A Letter To All Of The Wanderlust Stricken Souls

Aleksandra Hogendorf

I used to be one of you. I used to dream of foreign towns and cobblestone and mountain peaks, trace my finger on a paper map. I tested out the taste of cities on my tongue- Bruges and Napoli and Tangier and Porto. Names like candy. I dreamed of popping one in my mouth, savoring the sweetness, making these foreign flavors taste like home.

And so I did. I packed a backpack and boarded a plane with no return trip planned. The only remedy to wanderlust is to go. And even then, you are never cured.

I spent a year roaming and living a gypsy life. Cautiously at first, wandering around cities and sipping espressos in sunny piazzas. But a funny thing happens the longer you’re out roaming- you start living. You stop planning anything and surrender to the world, you learn to have faith and to trust, both the world and yourself.

I lived the local life in tiny white-washed Andalucian villages, where wine was cheaper than water and the accent thick and the air smelled of orange blossoms. And I got lost in the labyrinthine medinas of Morocco’s biggest cities and slept in the Sahara and went spelunking in Spain and picked olives in Italy and learned to make pumpkin ravioli and got drunk on sangria and went mud bathing in a river in Portugal and made so many wrong turns but so many right ones too.

This is not to say it was easy and wonderful all of the time, slices of cake with a view, because it was the highest highs and the lowest of lows. It was beautiful and crazy, but it was discomfort and disappointment as well. Like getting lost hiking a mountain as the sun was setting. Or missing the last bus out of town. But I learned to thrive in the hardships. I learned to adjust and be self-sufficient, like a Swiss Army knife, shiny and sharp-edged.

I let go of any expectations- because this is key, this is dire- and I woke up each morning not knowing where the day would take me. The freedom that comes with a nomadic life is dazzling, is addictive, is a sense of power and possibility.

But the most beautiful thing about roaming the world, better than any view that will amaze or food you will taste, better than the sea or the sky or the sunshine, sandy beaches or mountain tops, are the people you will meet along the way. The kindness of strangers- it may be cliché, an overused phrase that beckons an eye-roll- but there is nothing more beautiful. I have met strangers around the world that have welcomed me into their lives and their homes, strangers that have become friends and family, people that have helped me and taught me and healed me and changed me. People that have inspired me and people that have just made me laugh. Some I knew for mere hours, some I lived with for weeks, but regardless, they have all left their mark and make me smile when I think back to all of these beautiful moments like an atlas of maps, beautiful faces that mean so much more than any photograph.

This is all just to say, you can do it too. I dare you to. I dare you to go and explore, to roam and get lost and tame foreign soils into home. I dare you to fall in love with the world, to test it and be tested by it, to put your trust in its grasp. The way I see it, we live on this one little planet, this small globe in the clutches of infinite space studded by stars and galaxies, this ball of rock and water. It’s our duty to see more of it, to be an explorer of the planet we call home. It is the least and the most we can do: to see it with our own eyes, walk foreign soils and let them change us, chat with strangers and taste a life far from our own.

I dare you to go. I dare you to stop making excuses. I dare you to be bold. I dare you to go wherever your little heart desires. The only thing separating you from wherever you want to be is distance. It’s up to you to cross it.

Good travels, my friends. I wish you all the very best of adventures. I wish you to roam wild and free. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Dreaming about what it’s like to live abroad? Check out “A Year Without Make-Up: Tales of a 20-Something Traveler” from Thought Catalog Books here.


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