The very first email I read this morning was a notification of a new post from Lola Akinmade-Akerstrom’s Geotraveler’s niche where she wrote on ”the transition we travelers rarely talk about” and for some reasons it resonates deeply with me
Why do you love to travel? Is it the constant movement? The excitement of landing somewhere new? Reading signs you don’t understand in a foreign language? Interacting with locals whom you’d never interact with back home? Getting beneath a culture? Never letting an opportunity to travel for free pass by? Checking items off your bucket list? Living life to the fullest under the YOLO* mantra?
All of the above?
We all have our reasons for exploring this earth and its farthest corners and they’re all valid reasons in their own ways. Yet, I’ve noticed that this thing, this existential space called travel we all seem to love so much can also feel like an entrapment. A way of escaping and running away from it all. A way of finding one’s self. Of being nomadic. A way of finally finding one’s “true” home.
I’ve read posts after posts about how travel has been this cathartic process of discovery. It has been for me in many ways as well. But it wasn’t until years ago when I started identifying the “Why?” in my travels did I fully realize a couple things and start to carve out a specific lifestyle…
I cornered a friend of mine during a conference in Helsinki, Finland. He’s a well-known blogger and successful entrepreneur who has spearheaded some amazing travel campaigns. We had an invigorating conversation that got me thinking and brimming with some ideas. Then I posed a question to him. “What about the in-betweens?” He knew exactly what I was talking about right away.
He understood. We’d both had babies around the same time. And we both have outstanding spouses who step in when we need to travel without babies. Usually me having to leave mine behind more so than him because he has a wife who takes care of their baby when he’s off. There was no space for in-betweens, he said. Not right now.
I get it. I too used to be an in-between who dragged my daughter to over a dozen countries before she turned two.
So what about those in-betweens?
The creatives who want both – a life of constant travel and to start a family. The ones with the young families. The photographer who wants to travel on exciting assignments but also wants to start their own family and not feel like they have to choose a perceived prestigious career over that natural desire.
Those in-betweens who haven’t taken a break since having their babies for fear of missing out, losing followers, and not feeling as relevant as before.
There are established travel bloggers (solo and couples) and there are established family travel bloggers. What about those with very young children? Infants?
What happens to the in-betweens during their transitions and why do they feel the need to cater to the world instead of taking adequate time off to cater to the most important person in their lives at the moment?
But to travel is not the lifestyle in and of itself for me. When I met David Miller in late 2006 who mentored me through my early travel writing process, it was then I truly got clued into actually writing about place as opposed to just writing about my travels. Physically writing about place myself and not just reading about it in travel narratives and books.
Place is key.
Exploring place is just one part of my “Why?” Writing about place – no matter where you are is what it’s about for me. Whether I’m in Nigeria, the Balkans, Lapland, Peru, off to the Seychelles, or sitting at home in Stockholm, that innate curiosity is what gets me digging deeper into a place.
In other words, redirecting those energies into my own backyard when I can’t direct them outwards.
So keeping that same curiosity about place can help the in-betweens during their transitions before they feel they can head out again.
Or better yet, making it about place can help you carve that exploratory lifestyle that keeps you invigorated, excited and curious like you were leaving on a jet plane to Indonesia in the morning when in fact you’re just heading out to brunch at a new local eatery.
There’s a super thin line between the freedom to be ourselves living out our dreams to the fullest and just being self-involved and frankly, selfish.
So to all the in-betweens, I want you to know that I get it. I understand how you’re feeling. I was once there. Like moving from place to place and country to country, it’s only a transient feeling. That time too will pass.
In the meantime, why not consider writing about place? Your backyard? Redirecting those energies to your right now? To living in the moment?
To being present in your life instead of wanting to be some place else?
We will all be here waiting for you and will respect you even more for putting the most important people in your lives first.
You know what this means for me? I can pack my bag and baggage and travel the world without worrying so much about ”the in- betweens”. It means I can take a break when I decide to raise a family and no one would hold me accountable instead they would wait and respect me even more for putting the most important people in my life first.