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The Traveler's Dilemma


This post is for all of you who yearn to travel, have traveled, or are “nomads.” I offer you a perspective to consider, if not something to open up your mind to what this “travel lifestyle” is under the surface of all the glitz and glamor social media puts out.

I’ve been a “nomad” on and off for the last five years. By nomad I mean I traveled a lot, with my husband and dog, for the sake of doing something new. We’d either visit a place for a short time, or we’d stay long term in a new area of the country for two months or more. Occasionally we came home, but it was never for long. Over the last five years, we’ve lived long term in Wisconsin, British Columbia, Oregon, and Arizona. Short term - San Diego, Northern California, Vermont, Ireland, Colorado, New Mexico, and so many more places I just can’t remember right now. On the surface, it looks fun! It looks adventurous, but in every adventure story comes the underlying drama of it all. Why were we actually doing this? Was it for the sake of just traveling, or were we running away from something?

If I’m going to be honest, I’ve felt a void in my soul. Traveling somewhere new was only a temporary fix for me, and a few days upon return I’d feel that void. For awhile I’d ask myself, “what’s wrong with me?” and then I realized it wasn’t me… it was what I was missing from my life. I also realized that traveling was the easy way out. The way to escape the pain of attachment, as well as conflict with the humans that were closest to me in my life. Traveling was a great excuse to escape these inner dilemmas, leaving to “explore something new for awhile,” which was great and all, until I realized it was never good to run away from these feelings - they always travel with you.

The life of a nomad is a lonely one. Sure, you have friends on social media, other transient folks who seem not to mind the isolation of a travel lifestyle, but what about the people you care about? The people back home that you grew up with, family, friends. You miss holidays, birthdays, special milestones for these people, and sometimes even deaths. Twice while we were away, important people in our lives passed away and we weren’t there to be with them before they died - or even with our families when they passed. You can make friends while traveling, but for me at least, they don’t last very long and aren’t deep and meaningful relationships. Over the past several years, the closest relationship I’ve had has been with Austin, and though I love him very much and he keeps me good company, I still feel lonely and isolated. I feel this is a reason why some days I feel like I’m in the deep depths of despair, because I’d love to be with people but there wasn’t anyone there, no matter how many social events I went to.

Humans are social creatures, we need each other to survive. We need deep and meaningful relationships to steer us away from depression and anxiety and to feel oneness. This ties into community as well; we can connect with others outside of our close circle of relationships and be a part of a community, whether that is where we live, a sports or gardening group, or being a part of something bigger than ourselves.

That brings me to my next point. When you’re a nomad, what do you do for work? Is it meaningful? I notice for myself and my needs, I cannot find meaningful work while traveling on the road. My soul has a specific thing it craves, and that requires being grounded somewhere making meaningful relationships and connecting with the land to nurture it. Though in every place I’ve lived I’ve been able to garden, I haven’t felt this deep connection I yearn. Many nomads can find meaningful work while traveling and that’s so great! With the rise of internet based services and being able to create art digitally and then use services like print on demand to make a living, it can definitely work for some people. I’ve been working on this, though noticed it isn’t as fulfilling as direct contact with the people I’m providing a service for.

Traveling gives one a sense of unboundedness. With unboundedness and non attachment, it sort of makes life feel less… full. While traveling gives a wide perspective of the world at large, and a sense of wonder all the time if you can move about freely - there is one thing it cannot give you and that is being grounded somewhere and connecting with a small area for a long period of time. For instance, let’s think about some of our ancestors here. I recently learned that my ancestors moved to Wisconsin in 1848 from Germany and farmed the same land for many generations, able to connect with the land and develop a deep relationship with it. There’s magic in this, forming deep connections with the land around you, not to mention the people who live in your community. After traveling and moving so often, my soul decided it’s time to settle somewhere.

These are just some of my takeaways of traveling the last five years. I will admit, and be totally honest when I say that I’ve had some memorable, full, and fun experiences. Do I regret traveling for the past 5 years? Absolutely not! I’m so glad I did it and got it out of my system. I’m so glad I gave myself permission to do this, to live like a free spirit and to flow with the wind. I’m so glad I did this so I can move forward in my life, this brand new chapter without regrets or “what ifs?” when it comes to traveling and living in different places & climates in our country. This experience of traveling in the way I did, and many other nomads, van lifers, RV dwellers do - can be different for everyone, and I suppose I needed to get this out for anyone yearning to travel and for myself too… We recently moved back to Wisconsin and are so happy to be at home, in a familiar place, with plans to stay for a long time. Life is not about the destination, rather the journey to get there, and I’d much rather be happy in my own home than scared out on the road.

I hope this helps you some how!

Love,

Ashley


P.S. - My new book is still available! Here's where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Across-Guided-Journal-Ponderings/dp/1734212101/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=the+adventures+across+guided+journal&qid=1585357853&sr=8-2


P.P.S. - I also have new t-shirt designs on my Etsy shop! https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdventuresAcross?section_id=27031062

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