What It’s Like To Have Wanderlust, But Not The Means To Wander


I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who didn’t need a 9-5 job to feel safe.

I like the way taking risks makes me feel: my heart warm, pulsating and ever so present in my chest, my body captivated by the rush of adrenaline and my mind filled with the resulting electrical energy. I like the unknown. I live for the unknown.

I can’t stand routine. I suppose I’ve always hovered around a state of normalcy, like for example going to the same handful of bars on the weekend, eating the same types of food I always have and sticking to a fashion style I know well. But the truth is, I don’t know what I’d do without the curveballs life throws at me and the moments of uncertainty I face every day.

Perhaps growing up in a small town made me this way, but I’ve always had this long-term desire to get out and see the world, like a tick or a bad-habit that consciously taps into my perspective and the future I continue to plan for myself.

I couldn’t begin to express how much I’d like to pack a bag, get in my car and drive across the country. My wanderlust has been something like the guy who’s too good for me, something I’ve always wanted but can’t have. It’s something that has such a simple solution but an unachievable one at that.

How do people do it? How does one just say “f**k it” and leave everything behind? I want that. I want to leave it all behind.

The place I grew up and currently reside carries a never-ending pile of bad memories. My childhood was tough and as “glass half empty” as it sounds, the big experiences in my life thus far have been fairly devastating. Maybe that’s why I want to get out. Maybe I just want to go experience a different part of the world without the associated pain as a constant reminder.

Or maybe it’s just who I am. I love being a part of nature. I crave the excitement of a road trip and a fascinating sight is just that much more breathtaking to me. I like simplicity, things that are beautiful without effort and experiences that can’t be replaced with material possessions.

I’ve realized there’s really only one major necessity that’s holding me back: money.

You can’t go cross-country with twenty dollars in your pocket. You just can’t. There’s certain things you need to finance, like the cost of gas, lodging, food and other miscellaneous elements along the way. As carefree and boundless as it seems to get up and leave, it actually requires the making of a fairly bulletproof plan.

So, I suppose someone like me needs to pick her battles. Maybe I need that 9-5 job in order to accomplish the real dreams I have. Maybe I’m overthinking it and it’s all a lot less complex than I imagine. But either way, it seems as though money legitimately is exactly what I need to be happy.

Here’s what it’s like to want to travel the world more than anything but can’t due to a lack of funds:

1. You feel stuck.

What would I do if I had an absurd amount of cash piling into my bank account every day? One thing’s for sure: I wouldn’t be here.

I’m sure most people’s answer to that question would involve a yacht with a fully hired staff and endless bottles of top-shelf champagne. But truthfully, I don’t need all that. I don’t even want all that.

I just want what it takes to get me from point A to point B. I just want to wear my Timberlands and a big comfy sweatshirt, my hair in a bun and a can of beer in my hand. It’s all I’d need to see thing I’ve never seen before, stare out into a new kind of sunset and observe an unfamiliar landscape.

But without all that, I’m here, and here certainly has it’s boundaries. I wouldn’t want to call it a prison because it’s not, it’s a beautiful place to live. But it also means passing the same buildings, trees and familiarities I’ve seen hundreds of times since I was four. Eventually, you become so immune to it that it’s difficult to appreciate it all for what it is, and without a way out, you can’t help but feel slightly trapped.

2. You find yourself on Google. A lot.

I’ve probably Google’d every major city in the United States along with all major landmarks, mountains, and national parks at least a dozen times.

I’ve looked at an uncountable number of Grand Canyon pictures, searched “Things To Do” in Vegas and even developed a solid list of cheap hotels in the south. My wanderlust has led me to begin a “fantasy plan” for my much-desired travels and I’ve learned that doing so helps kick the cravings for a while.

3. The short car rides become that much more exciting

Preparing for an hour-long trip to Grandpas? Hell yeah. Pack up the car with snacks and carefully craft the perfect road trip playlist. This drive is going to be off the hook.

When you’ve been stuck in one place for too long, any sort of escape becomes legitimate. The trip to the casino becomes that much more interesting and even driving on the highway allows you to feel a small hint of adventure. As long as there’s a road ahead of you (and you’ve downloaded both seasons of Serial in advance), there’s nothing stopping you from feeling like your fulfilling your travel wishes one car ride at a time.

4. You live vicariously through Instagram

I’ve grown to be extremely jealous of certain people I follow on Instagram. Although I’m fully aware that social media allows for a much-perfected version of the truth, I still can’t understand how a select few are able to travel as much as they do.

I’m talking about the people who seem to go on far-away vacations at least five times a year, or the photography junkies who literally travel the country and take pictures of everything I’ve ever wanted to see in my life.

Or what about the people who studied abroad and just….never seemed to come home? What’s their situation like? How are they affording it? Side note: if you are one of these people and you are currently reading this, I’m still looking to find out how you’re living your life so well.

Instagram has provided a single place for every person who’s ever taken a picture of any substantial sight across the globe to post their photos and share them with millions of different people. Or in other words, it’s given me the heartbreaking opportunity to acknowledge the fact that other people are successfully seeing exactly what I’ve dreamt of seeing all my life. Lame.

5. It helps motivate you

Although my current lack of funds has successfully disarmed my ability to see the world, it’s still and always will be a longtime dream of mine. It’s allowed me to revisit the idea that no good thing comes with ease and accomplishing your goals requires a solid amount of hard work. If I don’t already have enough money to see the world, I guess I’ll just have to earn it instead.

And maybe I’ll settle for a 9-5 job for the time being, save up some cash and plan a real trip for the future. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my 22 years, it’s that giving up on something you love, even when it seems impossible, is never a worthwhile solution.

So for now, my dream is still just a dream. But one day, I’ll pack my bag, get in my car and drive far away. I’ll go to the places I want to go and see the things I want to see. If not now, then later. That, I’ve promised myself.Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I rarely follow my own wisdom.

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