A lot of people use the word ‘wanderlust’. They have it tattooed on their body or written in front of a beautiful photo on their Facebook page, it’s even incorporated into the name of many many blogs, but what does it really mean?
It’s a hard question to answer. There are those that will talk about the factual meaning, that the word is German for ‘a strong desire to travel or wander’. Some will tell you it’s that feeling of claustrophobia after being in one place too long. Others use it to describe their friends or family who are constantly travelling.
To me it’s having travel at the top of your list. Not travel as in travelling to Ibiza to see the hottest club, or going to Bali and staying in a 4* resort near the beach, but it’s about eating where the locals eat and going a few blocks further from the city center than the tourists do. If you’re truly suffering from wanderlust you don’t eat at trendy restaurants or buy knick-knack souvenirs, you eat at local pubs that have daily specials and you spend your money on experiences that will stay with you for life.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I buy a shot glass at every place I visit, because that’s what I collect and I like to look at them and remember everything I did there, but long gone are the days where feel the need to buy my family souvenirs from every stop or eat at whatever restaurant happened to be close by rather than searching out a good deal. Now I am not afraid to stay in hostels, or do the group tours and say ‘hey, let’s play beer pong!’ with people from other countries that I’ve never met, or just to venture out on my own and walk through the streets with no destination in mind, just absorbing the sights of this new place.
Some people grow up and they want the 2.5 kids and the ‘white picket fence’ house and the 2 cars. There’s nothing wrong with those aspirations. I used to want that too! There was nothing I wanted more than to be a housewife, helping my kids with their homework and making sure dinner is ready for hubby. Doing the cooking and the cleaning would be nothing to me if it meant I was home to see my kids walk in from school. This was such a strong dream of mine that my Dad once joked I had ‘put feminism back 30 years’.
What happened? I got a job in travel. With every country I learned about another thing went onto my bucket list. Then my friends started travelling and I saw photos of their adventure. After that I discovered ‘travel blogs’ and read about people travelling the world for years at a time! The last thing to cement my real need for travel? Living in Canada for 6 months. This was, by far, one of the most eye-opening and life-changing things I had done in my 23 years and it made me realise that the world is huge and I wanted to see it all!
So, while others are saving for a mini-van, a house deposit, a new thermomix, I’m saving hard for a gap year to end all gap years. Yes I’ll be 35 before it happens but I don’t think I’ll fully feel settled anywhere in this world until I’ve ticked of A LOT off my bucket list. I want to see Machu Picchu, I want to see the Galapagos Islands with their giant turtles, I want to ride camels on Cable Beach and horses in Montana. There are pizzas to eat in Naples, tortillas to try in Mexico, and hummus to taste in the middle east.
Wanderlust – it means something different to all of us but at the end of the day anyone affected feels the same – there’s a big wide world out there and we want to experience it all!!