To most people, the instant reaction when parents ask the inevitable question,
”What are you planning to do now you’ve graduated from university?”
It would be to give a sensible answer. You know? Something along the lines of, get a part time job, look for proper grown up careers, become a global phenomenon.
Not me, oh no. Instead I told my mum, I had randomly booked flights to Thailand.
Granted, she probably should have seen it coming. All I ever did was talk about how once I had finished university she wouldn’t see me again, I’d spread my little Lancashire wings and fly away. And it isn’t like springing travelling decisions like this on my family is uncommon for me in our house, but I think it made that Sunday dinner slightly more awkward and on edge.
Summing up two and a half months into a small blog post is not only impossible, but completely unfair to every place, person I met, thing I did and experiences that definitely deserve a sizeable mention. I made a list on my iPhone as I went along, of ‘things that I must remember to tell people to make them laugh, to gloat about and to put into a blog post as such’, but now I read it back and wonder just how to possibly summarise, and I can’t.
Thailand, The Thai Islands, Vietnam, The Philippines Islands, Malaysia, Sumatra.
Each place was so incredibly unique and captivating in its own way; every time I left a place I thought I would feel more accomplished. Hoping I would instantly have resolved every amount of travel wanderlust in my system and would come back a new person, like they promised me at university and on YouTube videos I had spent hours drooling over.
‘ I went on my Gap Year, I fed an orphaned llama, I climbed Everest and donated clothes to homeless mountain gorillas there before I bought the waviest elephant pants and got a symbolic tattoo and now I am found’.
I was so full of expectancies, that when I sat down and read through everything I had done, I was confused as to why I felt so overwhelmed but empty at one time.
Whoever tells you that travelling helps you find yourself and makes you totally at one with yourself, lies. I probably am about to come across as incredibly ungrateful and that’s not the point of this post.
Travelling is incredible and I can’t encourage people to do it enough, but travelling never cures wanderlust. You meet other travellers who have been at it for years, and every time they mention a new place to you, it subconsciously gets added to your internal mental bucket list. If travellers were to take up careers as sales persons, we would all find ourselves incredibly skint incredibly quickly. The world would be screwed.
I think I have since added about 29 countries to my must visit list, which brings me back to the point that travelling DOES NOT solve wanderlust. I left England hoping to do all these things, and returned to England having completed most of them but wanting to do even more. It’s a vicious cycle.
You then come back with stories to tell people who are willing to listen for about 5 minutes before they inevitably lose interest or have better things to talk about. After all, why would they want to see your photos and hear about all the amazing things you’ve done when they have been stuck at work for the past few months? It can be hard to feel like you’re on the same wavelength as opposed to both dodging awkward moments of ‘absolutely hilarious things that have happened’ but that actually didn’t involve the other person at all.
‘Remember that amazing night out the other week, we got ON IT, and then so and so ended up getting with so and so and then we went to that mint after party and you fell asleep in the plant pot? Oh wait, no sorry, that wasn’t you, you were in Vietnam…’
DISCLAIMER -Again at this point, I am clearly not saying I would prefer to be asleep in a plant pot in Preston, as opposed to cruising along the Hoi Van pass in Vietnam, they are totally incomparable. Going back to a normal routine, or rather trying to establish that routine again and waking up knowing that being productive is expected. Sometimes when travelling, the most productive days are totally unplanned, where you would spontaneously stumble across things you had no intention of finding.
Finding a job, socialising only on the weekends when people are free, food shopping, the gym, just slotting back into that normality can seem so foreign and be confusing.
I won’t lie, I’ve struggled each time I’ve returned from a substantial amount of time away.
And that pang of wanderlust, that is now ingrained in my head after watching my friends travel videos, photos, sharing travelling stories together over a sunset whilst sipping Chang beer in Thailand, well that wanderlust is definitely not going to stop any time soon; so I guess the only solution, is don’t stop. Keep sight seeing. Keep making bucket lists in your head. Keep practicing coming back to normality and use that horrid feeling of returning, to inspire you to plan the next trip all the sooner.