Why Wanderlust is 'Holding Onto Childhood'

The (grainy) picture above is 7-year-old me with my cousin Bertan, circa 1992 in Turkey. This is my first memory of going to Turkey/an international trip, and the first time I fell in love with travel. Here was a country (that my mom was born in) completely different from my own, but equally as awesome. I was fascinated in the differences between Turkey and the USA, and I still carry that fascination with each new place I go.

Most people are pretty supportive of me being a major traveler, but every now and again I run across someone who has a major disdain for it. Sometimes I get the cliche "Maybe you're a bit lost," or "Can't you be satisfied with staying in one place?" The most annoying question I've been asked is: "Are you just trying to hold onto adolescence/childhood?"

My answer to this is...well yeah, kinda.

Let me explain.

Many of us have become quite curmudgeon in our "old age." I'm 29, by the way, and you'd be surprised at how many of my peers say "UGHHHH. I'm going to be 30! I'm soooooo old." Wait really? Because I think if you said that exact proclamation to a 70 year old, you'd get laughed at. But we've been trained to believe the lie, haven't we? I digress...

In a sense traveling is "holding onto childhood." It's holding onto that sense of wonder children see the world with, daily. How invigorating, how enthralling to hold onto to those things that give us a passion for life!

I won't lie--it's addictive. Stepping off the plane into a foreign airport, with BIENVENUE or CIAO or  HOSGELDINIZ gets me every time right in the pit of my stomach. I love the feeling of whizzing through the border agents and being there--that space between the exit of the airport and the first sidewalk greeting you into a new country. This is my zone. In this space, I am welcomed by all possibilities:

  • Learning tidbits of a new language. 
  • Gawking at beautiful buildings.
  • Learning new transit systems (wait, there are places where you don't need a car??)
  • Keeping an open mind whilst becoming engrossed in a new culture. 
  • Learning the traditions of the land. 
  • Trying new foods/drinks. 
  • Discussing politics/how Americans are viewed. 
  • Hearing what locals have to say about how our news is reported vs. how their news is reported. 
  • Learning about other religions. 
  • Meeting people that have grown up outside of my cultural bubble, thus understanding different mindsets (a precursor for true peace between nations). 
Suddenly, you come to understand that having the mind of a child actually makes you more mature, grown-up, and open-minded. From travel comes wisdom. 

Sure, sometimes I "lust" after travel. Sometimes it can be a dangerous game of always leaving, never learning to be a happy with settling; but don't we all partake in that game in different ways? There are people that jump from lover to lover, or hobby to hobby...always moving, not ready to settle. The ultimate point is that settling cannot be forced upon anyone. Whether you are choosing to "settle in one place," or "settle down," it must ultimately be your choice to do so. If you want to travel the world for 50 years, DO IT! If you don't want to get married, don't! If you want to have 8 kids, have them! DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU, IT'S YOUR LIFE. 

Will you walk the path that's right for you, despite what others say?

So to the person who asked (with an attitude): "Are you just trying to hold onto adolescence/childhood by wanderlusting?" 

YES. I'm 29, I love to travel, I don't need to settle yet, AND I AM HAPPY. If that's hard to understand, I would suggest a little traveling to challenge that deeply engrained mindset of yours.

And with that, I'm off to Portland this week! 


  1. I find it really annoying when people try to make you feel shitty about your life. IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS IF I ENJOY TRAVELING AND LIVE A LIFE THAT PRIORITIZES TRAVELING!

  2. Beautifully put! Also...maybe if we all had a child-like curiosity, we could all admit that we don't always have all the answers. It could improve relationships, politics and international relations.

  3. I love this! This is beautiful. I, for one, admire your tenacity and love for traveling. I love how you have built a life that embraces your traveling passion, and you are not doing stuff just because you are "supposed" to be doing it at this point in your life. Life is meant to be LIVED! And you, my friend, are living it.

  4. YES. I have always believed that pride gets in the way of people learning how to relax and really get to know one another.

  5. Thanks Steph! Seems that you're doing a fair amount of living in your part of the world, also :)

  6. ::::Truth bombs:::: But seriously though, traveling does help in opening your eyes towards other cultures and it (should) help develop one's compassionate nature.

    I also wanted to ask, have you taken a gander at my "Best Soul Covers of Rock n Roll Songs"? http://bit.ly/1x7BRpe

  7. love this post. you seriously described how i feel about travel. i don't get to travel that much but when i do, i am just in awe of this new place. my husband on the other hand, could never travel again and be happy - wtf. who did i marry. jk. he is down for travel when i really really really want to, but he's not the kinda guy that gets excited about travel, planning it or anything like that. he'd rather fix up the house, which i dig too, but we have plenty of time for that! yay for travel! :)

  8. Love this post, couldn't agree more!

  9. There are plenty of Americans who aren't into traveling! I think it's cause we're so isolated here, but I guess it's more than that. Because, obviously Australians are quite isolated and you guys travel like crazy! But yeah, I guess since I grew up traveling, I just have the mindset for it! I always want to encourage others to travel, but I do realize that not everyone is as into it, so *sometimes* I back off.

  10. I love hearing how traveling is "home" for you. For me, the part that I enjoy most about travel is doing the normal, every day things that people there do. It's getting a cup of coffee at the shop around the corner, eating a simple meal at a tiny restaurant, walking to the market, etc etc. My parents weren't born in the states either and I'm a first generation American. Travel has meant a lot to me about how I call the USA home and what that actually means

  11. YES! My favorite thing to do in a new country is go to the market. It's the best way to see how the country works (and eats). I love those little minor things. You get it :)