I am currently experiencing travel envy.
It’s the middle of February in Winnipeg, Canada (famous for occasionally being, among other things, colder than Mars). My husband is one month in to a three-month research trip in Greece. I’m in saving mode. My next ‘real trip’ isn’t for a couple months.
Just reading that gives me the worst cabin fever! What traveller (or wannabe traveller) isn’t familiar with that terrible feeling of wanderlust and FOMO?
I used to think I had it bad. I spent an ungodly amount of time in university, and all those starving student years bred envy for anyone who had taken any other path, especially paths that led to money and travel options. I wasn’t able to travel back then, or at least, I chose not to prioritize it over getting my education and moving into an apartment. I only really started to be able to focus on and prioritize travel within the past few years, so I honestly thought I had seen the worst of my travel envy days.
Little did I know that travelling more was only to lead to more serious envy anytime it wasn’t me hopping on a plane (and yes, I acknowledge that this is a very privileged position to be in in the first place). Now that I’ve been lucky enough to travel, it only serves as a reminder of how much fun my friend who’s about to spend a month in New Zealand is going to have . The age of Instagram has only made it more difficult to keep those feelings contained, as you’re continually bombarded with images of your friends and all kinds of beautiful strangers in wonderful exotic places that simply must be better than wherever you happen to be.
So ends the ‘whining’ portion of the program. The better question is: what can I do about it?
If you ask me, there isn’t anything short of catching the next flight that will actually cure travel envy. But there are a few things that I tend to do when the green monster gets to be a little too much for me. First and foremost is stepping away from social media. While the main reason my Instagram feed is predominantly travel photographers is because they serve as great inspiration and motivation, sometimes it can just be a little too much. It becomes pretty counterproductive if all I’m thinking as I scroll through my feed is the comparative crappiness of my own life.
I’ve taken to reading travelogues, like those written by Patrick Leigh Fermor or Bill Bryson (a decent list of others can be found here). These feel more far removed than a blog or photo album, things that can make the envy worse. I can’t really explain why, but rather than stirring envious feelings, these travelogues tend to inspire me to think of travel differently. Instead of feeling worse, I’m transported along with the author as they wander through pre-World War II Germany or challenge themselves to hike the Appalachian trail. For me, reading these travelogues is escapism at its best. In a weird way, it’s sort of like scratching an itch. It doesn’t always get rid of the underlying problem, but it still feels good.
It also helps to have something to look forward to. If I’m lucky, maybe that’s my next trip; even if it’s months away, having a trip booked gives me something to plan for, to read about, to focus on. I do little things like change my computer’s desktop image to wherever I’m going or order the latest Lonely Planet on my destination. When I feel the envy coming on strong, I do research into my next destination. If a next trip is too far away to be helpful, I try to have an adventure closer to home. A little microadventure can be just what the doctor ordered.
None if it cures the envy completely, but every little bit helps. For now, maybe I’ll devote some time to editing some of my own travel photos and reminisce over fond memories (although it may backfire)!
Do you have any tips or tricks for dealing with travel envy?