I try to keep a cool adult demeanor as I open the tiny package at my seat. In it I find a pair of socks, a diminutive set with toothpaste and toothbrush, and a sleep-mask. I want to turn to the older gentleman in the plane seat next to mine as I pull out each item to show him with bright eyes and exclaim “Look how cute this toothbrush set is!” but I manage to keep my cool.
Wanderlust ; a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.
Wanderlust is my favorite word. Aside from being fun to say, it most aptly captures my enthusiastic desire to discover new places. The more I traveled, the more I learned about new places I’d love to see. Put me on an airplane and I am as giddy as a child. I love to travel, and it’s not just about the destination. The journey itself thrills me as well. That sense of excitement and adventure as a trip launches. The forced stretches of time on the trip to read, write, or watch as many movies as I can fit in. I love the diminutive compartments of the meals, accompanied by tiny bottles of wine. I enjoy conversations struck up with other travelers, slices of lives in transit. Where we are, where we are going, and where we’ve been. I’m excited by the anticipation of a new place, and of entering the unexpected.
As for the destination, the more foreign the culture or landscape, the more delighted I am. I enjoy seeing the world through the lens of a different culture. Not knowing my surroundings, often without knowledge of the local language, navigating the world in the way a child might before they fully understand all that is going on around them. These types of experiences have given me deep empathy for visitors to my own country when I encounter them. I think the world would be a kinder place if everyone understood what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land, vulnerable. World travel has been my greatest path of education and understanding.
One of the most important of those lessons I’ve learned is how important home is. I remember exactly the first time this registered. I was traveling alone in my early twenties and on a bus in Thailand. It was night and the windows of the shacks we passed glowed with the warmth of the families within. As the bus came to a stop in front of one of these shacks I could see in through the window, and felt strongly how fortunate the family was to be cozy in their home together. A sort of longing I hadn’t remembered ever feeling before.
I love travel as much as ever, but I can’t wait to see my family when I get back. There is nothing so sweet as that reunion, or precious as sleeping in our own bed with our family all under the same roof. My passion for the discoveries of travel is as strong as ever, but I love what I come home with even more. A few trinkets to remind me of where I’ve been, a new perspective, and always a deeper and greater appreciation for my home and family. No place in the world matches being immersed in that inner glow of family and home.