Most every traveler will, at some point or another, have to face the crippling melancholy that comes with the realization this can’t go on forever. For me this came just recently when Eric admitted that he’s been burnt out and wanting to go home for some time now. “But what about Africa?!”, I’d lament. “What about moving to Korea, and seeing Macchu Pichu, Galapagos and Moscow! We didn’t get to bathe elephants. How did we spend over a year in Asia and not bathe elephants? No, no. Not so fast. It’s not time yet. It can’t be ooooovveerrrr.”
They say that denial is the first stage of grief.
The truth is, traveling for longer than a year or two might be overkill. After a while it can start to take a toll on you, your relationship with your travel partner, and your relationships with people back home. After a while, all your memories start to run together and you can’t recall whether it was in Malaysia or in Thailand where that lizard jumped on your face during dinner, or out of the hundred beaches you’ve been to, which one had the softest sand. Like anything, travel becomes routine and you start to take it for granted. And in a way, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?
So I guess Eric’s not so far off after all. I’ve been feeling it too. It’s just that the going home part seems so mundane. I’ve always equated going home with getting a job (shudder) and growing up (vomit).
Let’s skip over the ugly “anger” stage. Enter bargaining, the third stage of grief.
I’ve had a few lessons on how bargaining works around the world. The trick is for the seller to ask some insanely inflated price, and for the buyer to incrementally work it down to something reasonable. We had a few rounds of back and forth before agreeing that we will go home…soon. “It makes sense to stop in the Middle East on the way home from Asia, right? What kind of a world traveler goes home without seeing the pyramids? This is my sticking point. Pyramids, or no dice.” Turns out this guy is pretty reasonable, so despite going the wrong way around the world (again), he agrees to seven more countries along the way. He also agrees that unless we’re starving, we’ll only take jobs that allow us to travel 2-3 months out of the year.
For the next two months our pace will be more akin to the Shinkansen train than our normal ambling along ancient, rickety tracks. Maybe it’ll help me blow right past the “depression” stage.
On to acceptance. All of our travel goals can still be achieved…just not on the same schedule we’d anticipated. I keep telling myself it’s not a death knell. I keep remembering all the people and things back home that I’ve missed over the last eighteen months. At home there’s organic food, knitting classes, Wash Park, my volunteering position, and a great group of friends to share it all with. It is not, it turns out, the end of the world.
It’s an opportunity to go back to our favorite place in the world.
So, Denver readers, see you in October!