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The Reality of Wanderlust

Updated on April 13, 2023
Karla Taylor profile image

I was riddled by wanderlust for 19 years. I thought only travel could heal it but I was wrong.

Feeling Like Nobody Understands?

You see #wanderlust and #fernweh captions all over your Instagram feed, you see travel inspiration photos and people sharing memes of somebody holding onto the wing of an aeroplane with the caption "this is how much I need a holiday" but for you, the feeling isn't of simply 'needing a holiday'. The feeling is deep and intense, it affects your every day life. It hurts.

Involuntary visions of travel are a welcome distraction in most cases but when you know you're rooted in one country and your circumstances won't allow for you to travel as much as you'd like to, if at all, those involuntary visions can really make you feel down... but you'd never give them up for anything.


As a child, it's ambitious and admirable. As an adult, it's a common dream and nobody believes you will travel anymore, most importantly, neither do you.

Why Is It So Intense?

People experience Fernweh or Wanderlust for many reasons. Adolescents are likely to develop a strong desire for travel if their environment is difficult to live in or if they had a difficult childhood. The question is, how deeply will the Wanderlust run and how much of an affect can it really have on you?

The strong desire to travel can actually contribute to the cause of depression by inflating the dissatisfaction of ones whereabouts. Feeling stuck in one place can quite easily manifest into a feeling of being trapped, a feeling that would be easier to deal with, if only it wasn't daily.

Not many people, if any, would enjoy feeling trapped on a daily basis. It can get in the way of your life and your responsibilities; everybody else seems to be happy to work all year for one holiday and re-post travel inspiration photos to get them through, meanwhile, you can barely function because you can't stop thinking about what the weather is like in Eugene... or any place you can't go to for that matter.

It's not just children and adolescents that can develop crippling wanderlust, anybody can. In fact, it has been linked to bi-polar patients although it's important to acknowledge that anybody with a desire to travel could feel this way and it isn't pleasant.


You Can Do It

You must understand that you wouldn't have the desire to travel if you wasn't meant to travel. Think of all the things in the world that people want.; there are many things besides travel but this is what is in your heart.

You wouldn't feel like this over misdirection, the world is not that cruel a place.

Tips To Get Going

Try working backwards from your dream. You're in the place you most want to visit, on the trip that you've been daydreaming about for years. What is the step that comes before being there? Checking in to the hotel? Landing?

What is the step you will have taken before that? The flight? The commute from the airport? And before that?

Keep going until you get to where you are now. Once you have your list, have a look and see where you can add in steps that will make it happen such as: saving a certain amount of money monthly or having a clear-out and selling some unwanted items or perhaps schedule in steps that you would need to take in order to be able to leave your business, job or home for the duration of your trip.

The plan will begin to look like a feasible plan. Decide which of those steps you can take this year and start implementing them into your monthly, weekly and daily tasks. Tick them off, you're going towards your dream. Why would you go in any other direction?


The Flip-Side

As with everything, there is a flip-side. Wanderlust is or at least, once was considered to be a disease. There was a time where people would be locked up in mental asylums on the grounds of suffering from 'dromomania' for having an intense desire to travel and demonstrating such feelings by travelling around with no destination in mind.

Today, people who do have the means to travel paired with a mighty case of Wanderlust might find themselves seriously struggling to navigate their lives. Some people who experience Wanderlust find the idea of work or having a career almost unbearable but of course, they work so that they can fund their travel, leaving them with an area of dissatisfaction in their lives because they feel so uncomfortable and unnatural in a work environment.

People who have wanderlust may find that nothing can fill the hole that travel can fill and worry that they may never be finished on their adventures. This can make it difficult to settle down into romantic relationships and maintain relationships with friends and family. They may never find a career that makes them happy because they are so focused on their next trip that they can't put two single minutes together to think about it. They can't even put two single minutes together to enjoy their trip to it's full potential because they have worry eating away at them that somehow, something will get in the way of visiting their next destination. Maybe they even have the conflicting symptoms of Chirophobia, feeling as though they are enjoying the moments while they are travelling so much that the sadness of the fact that it will end becomes overwhelming, therefore not allowing them to enjoy the moments at all.

It's important to find a healthy balance and constantly work on your personal development. For me, wanderlust was something I thought I'd never be free of until I travelled. It was intense and persistent and dominated my thoughts until I started my personal development journey and in time, my mindset shifted and I started making decisions that would conquer my first step: freedom. Now I've got that, travel doesn't dominate my mind. I don't feel like I'm trapped anymore so I haven't got that internal "get me out of here" feeling.

© 2019 Karla Taylor


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