Endlessly changing horizons, stunning sunsets, divine beaches, bathing in crystal clear rivers and the simple pleasure of sleeping under a blanket of stars. It all sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? That’s the life of a wanderer and no doubt, it definitely is wonderful, but there’s a flipside to it. There comes a time when traveling becomes mundane and you get struck with boredom. What happens then?
Last week I was bathing in heavenly cascades of silvery water (which naturally counts as a shower when you’re on the road!), without seeming utterly excited about it, when a friend of mine, a first time long term traveler at the initial stage of his journey, turned to me and said: “This might be just another ordinary day to you, but to me it’s all new and exciting!” When you’ve been on the road for a long time, you slowly start to gain some sort of immunity against all the beautiful things you see. Last time I got that feeling was after spending close to a year in Asia. I remember my travel companions wanting to go see all these incredible temples, but just the thought of seeing another one was a stomach-churning scenario to me, so I would spend my day doing something as ordinary as reading a book in a nice cafe or renting a bike and drive around the local neighborhood at a snail’s pace. To slow it down was my reaction back then.
Just as the confinements of a conventional life with a 9-5 job, 3 weekly gym sessions and that long anticipated Friday night out becomes tedious, the same thing happens to life on the road, if you do it long enough. But there’s a remedy. What I’ve found works is to keep doing what I’m doing, but doing it with a new twist. It sounds simple, but so are the best advice in life, e.g.: “Never use your favorite song as an alarm” and “never make eye contact while eating a banana.” Complicated advice is useless! Let’s say you’ve been wandering for a year and mainly by bus. Why not try hitch-hiking? Or cooling down the pace by getting yourself a bike, soaking in your surroundings, while feeling the warm sun on your face and the wind blowing through your hair? When traveling goes from being a hobby to a lifestyle, it’s important to remember that you’re no longer part of the rat race. You have endless possibilities, but you’re the captain of your own ship, so it’s your responsibility to initiate a change of course, if needed.
In the end, everything we do in life becomes routine sooner or later, unless we pro-actively do something to renew, reinvent and nurture what we already have in the situation we’re currently in. So the idea to keep doing what you’re doing with a new twist, would apply to all facets of life. If you get bored with your job, convince your boss to give you more responsibility, if you get bored with your weekly fitness routine, load your workout with a variety of new exercises, if you get bored with your relationship, go on a date with your partner. Never stop dating your significant other, no matter how long you’ve been together! Seemingly small and simple changes can make a big difference, like taking a different route home from work. If you’re being pro-active, you’ll find yourself revitalized, but if you remain passive, you’ll be digging yourself a deep hole of futile troubles and worries. As Dalai Lama once said: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” So stop digging and start exploring all the options at hand to better your situation. Dedicate yourself to one and pursue it with the discipline and perseverance of a Shaolin Monk!
When I get struck by the discouraging feelings of boredom and routine while traveling, it’s a sign to me, that I need to do it differently. If I don’t, I start asking myself: What’s the point of it all? I reach a mental state of stagnation, feeling that I’m not going anywhere, even though, in a physical sense, that’s all I’m really doing, being constantly on the move. But what I want is to keep moving, body and mind, to keep learning, keep evolving and by just traveling in the same way all the time, I’m not. In our constant search for meaning in life, embracing change and realizing that it’s actually good and healthy for our wellbeing can lead us closer to happiness. Altering our way gives us a new perspective on life and motivates us to keep moving forward to wherever we are going. We don’t necessarily need to know where, as long as we are in motion, literally and figuratively speaking. With the abundance of things there are to explore, experience and learn in life, confining ourselves to a single page or chapter would be depriving ourselves of a wonderful, unique and wholesome story.
Now, after traveling with a group of 6 people for the past 6 weeks, which has been an absolute awesome experience in so many ways, it’s time for me to make a change. Time for me to seek solitude on the road again, to filter out all the noise that keeps me from listening to my inner voice, the only true guide in life. To unwind, slow down and cultivate gratitude towards all the positive, small things that happen every day, along with all the great wonders of the world. To be more with less. This will make space for new thoughts and ideas to flow freely and then I will know what needs to be done differently to rekindle the travel spirit inside of me. To once again, find the excitement of discovering new horizons, facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, connecting with new people, making new memories and creating new stories. Because that’s what traveling is all about.