How travel messed me up

I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately, and can’t seem to pin down exactly why. It might be because I don’t know where I’m going to live next year (Sydney or Tokyo). It might be because this is the first time in a long time that I haven’t got another trip booked and don’t know when I can go away again. It might be because I’m graduating soon and increasingly feel dissatisfied with the structure and routine of a job and just want to focus on doing the things I love. I’ve never been the kind of person that’s able to put up with things I dislike.

KL - NRT on Air Asia plane
KL – NRT on Air Asia plane

Since February 2014, I’ve been traveling constantly, about every couple of months. Because of my impending graduation and the necessity of finding a full time job, I have no idea when I can go away again, but it’s likely it won’t be anytime soon. I knew about this for a long time and was expecting to have a bad post holiday depression, but instead I didn’t get that. My worst post holiday depression was after I came home from Japan in 2014, and I was expecting something much worse than that, but instead there was nothing. Instead, I felt kind of numb to the things around me, as if I didn’t care what happened. I also felt restless, like I wanted to do something but didn’t know what. A ridiculous thing I’ve started doing in my spare time now is looking up the prices of plane tickets while knowing I’m not going to buy them.

For a long time now, I’ve really been trying hard to pin down what it is about travel that I love so much. This quote kind of sums up how I feel travel changed me.

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, even breaks your heart. But that’s okay.

The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body.

You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

Anthony Bourdain

I have a whimsical nature and dislike dullness, monotony and routines. I like spontaneity. I think that one of the reasons travel appeals to me so much is because I love adventures. I love waking up in the morning knowing that absolutely anything could happen, that I’m not bound to routines and schedules, that I could make a new friend around the corner, have an adventure. I like the thrill of getting completely lost, and finding your own way again. Some people say that other people like traveling because it’s an escape. I don’t deny that. One of the reasons I love traveling is because I don’t have responsibilities. One of the best things about going away is that carefree feeling that comes from knowing you don’t have to do anything at all.

For a long time, I was fixated on moving to Japan. I talked about it every day, to everyone and anyone (I know everyone is probably sick of me talking about Japan). I told everyone I was moving there. I think the reason I fell in love with the country so much is because it was my first travel experience that was 100% perfect. After coming home from Japan last year, I was the worst I’d felt in a long time. I felt dazed when I went out, like I was walking around with my head in a cloud. I couldn’t concentrate on anything anymore and my marks dropped. All I could think about was going back, and eventually living there someday, maybe even permanently.

Like the Anthony Bourdain quote, I felt that my travels had really messed me up on the inside. It sounds like a drastic overexaggeration that something as trivial as a holiday could mess someone up like that, but that was really how I felt. I was happy before I left, but after coming back, I wasn’t content with my life anymore. I hated walking around in my hometown, feeling like an alien, like I didn’t belong there. All I could think about from that point was getting away, and it didn’t matter where, as long as I wasn’t in Sydney.

After traveling to Japan three times in a year, I can still say that I really like it, and want to go back, but for a number of reasons, I decided that I might not move to Japan anymore.

I think that’s part of the reason why I feel so restless lately. I can’t decide if I want to be in Sydney or somewhere else next year. I’ve even been toying with the idea of moving to London or New York. The thing that scares me most is having regrets about things I should’ve done, but didn’t. Come 2016, I think the best thing for me to do is decide then and there in the moment what I feel like doing, and do it.

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