I was recently inspired by a thought-provoking post from Seth Godin about how new things we experience in life lose their thrill over time. He says the definition of a thrill is temporary excitement, usually experienced for the first time. It’s true. After all, how can repeating something be as thrilling as the first time?
What It Means To Lose The Thrill
I was struck by how accurate of a description that was for me at the moment and where I am in life. We are all aware of milestone events in our life that lose the “new-ness” over time. We all experience it. Things like jobs, cars, love, sex, haircuts, shopping, and even favorite hobbies can lose their “Wow” factor over time. It doesn’t mean it’s bad or not enjoyable anymore, it just loses the thrill.
Some of the most impressionable advice for businesses and relationships that I’ve heard that really hits the nail on the head, is choose to make it work. Choose to be happy, choose to love, choose to progress. Choosing to “go to bat” for the cause is so important because the thrill is always going to fade. It’s expected to fade.
It’s the same with travel.
Tired of Traveling?
We didn’t realize until it was a little too late to change our plans, but we lost the thrill of travel. (Wait…What?) No, I’m not talking about the thrill of arriving to a new place, meeting new people, and trying new foods. Those are all still pretty thrilling (to a point- I’m still not seeing the thrill in eating dog in Vietnam).
I’m talking about the motivation to get out and really explore a city, making the effort to get to know the locals, and chasing yet again, another waterfall. It always involves figuring out a lot of transportation links, studying a map, and researching online or books about attractions to see that aren’t too touristy and places to stay that are more than a blank room with a bed. It’s downright exhausting! Most people even feel a bit of a slowdown in their motivation after a fast-paced 2 week vacation to somewhere amazing like Hawaii.
Our friends and family say, “Oh, you must be tired of traveling now!” We’ve been on the road for over 2 years so it’s a correct assumption, I must say. But we are not tired of traveling, we LOVE traveling. It’s become a part of us because of this lifestyle we have chosen to live. We’d never be able to turn our backs on it. But… a break would be nice. A break to reconnect and experience “normal” again. Let me explain.
Finding Motivation – Where Are You?
Over our 2 and a half years of travel, we realized that we had lost touch with what our own society considers amazing, paradise, or the dream vacation. Some of the destinations we were visiting were all of that and more! Yet we found ourselves surprisingly lacking in energy and motivation to go out and explore it all.
Take for example, Bali.
We arrived a few days before Christmas. Bali had been one of our dream destinations for years and here we finally were! We checked into our adorable hotel and loved it! And then….we didn’t leave for a few days. We were just content to stay at the hotel, swim in the pool, walk to the beach for sunset, have a nice meal, and get some work done. That is so NOT like us! We are usually the hit-it-hard-see-everything-you-can type of travelers. What happened in Bali?
We were out of touch with what Bali was supposed to be. For example, if we had come to Bali over the holidays on a 2 week vacation fresh from the U.S. Bali would have been the ultimate vacation – with pure thrill for the new experience, driving around 12 hours a day on a motorbike.
From parasailing to gorgeous ocean beaches, it would be the paradise we’ve been dreaming of. However, we arrive to Bali after 2+ years on the road from Thailand, and think “Oh, this has nothing compared to _____________ place we were at.” or “Wow, this is such a touristy destination with so many people.” or “This seems like a nice place to relax since we’ve been on the go so much.”
It’s not that it wasn’t beautiful and we didn’t enjoy ourselves, because we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our travels in Bali. We had a blast! But after a while, it all seems the same and blurs together.
Each individual destination doesn’t get the thrill factor that it deserves because the thrill of travel has faded after traveling a long time.
And like I explained above, it doesn’t mean it’s bad and that you can’t still enjoy it. It’s just that the exciting thrill has been reduced.
Disconnecting to Reconnect Again
When you are from a country where traveling long-term is considered very unorthodox and strange, how do you relate to your friends and family? The majority of them have never been outside their country or maybe only once! How do you explain to your families about another elephant you saw, island you dived at, or sunset you saw without it seeming redundant? Or heaven forbid, bragging?
You can’t. They can’t relate to things like that because it seems so strange or exotic. Like seeing a monkey in the road – that’s as common in Thailand as a deer crossing the road in the midwest US. People really think we’re exaggerating when we tell them that.
We realized we had to reconnect with our American life and relationships again in order to better appreciate the places we were visiting.
So we came back. After 2 and a half years of long-term travel we came back.
Do we regret traveling long-term? No way. Slow travel and long term travel is one of our most favorite things to do! It’s the best way to travel. It’s really an eye-opener and helps you see the world differently then if you were to just pop in to a tourist trap for a few weeks.
It gives you a deeper meaning to travel and worldwide friendships. It’s invaluable.
The Hidden Pressure
I guess we felt like we needed to travel as much and as far as we could “now.” Before it’s somehow too late. This hidden pressure built every time someone would say to us, “You’ll never have a chance like this again.” or “Do it now while you can.” or “Once you start a family, you’ll never be able to do this again.”
It felt like an imaginary time bomb was being held over our head. Travel now or you’ll never get the chance again.
It’s not true.
Like the people who haven’t traveled long-term would know… Like we should have ever listened to them or paid them any attention…
You don’t have to get all your travel done or “see the world” before you settle down. Why do we all think that? The biggest lesson we have learned during this adventure is that if you truly want something, nothing is impossible. Go for your dreams! Why do we feel like we have to sacrifice travel for settling down or settling down for travel? Can we have both? I know it’s easier than it looks.
We’ve experienced uprooting our life in the U.S., selling our belongings, and saying goodbye to our family. I know it can be hard. But it wasn’t that hard. We knew what we wanted to do and the process went really smooth. Because we had a vision. And because of that, I know it would be easy to do it again. Of course, a lot harder with kids, much more challenging with a family, etc… But it’s not impossible. And travel will always be in our hearts.
So this doesn’t mean we won’t travel long-term again. It was one of the most exhilarating times of our lives! We can hardly imagine how fun it would be with our kids tagging along some day! If we can give them the gift of travel, we’ll have accomplished one of our missions in life! We can’t wait for the adventures a year from now, 5 years from now! Right now we’re stoked to be able to travel and explore some more in our home country!
We appreciate all the support we’ve had from YOU, our followers as well as friends and family along the way! There were those who believed in us even when they thought we were crazy. Thank You. Uneven Sidewalks has become a HUGE source of travel information and motivation for thousands of people around the world each month. We will continue to provide our best knowledge, tips, and stunning pictures from our travels because our goal here is still to get YOU out there and traveling the world!
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