So listen, I know this is a travel blog and I spend 99.9% of my time attempting to entertain you by making light of the myriad of misadventures that befall me over the course of my travels, but today is a different kind of post. In fact, today I'm making a complete 180*.
If you're thinking about taking a long trip, or a short trip, or a weekend trip or a day trip or a quit-your-job-and-travel-the-world-trip (who even does that???), please let me give you some advice: just don't. Unpack your bag, don't board the flight or get in the car, unpin all those Pinterest pages on where to go and what to eat, and crawl back into your bed to watch Netflix and look at Instagram travel pages while incessantly muttering "I gotta visit that place someday". Don't do this to yourself, people.
At this point, you may be a little confused seeing as how if you've ever met me, you know that half of my conversations revolve around the places I've been and, more often, the places I want to go. But I messed up, ya'll. I messed up big time. Let me explain.
Travel will ruin your life.
Don't laugh, I'm serious.
If you (reader) have tattoos, do you have just one? Or did the half of you that wanted another one win out against the logical side of that said you don't need to spend the money? Have you (you again, reader) ever in your entire life even one time just eaten ONE chip? ONE pistachio? If the answer is yes, you're a literal psychopath - please stop reading my post, you're making me uncomfortable. If you're a normal human, the answer is no. Travel is the same way, boys and girls. Except if you ask me, it's worse.
When you travel, especially somewhere you've never been before, the whole game changes. Nothing incites a greater sense of childlike wonder than being completely and utterly ignorant of the world around you. You can't read the signs or understand the systems and cultural norms or cross the street without almost dying or communicate on even the most rudimentary level. You can't walk into a grocery store with any more confidence than you had walking into the middle school cafeteria on the first day of classes. You don't know where to go or what to do or what the rules are or if you're about to do irreparable damage to your self esteem by way of accidental cross-cultural embarrassment. You know nothing. Do you know how addicting that feeling is? And moreover, the feeling you get when you actually start to figure it out? When you start to understand the infrastructure and can get from Point A to Point B without asking seven friendly locals and a stray dog for directions, and the menu items start looking familiar, and you know the words for "thank you" and "beer" and you really start to feel like you could belong there, even just for a little while?
Right at that moment, it's game over. You lose. You're, for lack of a better phrase, totally screwed. You've fallen deeply and immutably in love with a culture and way of life entirely foreign to your own and you have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA when you'll be able to come back. And the only person you can blame is yourself, bc your dumb*ss didn't listen to my advice at the beginning of this post and decided to get on that plane or get in that car or hop on that bus and take your stupid trip. Now you're an addict. And let me tell ya sweetheart, withdrawals are a bitch.
It took me a long time to be able to put what it feels like to go through travel withdrawal into words. I love words, but sometimes they fail me - or maybe I fail them - in that I am incapable of digging deep enough into the recesses of my brain to find the best way to articulate my feelings, in any of my three languages. Do you know how hard it is to translate a feeling into words? So hard.
But I think I figured it out. Sometimes, I have this feeling like if I can't be somewhere, I'm going to burst into a million pieces. I could be scrolling through the camera reel on my phone or the memory reel in my head or even talking to someone about their adventures in a place I've never been. And it hits me. That inevitable, unstoppable, overwhelming feeling that my life depends on being in that place right at this moment bc if I can't get there right this second I'm going to keel over and die. It's like someone is filling up a balloon dangerously close to popping. It's me. I am the balloon in this scenario. I don't wanna pop, guys.
And it is by no means a new feeling. This wave of emotions has hit me more times than I'd like to admit when I'm away from Germany or Spain or home for too long. It hits me when I stay in one place too long or haven't left the country in awhile or when things in my life are tough and I wish I could be somewhere nobody knows me and I could lose myself in the joyous occasion that is experiencing a new place or being back in an old one. Tonight it hit me when I was looking through old pictures of my time in Southeast Asia. More like it punched me in the face, but whatever. And what's ridiculous is I haven't even been home a full month yet. What's even more ridiculous is the fact that I move to Germany in less than two months. I have no reason to feel this feeling right now, but the fact that I am not sitting on the side of the road eating street food and petting a stray dog on the streets of Hanoi is really frustrating me right now.
That is not to say that I'm not happy to be home. I am so happy to be home. Like, over the moon happy. I get to spend every day for three months with all my favorite people in the entire world, whether it be with family in California or family (currently) in Texas. It's the best. In fact, they're going to have to force me onto the damn plane to Germany bc despite how excited I am to go, I am already dreading leaving. But that feeling that I have everywhere to be and not even a fraction of the time I need to get there persists. It's always there, in the back of my head, pushing me towards my next adventure. This feeling is the reason why I laugh quietly to myself when people say it's great that I'm traveling while I'm young to "get it out of my system" as if this isn't how I plan on spending the rest of my life.
So with all of this in mind, my advice to you is this: just don't go.
Unless, of course, you want the experience of a lifetime and a new perspective on who you are and your place in the world and a newfound appreciation for what you have and a really cool looking Instagram feed and a love for new cultures and friends all over the world and more happiness than you can even comprehend and a very, very empty bank account (less desirable but an unavoidable side effect). If that's what you're looking for, then by all means catch that flight or get in that car or hop on that bus. Bc maybe you're like me, and you'll think that it's so much more than worth it. Go. Fall in completely and irrevocably in love with the world. It will be a love that grows with every trip and visit and move and new experience. I can't tell you that it will be a love you will ever fall out of, but I can promise you that it's the kind of love you want to be in.
So please, when you ruin your life by traveling the world... don't say I didn't warn you.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece, Vatican City, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina