What is Wanderlust
“Chasing the horizon” for me defines the love of travel, describing perfectly the irresistible urge to make a journey or the continual hunger for experiencing new cultures. It encompasses an ‘attitude for adventure’ and a ‘free spirit’ and suggests that like man’s best friend it lasts for life.
“The time to stop travelling is when the horizon is reached”
The term ‘wanderlust’ is often used to describe those that love to travel, regularly making many sacrifices to realise their dreams. It is a condition most of us are happy being ‘afflicted’ with and would not take a cure even if one was available.
Are travellers born with this wanderlust, is it hereditary or do they grow into it? I have in the past intimated that adventurers are born not made, and there maybe a little truth in this, but more accurately it is probably our experiences and ambitions that shape us.
Evolution of an adventurer
My theory is partly based on my own experiences; I have always found myself getting into scrapes even as a kid, much to my parents frustration.
Long regular cycling trips to areas which allowed me to climb usually entailed either a late return home or worse my Dad having to drive around likely spots to recover me. Neither usually ended well, though sometimes they were under the impression I was staying with friends whilst really camping out at the crag, not sure how they got that impression. These were not the only occasions that my parents required to rescue me, trying to cycle across from St Annes to Southport without regard for the deep mud and the River Ribble estuary was ill-advised to put it mildly.
Incidentally attempting to cross the Ribble Estuary was not a one-off adventure, it was attempted on several occasions, I was convinced it was fordable. Fortunately my intrepid companions each time were not convinced and persuaded me to give it up.
Upon growing up, notionally at least, military service indulged this quest for adventure. Travelling to various parts of the planet for climbing, diving, kayaking, or skiing expeditions satisfied the explorer in me.
Eventually my time in the forces came to an end and attempting to ‘settle down’ seemed the order of the day, trying to ‘exist’ on annual trips. It did not last however and inevitably the wanderlust became irresistible and the ‘normal’ job was ‘ditched’ in favour of a return to ‘chasing the horizon’.
This is only my experience; every traveller has forged their own path to choosing a nomadic lifestyle, hobos by nature with a need to experience a regular dose of culture shock.
The Joy of travel
“To the traveller the destination is merely an excuse to make the journey”
In the modern era of cheap and convenient flights most people opt to fly, however the modern ‘nomads‘ that spend much of their time travelling are able to enjoy the opportunities presented by other forms of journeying. With more time available it is possible to travel overland, use various forms of transportation including trains and even securing passage on cargo ships. This can offer an experience akin to the old-fashioned ‘romance’ of travel‘ when the journey was as much of an adventure as the destination.
The driving force behind this continued desire to travel is personal to each individual, however there are almost certainly a few common denominators.
Anticipating a journey, the realisation that it is happening when all necessary arrangements are complete, grasping the hard to come by visa, packing, and the excitement of stepping out of our home to start the adventure. These are familiar feelings to all.
Destinations offer their own attractions; the majestic splendour of countless snow topped peaks in the Greater Ranges will cause all but the most blasé of travellers to stand speechless for several moments.
The hustle and bustle of a Moroccan medina, the aromatic fragrance of saffron and other spices in the souks or the pungent stench of its tanneries, they are all part of discovering a new culture. The thought of becoming immersed in a totally alien society is often perceived as the epitome of the travel experience; a Casa in Cuba, a tribal village in the Maasai Mara, a nomadic family in Kazakhstan or a monastery in Bhutan all will have most committed travellers almost salivating.
The mere mention of certain place names is enough to stir the imagination. Names so evocative we must be moved; Zanzibar, Timbuktu, Everest, New York, Kathmandu, Taj Mahal, Paris, Okavango Delta, The Amazon, Angkor, Venice, Machu Pichu, Concordia or The Antarctic the list is long and subjective one.
These are the basis of personal ‘bucket’ lists and will depend on the influences and interests of the individual. The reasons they excite us or why we choose them is as personal as our choice of music.
One thing those with wanderlust have in common however is they are only happy when travelling, and almost immediately upon returning from one trip they will be planning the next.
“Do not tell me how many countries you have visited, explain to me the cultures you have experienced”
Many keep some form of bucket list whether formally or just a subconscious itinerary of destinations intending to visit.
These maybe formulated by movies, television programmes or favourite magazines, prestigious lists such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites may influence any selection process.
They all have the essential qualities that appeal to us as travellers, they are able to evoke feelings of excitement or longing just by their sheer mention and the reason that many of us will continue to ‘chase the horizon’.