The Costs of a Wanderer

Kepler Track, New Zealand

That restless feeling you get, that wandering itch. You become tired of being stagnant, its time to get moving. The call to wander or as the Germans call it, Fernweh: a longing for far-off places.

Being in a single location for a long duration of time is hard for me. I become restless, somewhat stoical and start planning my next adventure. My theory (or excuse) is that our species have been nomadic and its totally normal. But after awhile you start noticing the effects. We all know the positive benefits of immersing yourself with the world but what are the costs?

  1. Yearning to be part of a community. Human beings have always thrived in a communal environment. I tend to experience this when I travel solo for quite some time.
  2. It become addictive. Wandering, traveling becomes an addiction. To see as much of the world is your drug, the best drug :). Not to mention the withdrawal!
  3. Strong desire for shared experiences Especially if your traveling solo, you eventually want to share these amazing memories you have with another person
  4. Yearn to have deep connections: After weeks of brief and memorable connections you start to miss having those deeper, lasting relationships
  5. Normalcy becomes boring: It becomes difficult to settle back into a “normal” life. You reminisce about those adventures & memories, making it difficult to adjust back to society
  6. The list never ends: The more you see, the longer the list becomes
  7. Becomes hard to relate to others You find it difficult to relate to those who haven’t traveled before or haven’t experienced what you have
  8. Being away from family & friends It is hard to be away from your own family and close friends but it becomes a sacrifice your willing to make. Distance & time creates difficulties
  9. Traveling takes a toll No matter what kind of traveling you do, its mentally & physically exhausting. Especially long trips!
  10. Dread losing your freedom It becomes difficult during the end of your travels realizing that returning home becomes the end of your “freedom.” Traveling is liberating and it is hard to adjust back to society and norms.

Here’s a story that I found on the internet that relates to all of this called the

Curse of the Traveller

“An old vagabond in his 60s told me about it over a beer in Central America, goes something like this: The more places you see, the more things you see that appeal to you, but no one place has them all. In fact, each place has a smaller and smaller percentage of the things you love, the more things you see. It drives you, even subconsciously, to keep looking, for a place not that’s perfect (we all know there’s no Shangri-La), but just for a place that’s “just right for you.” But the curse is that the odds of finding “just right” get smaller, not larger, the more you experience. So you keep looking even more, but it always gets worse the more you see. This is Part A of the Curse.

Part B is relationships. The more you travel, the more numerous and profoundly varied the relationships you will have. But the more people you meet, the more diffused your time is with any of them. Since all these people can’t travel with you, it becomes more and more difficult to cultivate long term relationships the more you travel. Yet you keep traveling, and keep meeting amazing people, so it feels fulfilling, but eventually, you miss them all, and many have all but forgotten who you are.

And then you make up for it by staying put somewhere long enough to develop roots and cultivate stronger relationships, but these people will never know what you know or see what you’ve seen, and you will always feel a tinge of loneliness, and you will want to tell your stories just a little bit more than they will want to hear them. The reason this is part of the Curse is that it gets worse the more you travel, yet travel seems to be a cure for a while.”

For all you wanderers, travelers, vagabonds & nomads. Can you relate? Let me know in the comments!