Your dreams on the road can offer insight into yourself and your journey. Tim Patterson shares his own experiences.

I press my tongue against a tooth in the back of my mouth. It wiggles.

“That’s weird,” I think, feeling a little anxious. After all, I’m 25 years old. My baby teeth are all gone and I’m way too young to start thinking about dentures.

My heart is pounding, but my teeth are firmly in place. It was only a dream.

I reach into my mouth, grab the loose molar between two fingers and give it a slight, tentative tug.

Oh shit – it’s barely attached to my gum. Even worse, the tooth next to it is also loose. What on earth is going wrong with me?!

Suddenly, all of my teeth start falling out! The coppery taste of blood covers my tongue! In a panic I…wake up.

My heart is pounding, but my teeth are firmly in place. It was only a dream.

The Dream Of Travel

Travel can sometimes feel like a dream. When you’re jet-lagged and wandering the misty streets of a strange city at dawn, it can be hard to tell whether you’re actually awake. A good hard pinch is often the only way to know for sure.

A great deal has been written about the dreamlike state of travel. But what about real dreams? Do travelers dream differently when they’re on the road?

I think the answer is yes. Dreams are a way for our minds to process information, and the onslaught of new sensations we encounter while traveling means that our dreams become correspondingly more vivid and intense.

Here are five archetypal dreams that travelers may experience:

1. Loss Of Control

The dream I describe above about one’s teeth falling out is a classic “loss of control” dream. Without teeth we are as helpless as infants, powerless and dependent upon others.

Traveling in a foreign country can also make us feel helpless. Without speaking the language or understanding the culture, we are unable to communicate. The horrifying tooth dream is a reflection of this feeling of powerlessness.

Another “loss of control” dream that I’ve experienced while traveling is driving a car and suddenly realizing that the pedals are out of reach. (Anyone who has survived a moto-taxi ride in Phnom Penh can sympathize).

2. Home Sweet Home

You wake up in your own bed, go downstairs, make coffee and read the local paper at the kitchen table. Your parents are already up, eating their breakfast, and your dog comes over for a pat on the head.

Everything is blissful and happy…until you wake up and find yourself back in the ratty hostel in Uzbekistan. Crap. Home is a long, long way away.

Dreaming idealized visions of home is not uncommon when traveling, especially if you’re already feeling a bit homesick. This sort of dream is a symptom of culture shock, which afflicts all travelers from time to time.

Although waking up in a strange place after dreaming vividly of home can be a miserable feeling, it’s important to realize that homesickness is a natural part of travel.

Plus, although you’ll no doubt have countless mornings at home to look forward to, you probably won’t ever come back to Uzbekistan, so get outside and enjoy the day!

3. Speaking In Tongues

If you speak in a foreign language while dreaming, it’s a sure sign that you’re beginning to feel at home in your new environment and culture.

If you speak in a foreign language while dreaming, it’s a sure sign that you’re beginning to feel at home in your new environment and culture.

Dreams are perhaps the most intimate, personal and unguarded moments of our day to day lives, and if a foreign language enters into your dreams it means that a new place has penetrated to the depths of your sub-conscious.

This is good news for ex-pats and longterm travelers, because getting in tune with the local culture and speaking the local language is key to getting over culture shock and experiencing a genuine sense of place.

For travelers with limited time, however, dreaming in a foreign language might be a sign that it’s time to move on to the next destination!

4. I’m Flying!

You jump into the air, come back to earth and jump again – the ground is as springy as a trampoline. One more jump and suddenly you feel a resistance under your arms. Pushing off, you rise into the air. You’re flying, and the only thing you can think is why didn’t I learn how to do this earlier!

The flying dream is one of the most intensely pleasurable dreams a traveler can hope to experience. It signifies total freedom, self confidence and the opening of new horizons.

These are exactly the sensations that travelers hit the road to find, so if you’re lucky enough to enjoy a flying dream it’s a clear sign that your travels are sending you on the right path.

5. The Sex Dream

I’ll resist the temptation to go into descriptive detail about sex dreams. Suffice to say that travelers are not immune to the occasional embrace with tangled sheets and an unfortunate pillow.

For those unlucky enough to travel without their romantic partner by their side, travel can mean suffering through a significant dry-spell. In this case, a sex dream is a clear sign that it’s time to get home, before dreams grow into a temptation to stray in reality.

For single travelers, a sex dream is also a sign – to drop the pillow and get out and meet people already! Although some cultures may frown on pre-marital flings, a hook-up with a fellow traveler is always a potential option.

What dreams have you experienced while traveling? Leave a description below and BNT’s resident fortune teller and psycho-analyst Tim Patterson will give you an interpretation.

BNT contributing editor Tim Patterson travels with a sleeping bag and pup tent strapped to the back of his folding bicycle. His articles and travel guides have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Get Lost Magazine, Tales Of Asia and Traverse Magazine. Check out his Matador profile.
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