Once upon a time, you’d stay up late at night before your flight.
Heart pounding, feet restless, mind racing, you’d pace your bedroom floor running through all the adventures you were about to embark on.
You’d run through every list of all the things you should bring twice: passport, journal, money that’d you’d changed at the best exchange rate you could find, addresses for sending postcards, a printed itinerary of all the sights you would soon behold and several copies of your passport.
The morning would come and with the sun, you’d rise after a sleepless night. No matter how hungry you might be, you could never sit still long enough to eat; the butterflies in your stomach too busy to allow space for food anyway. Every single time, you’d be like a child excitedly anticipating her first day at school, or a potential employee getting ready for an interview you knew you were going to ace.
What would you say? Who would you meet? Were you ready for the world and more importantly, was the world ready for you?
These pre-travel jitters might have come upon you the night before a well-planned vacation. They could well have made their first appearance weeks in advance. In fact, your countdown may have lasted longer than the trip itself. And even as you’d get set to leave, you were already pre-nostalgic for the adventure you haven’t even begun yet. The start of a trip tells you one thing for sure: it would also at some point have to end.
After all this excitement, how can one bear for it all to be over?
CHASING THAT FIRST HIGH
But now you’ve graduated. You sleep soundly before your flight, you eat right, bring appropriate snacks, wear the right shoes and you have all you need: passport, credit card, mobile phone, tablet or laptop, book or Kindle.
You’re cool. You’re all set. Anything you might have forgotten (which of course you haven’t, you wily traveller, you) can be quite easily acquired along the way.
Look at me now, you might think. I’m the coolest kid in world-traveller class. I do what I want, I travel light and I’m too cool to care about pre-planning. Remember when you used to save every boarding pass as a souvenir?
Still, part of you fondly remembers the forgotten days of anxious packing and triple checking. For the seasoned traveller, maybe you’re always chasing that first high. Experienced as you’ve become over the years, there’s something about the youthful naiveté of your early traveller’s life, remarkable in a way that never comes round again. You’ll never be as anxious; you’ll also never be as straight up excited.
You get so good at travelling you forget that first brand-new feeling of fun and the embracing of the unknown.
NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH
There can only be once that you see a staggering cliff for the first time, or cast your eyes over an especially blue ocean, or contemplate some of the world’s highest peaks. You only get one first time in the old town of a European city, one first time to attend a play in a historic theatre.
And eventually, the rush ebbs away. Stunning mountains are stunning mountains, and charming old streets are charming old streets. They don’t lose their wonders, but you sure can lose your virgin excitement.
Here’s something to remember: just because they aren’t new to you doesn’t make them worth any less of your attention. Like many things, it gets better over time.
With that brand-new feeling out of the way, you’re now free to go forth and experience all the details you missed with your eyes glazed over in joy. Now you can calmly and rationally take in all the sights you have surrounded yourself with. You’re done with the fun of casual dating. You’re ready for a long-term commitment to travel, and the joy in its familiarity and sameness.
You’re not dressing up for a fancy night out, you’re settling in for a long weekend of Netflix and chilling. It’s now time to sit down with a glass of wine and read a book in a new city instead of checking of top sights in your guidebook.
EMBRACE THE GOOD
So maybe you’ll never perceive the world through the fresh eyes of an inexperienced wanderer again, and there is surely some sadness due there. Gone are the days where you’re bouncing off the walls in anticipation of your next adventure, and maybe you miss how thrilled you were at the sight of stunning scenery and endless mountains or deserts. You have accepted that strange and new things are just a part of your life now. That’s just how it is.
Also absent are the days where you’re pre-sad about the end of your next adventure, and it is here that you can find your good place.
You’ve now swapped early-day excitement for a lifelong series of adventures. You know there’s no point getting sad about completed travels; the next trip is never far away. Perhaps you’ve found adventure in the everyday.
EMBRACE THE FAMILIAR
So now you’re trotting off into the world, looking at all the sights around you with seasoned eyes, more points of reference and a far greater appreciation for the finer details. You’re not fussed about doing all the things they say you can’t miss, from rooftop bars to Michelin stars – you’re just as happy wandering through a quiet street, checking out the local bakery, exploring an old museum or watching the people who call this place home.
Maybe first times are overrated; now you get to travel on at your own pace, in your own style, finding a quieter – and in my opinion better – kind of excitement that never fades away.