So here’s the story: I just arrived in the UK a few days ago, my first real trip abroad this year. Already having felt a bit overwhelmed with work and social activities, I wasn’t feeling too organised either.
Despite my usual habits, I only packed my bags two or three hours before I had to leave for the airport. Those of you who know me, will know that I love to be organized when it comes to traveling. I love to have my affairs in order way before I have to leave. It’s not a thing of being anxious when it comes to traveling, it’s more that I enjoy the excitement of an upcoming trip so much that I find utmost joy in writing packing lists, raiding travel guides and buying all the bare necessities.
And being someone who usually hops onto a plane 5-6 times a year at least, I’ve become really good at it. I can literally organize a trip to the other side of the world in the blink of an eye.
Having started my first real corporate job this year, I feel like I kind of lost this ability. It’s already the middle of the year and I have only done two tiny trips to the Netherlands and Dresden. No plane, no other continent, no nothing.
So going on this trip actually turned out to be exciting for me. And how did I find out that I didn’t travel enough this year yet? When I arrived at my friend’s house in Cardiff, I nonchalantly wanted to plug in my computer but realized that I didn’t take an adapter. Having lived here for a year, you assume that I know that. To be honest, I didn’t even consider bringing an adapter once. It wasn’t on my well-thought out packing list or in my suitcase.
That’s how badly I need to travel again. Luckily, there are a few adventures coming up – either only on my agenda or already planned and booked.
A beat-up old car, a few dollars in the pocket, and a sense of adventure. That’s all Tony and Maureen Wheeler needed for the trip of a lifetime. They met on a park bench in Regent’s Park, London and married a year later. For their honeymoon, they decided to attempt what few people thought possible – crossing Europe and Asia overland, all the way to Australia. It was too amazing an experience to keep to themselves. Urged by their friends, they stayed up nights at their kitchen table writing, typing and stapling together their first travel guide.
Now, years later, I am holding a compilation of their travel guides in my hands: Lonely Planet The World. A guide for the truly travel addicted, the ones with itchy feet and those that just can’t get enough of roaming the world. Tasting the world’s flavours, admiring nature’s wonders and feeling best at peace when they are surrounded by likeminded people from all over the world.
The guide consists of 221 country pages, 228 maps, 700 images and 1595. Whenever wanderlust gets too painful, I pick up the book from my shelfs and rifle through the colourful pages hiding adventures and limitless stories from faraway places. If you don’t know where you’re heading next, the guide has got your back. Just randomly open a page and find yourself admiring the celestial kaleidoscope of the Northern Lights in Iceland or Estonia’s thick forests, rolling hills, picturesque villages, sparkling lakes and meandering rivers.
So there’s a book that’s called “Die Ländersammlerin”, written by Nina Sedano, a woman that says she is the most well traveled woman in Germany, she literally collects countries.
It’s almost been a year since I got this book and today I would like to share an excerpt of the book’s prologue with you as there is no text that has ever captured my thoughts and my true essence as much as this. Nina Sedano seems married to her adventures just as I am and her hunger for the unknown seems just as boundless as mine. So here it goes:
It all starts with a prologue and a woman without roots.
It is September 30th, 2011. I am 45 years, 7 months and 11 days old and I made it – finally!
I have reached my personal goal, the one that I set myself only five years ago : I have traveled to all 193 countries recognized by the United Nations. I didn’t ever doubt myself or my enormous willpower but I expected to somehow fail because of the entry requirements of some countries. Just now I am coming back from Turkmenistan, the last country on my long list.
[…] I want to travel, explore the world, experience everything myself, smell, taste and hear, enlargen my horizon, dive deep into new cultures and try to understand the people around me. Whenever I travel I know no solitude. Being homesick is also a foreign feeling to me. At home, surrounded by my oh-so familiar four walls I experience cabin fever and the urge to wander.
Why do I feel this need to go and visit all countries on our planet? Why doesn’t it suffice to read about traveling, watch documentaries about faraway places? The typical 30 day annual leave you get as an office worker will never be enough for me even though I often manage to stretch them out to 80 days and try to relish those few days as much as possible. […]
My willingness to leave everything behind and travel the world evokes different feelings in the people around me. There are some that even go as far as saying that I am fleeing from something – myself and my problems. I am definitely not trying to run away from myself, I would never be fast enough. I rather try to escape people that do not fathom my adventurous spirit, name me a gadabout and regard me as a failure for being 36 years old and quitting my job. I always have my goals in sight, in the world and in my life so their opinions are a strange concept to me.
On my journey I have learned that every country is different just as every human on this planet is different. It is essential to me to talk to these people from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds. To laugh with them, listen to them. I also truly need my friends and family back home that do not begrudge my lifestyle.
Until today, I have crossed many borders. And by that I do not mean only those borders that wrap around countries. Living this life I also challenge my emotional and physical limits. Those experiences are the ones that count the most and enrich my soul every day.
Traveling is my elixir whenever life gets tough. Being on the road all over the world I feel alive with every threat of my soul and every bone of my body. I feel that I am alive and not only exist. You have to make the best of the most tricky and dodgy situations, conform with local customs and practices, use foreign tongues to talk to foreign people, ask them for advice, trust them and myself and take everything with a little sense of humour.
A journey into the world is always a journey to yourself.
I have to say that I often need a little time until I get used to a book and its author. But Nina Sedano really captured my attention with the first words she wrote. In the course of the book she explains how she first traveled to a foreign country as a child and then eventually decides to travel the world. A definite must read!
This will be just a quick note. But it does mean a lot to me. Recently, fate seems to be ruling my existence. As Steve Jobs once said, I am true believer of the concept of connecting the dots looking backwards. Sometimes you don’t know what will happen but you just have to trust your instincts, be intrepid and leap – more or less defy gravity.
More and more I seem to be making decisions guided by me listening to my gut. More or less always inexplicable and non-understandable by my loved ones – turning down a perfectly fine job offer, chasing the dream of living and working in faraway places or traveling whilst I should rather stay home for numerous reasons.
But then there are these people that believe in you just the same way as you do yourself. And they not only believe in you but they support you with their whole being. Or even fuel your recklessness and adventurous spirit.
For now, fate has sent me to Japan. A two-week trip exploring Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo. And who would I be to turn down such a precious opportunity to chase my bliss?!
We are the reckless,
We are the wild youth
Chasing visions of our futures.
One day we’ll reveal the truth
That one will die before he gets there.
Does this sound familiar to you? I guess sometimes we just don’t want to admit that we are on a constant journey to seek ultimate happiness. But what does this ultimate bliss entail? We come across thoughts in our minds that are dedicated to dreaming of this better future. My generation is born with this feeling. We were born into an era of open doors – this made us become high achievers, always urging for more.
This is how I feel every day. I can’t seem to settle in just yet, I am always in the search of this place of ultimate happiness. But does it really exist? I am not going to stop moving, I know that. But what I am trying to tell you is this: let’s not always look for this future, these “other” places where life seems to be so much better. I want to live in the here and now and relish every second of it. I feel blessed of being able to live this lifestyle of endless travels and journeys, of meeting new people and admiring the world’s beauty.