On Wanderlust

What is it about wanderlust?

Why does it hit so dramatically at times, so much so that it almost feels like a physical ailment? Why does it always strike when I am least capable of planning a trip – when I’m neck-deep in deadlines and hanging onto to the tether ends of my last paycheck? Even more fundamentally, what is it? Why do some humans feel an overwhelming urge to pack up and go, while others cling to routine and familiarity like a dear blanket? What happens when both of those things happen with you at the same time?

It must be an evolutionary push-and-pull going on inside there. Perhaps it’s to our psychological advantage to not become too attached to one place; at the same time evolutionary wisdom would say that it’s pragmatic to avoid possible danger, to stay close to your pack.

Why, at times, does wanderlust feel so very much like homesickness?

I am a shy person. Pattern has shown that when I lean into the wanderlust, book a big trip, embrace the excitement, there nonetheless comes a time shortly before my departure date when I’m suddenly overwhelmed with jitters. Rather than navigating unfamiliar territory, forcing my introverted self to interact with strangers, and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, curling up on the couch with Netflix suddenly sounds like the absolute party of the century. During travel there’s always at least a day or two when I regret my decision, when I feel like coming this far from home has been a gigantic mistake. And let me tell you, that is a miserable feeling. Why would anyone want that?

Fear, excitement – it’s all adrenaline. Maybe wanderlust is a craving for a double-dose of adrenaline, when for all your coffee and reasonable bedtimes and endorphin-producing work-outs you just can’t wake your soul up.

I supposed that’s why I find myself surfing travel sites and daydreaming about trips – I’m trying to placebo myself into feeding that addiction. Because yes, the only way to fight off the travel bug is to lean into it.