There’s a pattern emerging… we call it traveler’s blues. Abroad, Sofie and I feel energized, liberated and more in tune with ourselves. We come back with enough confidence and energy to take on the world. Our traveler’s high usually lasts up to three weeks before it starts to fade. Perhaps you are familiar with this feeling? Regardless of your determination, you lose that amazing feeling and reality inevitably reins you in.
Our experience abroad is directly proportional to our traveler’s blues afterwards. We started wondering why there is such a big difference between the persons we are when exploring new countries and who we are back home? How should we deal with traveler’s blues? Not traveling is out of the question. Perhaps traveling more frequently could be an effective cure? Or doing more adventurous things?
Here’s what we discovered.
Sofie had a bad case of traveler’s blues back in 2012, right after our trip to Singapore and Bali. Chasing dolphins, starlight dinners and hiking through rice fields did not exactly make her look forward to her job as management assistant. Consequently she felt completely detached from the person she was abroad.
My turn came with Peru in 2015. I had never felt more alive and adventurous in my entire life. Back home I realized I had my priorities all mixed up. I was spending time, money and energy on things out of habit, not because I really craved them. It led to me starting this blog in search of a brand new set of priorities.
Finding the culprit
For over a year Sofie and I tried to figure it out. What made us so unhappy after traveling? What stopped us from hanging on to that amazing feeling? We considered everything:
- Sofie took a subsidized career orientation workshop which clearly indicated that her interests did not lie in assisting managers but rather its direct opposite: gardens and the preservation of nature. Was it Sofie’s job that drained her energy?
- Then again, perhaps it was our old house and large garden that weighed us down? Wherever you looked there was always something that needed fixing or improving.
- Instagram pages and blogs of millennials traveling for a living were popping up. Perhaps we had more in common with Generation Y – traveling the globe – than with Generation X – being responsible and working nine-to-five shifts?
- Speaking of which… Maybe my relentless commuting hours were finally taking its toll? After all, they turned my nine-to-five job into an eight-to-seven juggernaut.
- Maybe this was just what they call a midlife crisis? Most likely this happens to everyone and therefore we shouldn’t fret about it.
We decided not to rush to conclusions but instead focus on the things we loved doing: Sofie went for that career shift and gave it her all. I started looking for that next travel opportunity.
Into the woods!
Last year Sofie and I were invited by a friend who had migrated to Finland. He was about to get married! Sofie preferred staying at home to work on that drastic career change so I decided to get rid of my traveler’s blues by traveling solo for the first time.
The day after the party everyone flew back home or departed on honeymoon but my journey was only about to begin. I exchanged beautiful Helsinki for quaint Savonlinna. In Oravi I chartered a boat with Saimaa Holiday. The guy behind the counter told me Linnansaari island would be completely deserted but I decided to carry on.
Something in me needed that adventurous hike. Just me and my camera. Pushing my limits. Chasing that traveler’s high…
I was rewarded! Halfway my hike snowflakes came dwindling down. The moment was pure magic. In less than an hour the whole island was covered under a pristine, white blanket. You can read the whole story or see the video…
By the time the boat arrived to ferry me back to Oravi a blizzard had formed. What an unforgettable day!
The door to adventure is unlocked!
While sipping my hot tea I started comparing this experience to chasing dolphins in Bali or witnessing the splendor of Machu Picchu. During each of those experiences I had felt more alive, more present in the moment and my senses were heightened. I definitely wanted more of that in my life.
Lakeland was beautiful but more important: I had successfully arranged all this. By myself. Leaving my movies and comfortable couch behind to go hiking on a snow-covered, deserted island? A few years ago I would have dismissed this possibility as a silly fantasy.
I had finally kicked open a door to endless possibilities and you know what? It turns out this door was unlocked… and had been my entire life!
But still… those blues
While my solo adventure was both impressive and rewarding, I couldn’t shake that restless feeling. My traveler’s blues had followed me all the way to the dark woods of Finland. And frankly, it scared the sh*t out of me. Even traveling couldn’t make me truly happy anymore… that could mean only one thing: something else was in the way. What was causing my restlessness? And more important: how could I get rid of it?
The answer lay not in the dark woods of Finland but closer to home.
Stay tuned for more…
What about you, do you suffer from traveler’s blues? If so, how do you deal with it? Share your comment below and you will be notified when the next article is published.