Many expats have an undiagnosed condition, it is called Wanderlust. You won’t find Wanderlust in any psychiatric handbooks and there are no medication for it. It is a chronic state of being as many expats and digital nomads can attest to. Wanderlust is the strong longing or impulse to wander, travel or explore. These are the people who have an insatiable need to keep moving. And even when they grow tired of traveling and yearn for a simpler life where they can just be at “base camp” for a while, it doesn’t take long for the wanderlust bug to start biting again.
The Covid pandemic has been especially tough on these individuals. And although wanderlust is not a mental illness, the desire or craving is deeply embedded in an individual’s psyche. The fact that it doesn’t find any release can lead to serious mental illnesses such as depression. Drastic lockdowns and the pandemic have forced many to be stuck in one specific place or house. And many have experienced struggles with mental illness (some for the very first time), without even knowing where this originated from. We as expat therapists have found wanderlust to be the cause of many an expat and digital nomad’s mental demise.
So how does one know whether they have an insatiable case of the wanderlust? If you possess most of the characteristics in the following list the odds are pretty high:
You travel light
Most individuals with wanderlust are used to having to move . And they have long since realised that too much material possessions simply holds you down. For those undercover wanderlust sufferers it means that you pack one small suitcase instead of a bunch of luggage. In general people who travel light are the ones who doesn’t ask “But how do they do that?!” when people go traveling the world with only a backpack on their back.
Travel isn’t limited to holidays
Travelling and exploring to you doesn’t just refer to a holiday trip. You might have relocated to an entire new country, but you’re still going on weekend breakaways, day outings and even find yourself sneaking away to interesting places nearby during your lunch break. This is also the kind of behaviour that may keep some with wanderlust in check. They may have a normal office job and live in just one place, even have a mortgage, but they’ll get their wanderlust kicks in throughout the month and whenever they can steal some time to wander and explore.
You can budget like nobody’s business
If there’s one thing an avid traveller, expat or digital nomad can do best, it’s make their money stretch in ways that will leave most speechless. They are experts at sniffing out affordable and tasty streetfood stalls and markets. They manage to find accommodation for half the amount someone else budgets for at the same location. And they walk that one mile to the beach when most people will drive. Those with wanderlust aren’t stingy, they’re just money savvy. And this is what allows them to stay in locations for weeks or even months compared to those holiday travellers that can only afford a couple of days.
You’re extremely curious
You love hearing about new places and things. You enjoy listening to others travel tales. And you’re general knowledge regarding the world is pretty extensive. But your curiosity doesn’t just extend to an interest or being the one always getting invited to pub quizzes. No, you want to experience all these things yourself. You’re always making little mental notes of things you want to do or see. You might even have a bucket list that is constantly being updated. Those with wanderlust are curious people in every sense of the word.
You’re not easily phased or frazzled
Anybody who has ever travelled (or lived for that matter) will be able to tell you that life happens whilst you’re busy making other plans. Strange and challenging situations can be expected. You will be forced to change your plans, to adapt to new surroundings. Someone can drop you in the middle of the Japan underground system where there are little to no English signs and you’ll still manage to find your way. People with wanderlust are tenacious and they will find a solution to any problem or challenge a destination throws at them.
You can go it alone
Most expats, digital nomads and other individuals with wanderlust have the unique ability to be comfortable when socializing with strangers as well as spending days with only their own company. These are not the people who often asks “Do you want to come with me?” Their travels and adventures are not reliant on whether someone can come along with them.
You value experiences
No matter how big or small you live for experiences. It can be watching a sunset on a hilltop near hour house or ziplining through the amazon. If you’re not sure whether this is you, you simply need to take a look at your social media feeds and the photo gallery on your phone. If most consist of selfies or events with family and friends this might not be your wheelhouse. But if your social media feeds and gallery look like something from a travel magazine or the Discovery channel (crime documentaries excluded), then you might’ve been scratching that wanderlust itch for a long time without realising it.
As we’ve already mentioned suddenly finding yourself stuck when you’re an expat, digital nomad or just an individual with a bad case of the wanderlust, can cause extreme mental strain. That alone is enough reason to set an appointment with an expat therapist. The reason why it’s important to specifically look out for an expat therapist is because they understand your lifestyle and what you’re going through. Your expat therapist might even be a digital nomad themselves with many offering online therapy appointments. That means that you can get the high quality services of a professional expat therapist who will see you in the comfort of your own home (or beach or park or whatever else you may prefer) for an absolute fraction of the price due to no unnecessary office overheads – absolutely perfect for the budget conscious expat or digital nomad.
So whilst we recommend that you make that expat therapist appointment, we can still give you a few tips on how to “travel” during lockdown and other travel restrictions:
Read travel books.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an interesting book about a certain country or that big coffee table book filled with just photos. Any of them will get you “out” of the house a bit.
Meet up with like-minded people.
You are not the only person in this boat (or rather lack thereof). Although you probably can’t have a massive get-together with a group of people at the moment and we don’t recommend just meeting up with any stranger at your home, there are still ways where you can arrange a public meet up with fellow travellers who are also stuck like yourself.
Join online communities.
This one might be the safer option at the moment. There are many forums, Facebook and WhatsApp groups etc. exclusively for travel, expats and digital nomads. Support one another through this joint challenging time. Share some of your favourite travel stories. Or get advice for future travels. All of this will serve to remind you that travel is still present in your life. Even if it has taken on another form.
Read travel blogs.
If you don’t feel like sharing your own travel stories with someone or listening to someone else telling you all about theirs, then read travel blogs. You will find thousands that were posted before Covid hit. And you will even find some current ones from people traveling less populated or less restricted countries.
We know that it’s hard to do in these uncertain times, but you don’t need specific dates to decide where your next destination will be. Start scouting accommodation options, tourist attractions and special landmarks etc. That way, when the borders open or you’re allowed to leave your house again, you are pretty much ready to go.
Buy the ticket and make the booking.
Yes, you heard us. You can’t travel immediately or even fathom a guess as to when this will be possible again. But we’re willing to bet that it will definitely be within the next 2 years, right? Many airlines, accommodation, resorts, activities etc. are currently offering tickets and bookings at very affordable prices with no specific dates attached and valid for the next 24 months. By actually buying the ticket or booking the flight your future travel will feel more like a reality to you in your present.
It’s a tough time for everyone prone to wanderlust. Just remember that there is an expat therapist a Zoom, Skype or HangOut meeting away. To schedule your expat therapist appointment with one of our pros, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Or simply complete the contact form below: