I have a confession to make: I am a very timid traveller. I love arriving in new places, exploring different cultures and seeing the world. But I find the actual travel part – the getting from A to B – incredibly challenging. I am afraid of the literal sense of the word: to ‘make a journey, typically of some length’.
I am particularly afraid of flying. In the weeks leading up to a big trip, I usually have vivid, recurring nightmares about plane crashes. I struggle to sleep during flights because I am constantly on high-alert for any signs of turbulence or distress. I irrationally believe that if I am awake, I will be able to attempt to ‘save myself’ should the plane start plummeting towards the ground. I refuse to take sleeping pills because I want to be focused should I need to go into survival mode. Fear clouds my judgement and I find it nearly impossible to relax.
However, this anxiety doesn’t only grip me on long-haul flights. I experience it in some shape or form whenever I leave home. I have felt it in cars and on trains. It doesn’t matter whether I am travelling for 1 hour or 12 hours, being away from home always consumes a lot of my energy and a certain amount of courage.
This anxiety represents one of the great contrasts of my personality – I both love and fear travel. I am a homebody who has incurable wanderlust. On the one hand, I want to remain in one place, on the other hand, I crave adventure. It was out of this very contradiction that I created Mind Nomad.
“Mind Nomad is the product of conflicting desires; opposite sides of a spectrum seeking collision. Mind Nomad is a compromise between my incurable wanderlust and my innate need to call one place home.”
My blog is one of the ways I keep my inner traveller alive when I am at home. I use this blog as a platform to share my discoveries about the world, so that I continue to explore new perspectives even when I am not abroad.
I don’t talk about my anxiety to travel often, because like most anxieties, it feels a little embarrassing and silly. But both of these #BlogGreatness topics – ‘Favourite part of NZ’ and ‘Contrast’ got me thinking about my relationship to both home and travel.
For me home – and my favourite place in New Zealand – is the Devonport-Takapuna peninsula in Auckland. This is where I grew up. We moved house many times when I was young, but we never left the ‘bubble’ as it is affectionately known by locals. This part of Auckland is truly beautiful – being a peninsula, there are many gorgeous beaches and I never go a day without seeing the water.
While I’m sure its beauty plays a part in my attachment to the area, I believe I keep returning home because it offers something hard to find abroad: familiarity.
The desire to be in familiar territory seems to go against the essence of what it means to be a ‘true traveller’. I have always viewed my anxiety to travel away from home as a massive inconvenience, something that holds me back from being a full-time adventurer.
But perhaps there is something to be said for the familiar; if I crave it on such a primal, unrelenting level, then how can it be to my detriment?
Now that I have made a few trips abroad – and lived overseas twice – I am beginning to realise that having such a deep fondness and connection for home doesn’t show signs of weakness. Rather, I am incredibly blessed to have grown up in a place so safe and appealing. There are many displaced people in this world who do not have the option of ‘going home’. I am one of the lucky ones.
I have also realised that home is where I retreat to recharge, to gather my thoughts and reflect on the places I have seen and where I want to go next. Perhaps as I get older I will adapt better to a more nomadic lifestyle, but for now, having a place to call home feels essential for my health and happiness.
And although I call myself a ‘timid traveller’, I know it is better to be timid than to not travel at all. I “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Home would be nothing but an abstract notion if I never left it.
Since returning home from London around ten months ago, I can feel the travel bug beginning to bite again. I have had time to rest, recuperate and reflect on my last stint overseas, and although parts were difficult, I know that ultimately travel is one of the best ways to learn about the world.
And the more I travel, the better I get at it. Perhaps I’ve learned that, for now, I don’t wish to live permanently overseas. Maybe I am more suited to short, spectacular stints abroad, knowing I can return home to recharge before the next adventure.
As I sit here and write this, at home, with a steaming cup of chai tea, I know I’ll always crave a balance between travel and the familiar. I know my desire to ‘tend to the land’ and stay in one place will always be in contrast with my desire to travel the world. But I’m okay with that.
I am incredibly fortunate that my current circumstance allows me to indulge both of these desires; the embarking on new adventures and then returning home. So long as I continue to strike the right balance, between enjoying the serenity of home and pushing through my comfort zone, then I think I can live with a little bit of contrast.