I am often asked why I travel, why I wander, why I can’t sit still. I usually respond with a one or two sentence answer–enough to answer their question but not too much to make them roll their eyes and start daydreaming. As I’ve been in South Korea for 8 months now (and still missing the 2.5 years spent in England), I have been thinking a lot about this question lately. There are many many reasons why I’m destined to wander this world…..here are a few of them:
I wander because that is who I am. I’m a wanderer through and through. My dad was in the Air Force when I was young and we lived in Maryland, Aviano, Italy and Texas during the first 7 years of my life. After leaving the Air Force, we moved to Ohio, but we moved around few more times until I graduated high school. At that time, I moved to college, my parents moved to New Jersey (and Utah afterwards) and my brother moved to California. None of us can sit still for too long and I’m proud to be in a family of explorers. In 2010 I moved to England to pursue my masters degree and am now living in South Korea. I’m not sure when (or if) I will ever find a place to ‘settle down’ and I am perfectly happy with that. My wanderlust is never ending, I wander because it is who I am.
I wander because I am curious. As far back as I can remember, I was an explorer. After seeing The Land Before Time, I wanted to be a paleontologist and after seeing the Indiana Jones movies, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I wanted to travel, dig in the dirt, and see what I could find. That sense or curiosity hasn’t left me and though I no longer want to dig in the dirt, I still want to examine the world through my camera lens.
I wander for my mental health. I was not happy living in Ohio, being stuck in an unfulfilling job and feeling like I was watching my life pass me by. Traveling is not easy, but I am infinitely happier doing so. It has it’s challenges and I find myself frustrated and often confused. Still, I feel like I am actually doing something with my life and that gives me peace. I am never happier, more relaxed, or content than when I am traveling.
I wander to be happy. I left my corporate job back in 2010 and have been exploring the world as much as I can. I returned to the US from Dec 2012-Aug 2014. Though I was glad to spend some quality time with my family (especially my niece and nephew) and friends, I was not happy. Life in the US (particularly southern Ohio) is not for me. I am not a small-town kind of girl and I do not handle drama, racism, or bigotry very well. It did not take me very long before I was yearning to get out again. Of course, I face some of the same issues while traveling, but then I simply move on and cut that (and people like that) out of my life. Life is too short to be weighed down by ignorance. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
I wander because I am restless. I want to see EVERYTHING! There are very few places that I will not (or cannot for safety reasons) go and I get yearly Spring Fever. As soon as the trees start to get leaves and the flowers start to blossom, I start daydreaming of adventure. Sometimes that adventure means moving to a new place and sometimes it simply means planning a trip. I travel because I cannot sit still in one place for too long before I want to see something else.
I wander to learn. I want to learn about the countries I visit. I want to learn about the people I meet. I am always seeking new information and new ways to use my education. I studied photography in undergrad–I want to be a better photographer. I studied Intercultural Communication for my postgrad–I want to take what I learned and examine myself and others while I travel. I never want to stop learning and growing. I wander to foster personal and professional growth.
I wander to challenge myself. Whether it is facing my fear of heights at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, stalking a she-moose down a mountainside with my dad (or playing fetch with it…long story), or expanding my sometimes-limited palette–I travel to challenge myself. Facing fear and uncertainty is not easy for anyone, but I grow dramatically through these experiences.
I no longer want to be a paleontologist or archaeologist. When people ask me what my dream is, I say I want to see as much of the world as I possibly can while I can. I wander, I mosey, I travel, and I see my dreams fulfilled.
I often wonder what makes me want to see the world and wander, as you put it. I might have to write about this and really dig deep and find out why I long to see what else is in store for me and my family. I’m fortunate that I have my husband and wonderful Jensen who must have inherited that love of travel from me. He is the best 2 year old traveler and feel blessed.
I often dreamt about being someone like Boardain who eats his way through so many different countries. Two of my most favorite past times and get paid for it, I would be in hog heaven! I never thought about being an the Indiana Jones, I want to be just like Anthony.
Thanks for reading my post! I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to share your adventures with your husband and Jensen–most likely the way my parents felt exploring Italy with 2 little ones in tow!
Yeahhhh, as I’ve gotten older I think less about digging in the dirt and daydreaming about all the yummy food I’m gonna eat/wonderful drinks I’m gonna try out. I love his show!
This post took me a little while to write as I’d been mulling things over in my head for quite some time…. I think it is just as much for me as for my wonderful (wink wink) readers!
I find this topic a (potential) perfect introduction to your blog—the Neverending Wanderlust on Why She Wanders. 🙂 I also liked that you really “dissected” yourself, listing down the various reasons you need to wander, and how it’s necessary to who you are. It made me do a kind of soul-searching, in fact, asking myself why I’m here where I am right now. I can see you conquering the world through the lens of your camera and looking back knowing you did everything you wanted to do. A part of me is envious (because I also used to love traveling a lot) but a part of me also can’t help but admire the fact that you’ve always known what you wanted, ever since you were young. I think it takes a strong mind and spirit to know what you want early on in life and to pursue it.
Thank you for sharing. 🙂
Thank you very much for reading my blog and your kind words! This post was definitely took me a while to write and a lot of self examination for sure… it makes me feel wonderful that you took the time to comment on this post and that it inspired you to do a little bit of soul searching as well. I wish you all the very best and thanks again for reading–you made my day 🙂
Awesome! So glad to read that it made you happy! I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂
I really like your “i wander to challenge myself”. Travel definitely teaches us a thing or two about our strengths. Which country has challenged you the most? Where do you think you would end up after Korea with your wandering feet?
Thanks for reading Rafiqua! I think each country challenges me in a different way… I suppose I’ve challenged myself the most in Cambodia or Vietnam, but that’s mainly because it was recent and the culinary challenges were a trip! The Cliffs of Moher still take my breath away though when I remember hanging over the cliff to get a few pictures of the ocean 🙂
Mentally I’m thinking of moving to somewhere in the Middle East next…. haven’t quite decided, but I’d like to work my way back east a bit before going West!
We can agree on most of these reasons, save for #1. We get asked the same question, often followed by “when are you coming home?!” far too often to keep track of. Our families have never been prone to wander as we have, so it is difficult for them to understand our desire to go and see what else is out there. We all have different paths in life and not all who wander are lost.
That certainly can’t be easy–I’m definitely thankful that my immediate family is super supportive. My brother does tease my from time to time, especially since my niece and nephew are old enough to keep asking where ‘auntie’ is! Ahh, yes… on of my all-time favorite lines… not all who wander are lost… couldn’t agree more 🙂
Well put! This is definitely something most of us here in Korea and beyond can relate to. It’s a wonderful thing to have wanderlust, although cumbersome when you’re stuck back home waiting until you can explore a new place again. I think it’s great that you psychologically broke down your reasoning – I’m sure it helped you better understand yourself as well. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks very much for reading! It was as much of a personal, introspective piece as something to share for sure!
And I thought I was reading the introduction to your blog or the “About Me” page. I has to check again hahahaha! You’re a TCK – a Third Culture Kid! You’re lucky to have seen and traveled a lot. Good luck to more. And when the time comes thatbyou want to settle down, you can say that you’ve seen ’em all!
Thanks for reading 🙂 Yeah, I certainly feel like a TCK at times! Yeah, at least I know I can say I chased my dreams and succeeded!
This post really resonates with me! I travel for a lot of these reasons as well; mostly it’s just because it’s the thing I’ve found which makes me the happiest. The big one though is to challenge myself. It sounds masochistic, but I love getting into those scary/tricky situations and seeing how I handle it. You can really learn a lot about yourself by how you handle stress in an isolated environment.
Thanks for reading Nathan! I can definitely see your love of ‘the challenge’ from you blog-I totally agree, you really learn who you are at your core in those moments 🙂
I really identify with your “I wander for my mental health” point. I cringe so hard whenever I hear people say “you can’t chase happiness” or “you’re just running away from reality”. Even those who can struggle with mental health (and I’m not sure if you do or not), can have the strength to travel. Travel doesn’t discriminate! I’ve found happiness through exploring, just like you have. Thanks for this!
Thank you for reading my post and glad to see that you identified with that particular section 🙂 Traveling and continuing to travel can be really tough for me at times, but I always find the strength to ‘just keep swimming’!
I loved this and am certainly going to pass it on. I really can’t fault anything you did, and will probably say that wandering “to learn” was my favorite bit there. I think I understand where you’re coming from here, living not far from where you did along the Ohio River. It can be quite depressing and some of the people I know there aren’t doing so well. I’m happy you also made the leap and got out!
Also, I love the layout of your site. You might have to give me a lesson on how to make that happen!
Thanks very much for reading my post and for passing it along 🙂 It’s definitely nice to talk with someone who came from a similar place and who has also embraced the traveling lifestyle 🙂
Always happy to attempt to pass along anything I’ve learned… I’ve only been working with WP since the Lunar New Year, but am trying my very best to be a quick learner!