupen

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