What’s Behind the Travel Itch?

Loads of people get that itchy feeling, a bug if you will, that prompts them to want to see new things, experience new places, and enjoy traveling around the world.  There’s a tightness to the body as you look for trips or a longing as you peruse the latest catalog that was sent to you because you signed up for the world’s most expensive travel catalog (how was I to know).  As the catalogs come in you throw them in the trash so they don’t taunt you…or your bank account.  But it’s there now, like poison ivy and it itches.

The let down after a trip is real.  Why can’t we go back?  Or better yet…let’s move there.  The reality is that this is not a Hallmark movie and there’s something we are trying to capture by traveling.

Now, it also depends on your age as well I think, but for most people who have lived their entire lives in one place, I think there’s a feeling of the never-ending summer that travel brings to us. There’s also a feeling of “being done” with where you live now.  A longing, if you will, to experience something new.

At 15 years old, Spain was a mystery to me.  Could I get around a country with my limited Spanish (yes)?  There was a deep age to the country that I had not experienced before and it got in my bones. I remember the first time I stepped foot in a cathedral in Toledo.  It was breathtaking and fascinating to see the tombs of ancient royalty there.  Out of all the places, I think the smallest and most impressionable memory was that cathedral.  I heard the mass being spoken in Spanish and felt hundreds of years of worship dance over my skin.

In my 20’s, I went to England.  It was beautiful and scary at the same time.  In London the streets were dirty and I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I was with my college group as we explored Children’s Literature in London and I tried to fit in everything I could at the time.  And my credit card knew that.  The Jack the Ripper tour at night was amazing, and of course, there were pubs.  Ah pubs.  But anyway, I discovered a love for the countryside that shocked me.  I literally felt like I was coming home (and technically, I was).  My fondest memory is actually this old photo << it’s in this link you can read later, but I stepped foot in the home of C.S. Lewis, and saw where he was laid to rest at a tiny church near his home.  It’s like a shiver you get when you realize you are actually next to greatness…and the feeling still lingers.

When I was asked to speak in London 20 years later, ah, and go by myself, that was also another test.  I loved getting around London on the tube and was surprised at how easy it was to pick back up there.  Things had changed, there were definitely more buildings, but it was a different feeling this time.  A feeling of satisfaction and knowing that wasn’t there before.

Planning the trip to Ireland, and taking our girls, well, that was a different thing altogether.  I wanted to show them the world and I wanted to start off somewhere my husband and I had dreamed about going for 20 years.  The feeling there was different, because I was showing my girls what travel could be like outside of the country.  I also wanted them to understand that not everyone lived in the same way, in the same manner and that as we travel, it is important to be respectful of another culture.  Especially in Northern Ireland where you can still feel loads of political energy and I wanted my girls to understand that when I was younger, no one dared travel to that part.

Sometimes we listen to music and we don’t actually know what the song is about, but now my girls know what happened in Derry and why U2 wrote a song as we stood there and looked at the memorial for Sunday Bloody Sunday.  We read the history books about wars, kings, queens, politics, castles, ruins, and people who were there long before us and I have to say that part of the feeling that is missing, part of that search when traveling, is actually connection.  Connection to other people, other times, places, and a knowing that we really aren’t as alone as we feel during this digital age and in order to truly let the past “sink” in, we have to see it for ourselves.

How to foster that connection at home.

  • Travel to historical sites near your home.
  • Have a cultural day or explore other cultures in your area.
  • Talk to people who live in your area about what it was like for them coming to a new country.

The truth is, there’s loads behind the travel itch, and once you get it, you might just have it for life.  If you have not traveled somewhere new, go ahead and map out a plan to make it happen.  Don’t wait if you can, because you will experience a connection that feels old, magical and like it’s been there all along.  That’s probably the itch coming to life. 


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