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I woke up this morning yearning to explore.
To go somewhere new, get lost, be amazed, be humbled, get challenged, be excited. Instead, of course I did the responsible thing and drank my coffee, brushed my kid’s hair, got her ready for school, sat down, and started my work day at home. That was the right decision for today, but it won’t cure my wanderlust. That is a condition that cannot be cured, only managed.
Many who read this site are also parents caring for little ones, or at least have “grown-up” responsibilities like jobs, dogs to feed, and bills to pay. Most of us can’t just say to ‘heck with it’ and head to the airport this evening to catch the last flight to Europe, South America, or wherever our heart strings are pulling. We have to take a deep breath, sit back down, and stay on track. Most of the time.
So how do you reconcile the pull to somewhere far away, and at the anchor of happiness and the necessity of home?
I love the routine and stability of home, and to be clear the desire to explore does not mean I want to runaway from anything at home. In fact, it is only because I have the stability of home that my soul feels free enough to dream of more. I’m not the type that would happily drift indefinitely at sea going wherever the current takes me. I need a safe and happy port to return to between voyages.
I’ve written before about the elusive balance of both home and away for those of us that who are wired to explore. And darn if it isn’t really an elusive balance. We’ve gotten better over time at finding the right balance for us, but life and the variables at play keep changing, so the right balance for last year doesn’t fit the equation this year. My daughter has more routines and responsibilities of her own now, but at the same time she now has been bitten by a travel bug of her own and wants to go “everywhere with you, even if you say it is boring.”
Wow, what a blessing, and a bit of a curse. One I understand completely. We are different, but we are the same.
As my travel bug has evolved, I have noticed that travel itself doesn’t fulfill my needs. Sure a trip keeps me busy for a few days, but when the dust has settled and the bags are unpacked, or at least put in the corner, that travel bug can still be as hungry as ever. It isn’t satisfied anymore simply by movement itself, but by something more complex.
It is satisfied by walking down the rainy streets of London, pausing to take in each building that I pass by. It is satisfied by the natural beauty of the emerald covered mountains on Kauai. The snowy slopes of Norway. The crystal clear waters of far-away islands. The dreams of early season snow falling on the Rocky Mountains.
It is satisfied by trying new foods I’d never before tasted, by viewing sights I’d only seen in pictures. Or by driving down roads so full of scenery that it’s all I can do to keep my eyes safely fixed on the road ahead.
I remind myself that this building desire to explore is good, just as experiencing the slight pain and discomfort of hunger before a meal is good. You have to want something to really appreciate getting it, and I want to explore. I need it.
Earning miles and points was born for me in large part out of needing to find a way to meet my need to drive to explore, while not jeopardizing my need for a balanced budget. Today I work on the ‘means to an end’ and I buy gift cards at 5x, I search award availability, I research hotels, I set fare alerts, I plan. I wait. All of that isn’t the “why”, it isn’t the end-goal, it’s the “how”.
And my how I can’t wait to really get back out there.