2017-05-18 / Top News

The reluctant traveler packs her bags, casts her anxieties aside


According to the smart people at Merriam Webster, the definition of wanderlust is “a strong desire to travel.”

And as we ease into travel season, I’m realizing more and more that I’m not only a homebody, I may even have a touch of agoraphobia.

I have friends who are traveling champs, and while I’m envious of their fortitude and I love seeing photos of their adventures on Facebook, I can’t think of anywhere more pleasant than my very own bed.

My photographer friend Mila is constantly going on jaunts — and by jaunts, I mean flying to places like Taiwan for lunch. Her dad was in the airline industry, so they get great deals on plane tickets that allow Mila to feed her wanderlust regularly. She doesn’t mind being on an airplane for 22 hours or sleeping in an airport if a flight is delayed, as long as it means that she gets to experience a magical place or culture. My friend Valerie is the same way. Her latest adventure was Sri Lanka. Paying $3 a day to sleep in what’s basically a hammock is, to Valerie, like having a suite at The Ritz-Carlton.

I love that I have friends who want to experience everything they can around this big, beautiful world. As we all know, we only go around once — and it can be a short ride.

I have another adventurous friend who has a plaque near her front door that reads: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” And just under that, she has a framed quote: “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.”

When I was in my 20s, I was besieged with wanderlust, but as a young single mom, I was also besieged with responsibility and a very empty wallet. When you grow up in a place — even a place as pretty as Southwest Florida — you dream of becoming an adult, getting out and seeing the world; or at least I did.

I dreamed of backpacking across Europe, hitchhiking to New York City, getting a job as a waitress in Amsterdam. I was fearless. But it never happened. And now that I have the time and the means to travel, I’ve lost the fearlessness, and the wanderlust has fizzled. Anxieties about flying, claustrophobia, getting lost or consuming bad drinking water hang like dark clouds over my dusty, unused luggage.

So (deep breath), as I write this, I’m experiencing about 36 hours at home between an amazing cultural and culinary tour of Havana, Cuba, before a weeklong trip to a remote cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Fear loses and wanderlust wins.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.” — Hans Christian Anderson

It’s time to live. ¦

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