I’ve talked about numerous reasons why I enjoy being an expat: the challenging new experiences, meeting interesting people from around the world, trying new and different foods, but there’s really only one reason why I agreed to embark on the expat adventure — I’m a travel junkie.
Travel is my drug. When the craving hits, nothing can stop it but another journey.
I read guide books cover to cover. I am obsessed with maps. I love reading about other people’s travel experiences. But none of these things help stop my travel cravings.
Flipping through a travel magazine can make my stomach flutter and give me the shakes. My breathing accelerates while talking to fellow travelers about their journeys. I’ve wasted entire gloomy winter weekends glued to the Travel Channel. And the internet – well, that’s a travel junkie’s paradise.
Each time I get a travel fix, I think: “There, that should stop the craving for a while”. I think I can go home and be content to stay there for at least a few months. But I’m always wrong. Each trip only makes the craving stronger and I need the next fix faster.
Like most travel junkies, I have a list. This list includes all of the destinations I’d like to visit. My list is mental. I fear that if I commit it to paper, I will never stop writing.
There are few places I’ve actually crossed off my list — not because I haven’t traveled to them, but because I usually always want to go back for a second look.
I almost feel that visiting somewhere for the second time is better than the first. When you visit a destination for the first time, there are things you are expected to do.
For example; the first trip to Paris usually includes the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Seine, and the Champs d’Elysées. But once these things have been checked off the ‘to do’ list, you can be free to wander and explore at your leisure.
Of course, it’s nice to see the main attractions; there’s a reason why they’re famous after all. But it’s the unexpected little discoveries that I revel in … be it a tiny boutique, a cozy café, or a striking view.
These are the things that I feel are unique to my experience of a place — and what makes my experience unique. These are what make me long to travel.
Not only does my list not shrink when I go somewhere new, it usually grows. I’m constantly learning about new places to visit; be it a waitress telling us about her hometown, or a beautiful village we pass through on the way to somewhere else — the list has a life of its own.
Living in Brussels has only made my addiction stronger. Now I am only a day’s drive or a cheap flight away from so many new destinations (and an ever growing list of places to go back to for the second time).
If travel is both my sickness and my cure, will I ever be cured of my affliction? I certainly hope not.