I have had an undying urge to travel and see the world since I was a little girl; I have a rare condition,which I have coined ‘TS’: Travel Syndrome.
I’d estimate that less than 5% of the population is born with this syndrome. Although it can be prompted at any stage in life, by any event, I find that the most extreme cases are commonly those who have been affected from a young age. People who possess this pleasurable affliction understand that this severe wanderlust fully occupies the mindset and lifestyle.
Common Symptoms the TS may include:
-Getting antsy and anxious from being in one location for too long. TS-er’s may never experience the joys that accompany being in one place for an extended period of time; the sea of sights to be seen in this world are far more inspiring and rewarding for us than witnessing the changes of one location overtime.
-Not missing people while traveling. While traveling, we have an engrained mentality that it’s vital to be present to every experience with every vein in our body; to be able to successfully take it all in, we easily abandon our feelings of attachment to those at home. Were not heartless, we just won’t miss you.
-Never wanting to settle down. We are highly disturbed by this type statement: “He makes me want to settle down.” We like to completely disregard the stagnancy that accompanies socially prescribed dreams of settling down. The ‘American Dream’ is a horrifying account of average people being sucked into…settling down.
-Embracing the dirt factor. Lets face it, true travelers aren’t afraid to get dirty. With hours of trains, planes, and automobiles, we have learned to embrace the grunge that eventually plagues the body after extensive days of travel and adventure. No, I haven’t showered, but thanks for asking.
-The ability to feel at home, no matter where we’re at. We are able to maintain a strong sense of self while abroad; in fact, our personalities are often enriched while traveling. As the Haitian motto encourages, Konstwi ak sa nou ye kote, we are continually building who we are, where we are. Our ability to relish new, different things ensures that our homes are quite literally where our hearts are. Paul Theroux, one of my favorite writers, so deftly writes: we are homesick most for the places we have never known.
-An unrelenting optimism, even in unfortunate situations. To put it bluntly, things never go as planned. But, our unnaturally optimistic outlook allows us to know that the new twist of events will turn out even better than what we had planned in the first place. The missed train can lead to a new friend who has an alternate idea for an action packed day. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
-Repulsion at the ‘common tourist.’ While traveling, we do not like to associate with ‘tourists,’ no offense. Those of us with TS are able to quickly mingle our way into the culture, lifestyle, and hearts of the people inhabiting the visited country. It may be a brash mentality, but we see ‘tourists’ as shallowly skimming the surface of countries with eyes only for famous monuments. Mass barriers of language, culture, clothing and customs don’t stop TS-er’s…. we delve head first into the culture. We have mastered body language techniques and quickly pick up on cultural gestures and language bits in order to facilitate communication to skivvy our way into the bubble. Quick, Hide! An American tourist with a video camera! Maybe we can blend in…
Other side-effects may include:
-A keen observation eye, and acute awareness
-A strange affinity for airports
-Frustrations of people not understanding what we crave
-The sparking of an even greater urge to travel upon arrival at a new location
-Being able to fit the next phase of your life in a carry-on
-Hours of depression and emptiness upon arrival back “home” from travels
-The source of your pride is a little blue book with stamps.
-Having non-blood-related family members all over the world
-Being accused of making up stories. No, really… that happened.
–Having an easier time falling for places than people
-Accepting that it’s not a phase; it’s a lifestyle. You can’t fake it; this action packed life requires constant planning, a genuine dedication to other cultures, and the ever-occurring onset of a new adventures.
Us TS-er’s were born equipped with an unparalleled open-mindedness. We serve as innate ambassadors for the world who are always building relationships that withstand all time zones. It is our passion and our duty to see though new lenses while roaming large lands and simultaneously sifting through small world connections.
Call us what you want, wanderers, voyagers, trekkers, explorers, rovers, itinerants, drifters, journeyers.We are activists and avid acceptors of this world, capable of taking on radically different perspectives at any given moment. Our experiences have ushered profound spiritual, mental, emotional, and social growth.
We carry the burdens of this world on our shoulders; as I return home, my steps become a little slower, as if my body is weighted down from playing the role of witness. Sometimes, we have seen too much. Paradoxically, I often feel lighter too, as if the sights I saw somehow set free a part of me that was caged before. Either way, rest assured that we use our new found knowledge ferociously to activate positive change in this world; as clichéd as it sounds, we will do everything in our power to make the world a little better.
We have the Travel Syndrome.