Between Trips: Coping with Wanderlust

We recently came home from Cape Cod. During the first few minutes of being home, I was happy to be out of the car after a long drive. Soon after, though, I started thinking about our next trip. This feeling is pretty normal for me, and I’m often finding ways to stay positive and find adventures close to home between bigger travels.

Wanderlust is defined as “a strong desire to travel.” It is something I have felt for most of my life and is only soothed by, well, traveling. The trouble is, sometimes Wanderlust gets me down, and I have to refocus and find things to be grateful for at home.  It’s not that our home is bad. We live in a beautiful state, we have a decent roof over our heads, and we love our local friends and family. But, for whatever reason, the urge to travel is so strong for me.

What was interesting about this homecoming, though, is that I noticed a change in my son. The day after we returned home he seemed sad, and had a hard time explaining why. Finally, he was able to articulate it in a way that spoke to me. “I’m happy to be home, but I’m not happy to be home.” I knew exactly what he meant.

I gave him a knowing smile and rubbed his back while I thought of how to respond. For a few minutes, the words escaped me as I thought of my own, similar feelings. That’s when I decided to approach with empathy and said, “I know. I feel it too. Sometimes people travel and feel relaxed and happy when they’re home. Sometimes people come home and immediately want to travel again.” He smiled and hugged me, as if to signal that he was glad to not be alone in this feeling.

So how do we “cope” with these big feelings? That was something else I had to practice more, since I was not the only person struggling anymore. These three things have helped me somewhat in the past, but I plan to practice them more diligently.

  1. Find Daily Gratitude – The focus here is positivity. Looking around to find things to be grateful for on a daily basis. When practicing gratitude, let go of any guilt. Simply focus on the things to be grateful for.
  2. Little Local Adventures – Since we live in a beautiful state, this is an easy task to accomplish. Taking nature walks, going hiking, spending the day near a lake, or even going to a neighboring state for a day trip. These micro adventures help ease the Wanderlust, even just for a day.
  3.  Plan the Next BIG Adventure – On rainy days especially, break out Pinterest and take some written notes on places to see. The day of this discussion with my son, we started to talk about visiting all 50 US states and other countries we wanted to see. I could feel the excitement, even though we were just sitting on our couch. Sometimes we’ll go as far as budgeting out certain destinations, just to have and idea of how much to save for.

The idea of needing to cope with Wanderlust may seem silly, to those who have never experienced. However, this feeling can slowly creep up and make one lose sight of the things to be grateful for at home. Instead of sitting, wishing you were anywhere but home, try these three things until you’re able to travel. Practice gratitude, find a local adventure, and plan for the big one.

-Sarah Chase


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