I have spent weeks noticing the changes; the snippy moods, the lack of energy, and the overall sense of being stuck. My creativity has been stunted and my drive is more aptly described as stuck in neutral. Technically speaking, I shouldn’t be complaining. I wake up with a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator. I have a job that pays for my utilities and the clothes on my back. And most importantly, especially in 2020, I have my health. So, I really shouldn’t be crabby…right?
If you’ve been feeling like me, cut yourself a break because there is a legitimate reason; we are “travelsick”. No, this does not mean you get nauseous when you ride in the backseat of the car. It’s the opposite of homesick – the longing for travel, seeing new places, and connection when you’ve been stuck in one place for too long.
“Travelsick: the longing for travel, new places, and human connection when you’ve been stuck in one place too long.”
Ok…yes, I made the term up, but it should be added to the dictionary and here’s why!
The truth is that we were never meant to live a quarantine life. And while this may be our reality today, our body is yearning for that nourishment of travel. I have spent hours scrolling through travel pictures and planning an epic vacation in my head. Daydreaming of crystal blue waters and sunsets over mountain horizons has been a way to escape the four walls I am stuck in. I was coming up with any excuse to travel and I realized I wasn’t alone when I invited a group of my friends to have an “All We Missed” vacation to celebrate every event that we couldn’t during the quarantine.
I thought I would have to convince everyone. I mean, it wasn’t a “real” reason to spend the money on an elaborate trip. It was completely made up. Usually, I have to twist arms to get people to commit or book, but this time people were chomping at the bit. I heard about everyone’s canceled trips and vacations they couldn’t risk booking earlier in the year. I could hear the relief in their voices that we were putting something on the books. Just the idea that they have a trip to look forward to is a dose of medicine to heal some of those travelsick symptoms.
You may think this is just the ramblings of someone suffering from severe wanderlust, but I assure you that science supports what I’m telling you.
We’ve all heard the medical term for it; cabin fever. We may not have put much stock into it, but this year has brought the truth of this psychological phenomenon into full view. Cabin fever happens when we are isolated or stuck in one place for too long. What we are all facing is a direct descendant of cabin fever. Our bodies and minds are not receiving the nourishment they need because we are not meant to live a sedentary life.
Our ancestors didn’t just set up shop and call it a day. No matter what land you hail from, your people were travelers. They explored and they “wanted” more. Wars have been fought over land because there is something inside of us that “wants” the world. It’s one of our inner drives. Now, most of us have outgrown the barbarianism of attempting to covet land when we travel, but that doesn’t mean that drive isn’t still there.
But as a modern society we have come up with unique ways of overcoming cabin fever. We are all still able to leave the house and drive to get our essentials. We are able to talk to loved ones via phone or video chats. So, this isn’t exactly isolation. So, why are we suffering symptoms of cabin fever?
Because this isn’t cabin fever; you’re travelsick. To understand the difference, you first need to understand the point of traveling.
Is there an actual point to travel? Perhaps this is a philosophical question for the ages but in my humble opinion, the desire to travel is the true answer to what makes us human.
On face value, travel is pointless. It doesn’t provide us shelter. It doesn’t provide us food or healthcare. And it definitely doesn’t fill our bank accounts. And yet when elderly people were asked what their biggest regrets were in life, one of the top ten answers was not traveling enough (lifehack.org).
If it doesn’t provide us with anything, why do we want it so badly? Instinct should tell us that travel is a waste of time and resources. But it doesn’t. Our humanity tells us that travel is a necessity.
There is no better way than travel to find human connection and humility. Discovering how small our own reality is compared to the world and the other cultures that live in it is mind boggling. More creativity and inspiration can be stemmed from the discovery of a new food that makes your taste buds dance or a sunrise that brings tears to your eyes. Overall, through travel you can find yourself; pushing through barriers that were holding you back, opening your mind to the endless possibilities of the world, and reminding you of your strength and resilience. These are things that travel brings to the table. These are the elements of life necessary for the fulfillment of the human experience. And travel offers them all to us in one serving.
As a human being, travel is nourishment. Being travelsick is your soul’s way of telling you that it is hungry. It’s time to heal. Leave to the Colorado River snaking through the Grand Canyon or to the cobblestone villages overflowing with tulips in Holland. Once you know you’re going, the healing begins and the travelsickness will begin to fade. Your boss may not buy it as a valid excuse for sick leave, but leave is exactly what you need.
By Amanda Walsmith