What Is Wanderlust? Let Me Tell You A Story, Then You’ll Know!

Have you, like me, just recently heard about this word, and now you must know what it means?

Let me tell you a story about what it means to me, but first I need to tell you the word definition according to most reputable sources.

What is Wanderlust? Wanderlust is when you have a strong urge to travel and explore. It is the opposite of being homesick. Wanderlust originates from German, and describes the lust (or desire) to go wandering (or travel), and is not a desire to go anywhere particular.

This is the Merriam-webster & dictionary-version of the word, but the word wanderlust is more than a definition describes with two sentences, it is a feeling.

As I am writing this blog post, I feel an increasing wanderlust, so I will try to describe this feeling, the best way I can.

Let’s go into it.

After you read my blog post, I would like to hear from you in the comments, how you have experienced the wanderlust taking you.

What i feel Wanderlust is to me

This is a real story from my life, not present day, but years ago:

I was in my new office, just starting a new job and a position I was headhunted into.

The perfect job.

I was hired to start and build a whole new department of web design- and online marketing, in an already established IT-company, who needed to branch out.

At the time, no better job description would fit my career.

My entrepreneurial spirit was nourished by the chance to build something, and I started creating websites in the age of 10, and professionally as 17, but now I got the chance to show everyone, my worth in building a department.

As I do the last work on the new website and put the finishing touches on the marketing campaign for the IT-company, I just got an email. The company car I negotiated on top of my significant pay raise, from my last job was on its way from the car factory.

But then suddenly it hit me.

Somehow I did not feel happy.

Something was starting to take shape, something was building up inside me, something I did not recognize.

I had been chasing a digital career and just landed an opportunity, at the age of 22 that most people would love to have, at the peak of their career.

Everything was supposed to be perfect.

The colleagues were great, the hours & salary was certainly great. But I was suffocating.

I got tired, for no reason, I spent most of my time staring out the window.

My work started to suffer.

I suffered.

I did not understand what was going on. Why was I not happy?

I had worked hard to get this job, why was I becoming more and more miserable?

At the same time, my best friend signed up to a 6-week course to become a travel guide.

FACT: In Denmark, we do have a total of 5-6 weeks of vacation, in total depending on what job you have.

The days go by, I got a pit in my stomach before going to work, I lose my breath and I go to bed very early every night.

Clearly, I was stressed. It was not because of the expectations, nor the difficulty of the job. I had just lost my “mojo” and my motivation.

But one day, an idea starts to take shape.

I needed to go with my friend to take this travel guide course, and as I look up the syllabus online, I discovered that being a travel guide, is actually a great “salesperson”-education.

I have always been very good at web design & digital marketing, but selling is something I had no experience with.

At this point, I went all in to prepare a presentation about this education for my new bosses, and somehow I got them to agree to let me go on this 6 weeks course.

But I had to go on my own time, and on my own dime. So at that point, I spent all my savings on the course.

I felt 100 pounds lighter. I started feeling the spring coming in, I felt alive again.

This was just what I needed, I just had to go.

This might be my first chance encounter with wanderlust, saving me from stress and unhappiness.

Wanderlust was at this point, for me, the need to get to the surface and take a breath of fresh air, when I was drowning in my work and current life situation.

I actually went about quitting via email when I was away, it was a terrible ordeal. I just needed the air, and I could have ruined my career at this point, I had no backup.

No job to go home to, I had no plan.

It was exactly what I needed.

No plan at all!

I was away for just about 11 weeks, and when I came home, I was ready to go full steam ahead in my career.

Since then, I have been careful not to suffocate, and not to continue swimming when I need a break.

I have been able to include travel opportunities and to include “new stuff” and frontiers to be explored.

Now I am actually running my own company, and if I ever get close to this feeling again, I know I am in control, and I have no one to ask if I need a breath of air.

Travel Guide bulgaria

Image Credits: Me as a Travel Guide in 2012

Today, wanderlust is different for me

I feel that maybe the definition of wanderlust has changed a bit for me.

I no longer suffocate in my job or in any routines, because if I get new routines, I just destroy them, which keeps me going.

But I am very aware of things like golden handcuffs and I work hard on destroying debt, which makes me feel free, even though I do not travel today, I know I can.

NOTE: Golden handcuffs are when you are heavily reliant on a great salary and by extension don’t have any freedom to do what you like, because you need money to pay the bills. And you need to keep pursuing a career.

At the same time, I use all my money, to pay for mortgages, which in Denmark, where I am from, is a big part of your life, and most people will never pay off their house.

But I need to do this, to stay sane. I need a mission, to pay off the house, and then I need to see the world.

Wanderlust is for me, not just about going, but having the opportunity to go.

I really would like to see any country and any place in the world. But not enough so that I don’t want to be financially secure. Kids and long-term thinking keeps me from going traveling today.

I’d rather be able to afford to travel more in the future.

But that being said, I am going in two weeks from now. 

So, I still get to catch my breath, once in a while.

I am lucky to share my life, with a girlfriend who feels the same.

Having (or being?) wanderlust, makes you weigh every purchase in your life, and makes you spend less in the short-term.

As consumers of the world, this makes us agree on many things, and I honestly think that if you have a wanderlust inside you, you are more likely to disregard physical possessions, because you know that expensive habits make traveling less likely.

This is with one caveat though, I spend too little on clothes and stuff sometimes, I am told to go buy I new shirt. And at the same time, I spend too much on experiences, especially for the kids.

I love to go to Legoland, Zoo, Go the beach and eat at restaurants.

So for me, it’s all about the experiences in life and not hollow possessions.

It’s not only about going to a new country and tasting new foods, it’s about stopping time, and enjoying life. I hope my kids will inherit the same kind of thinking.

Image Credits: My own Private photos

Is Wanderlust a bad word?

No, Wanderlust is not a bad word. I can see how it might sound like something about intimate relations between two people. But it is all about the “need to go traveling”.

If you read my blog post, then you’ll know the feeling, if you ever felt it. If you feel more safe, staying home in your comfort zone, then this word might still be foreign to you.

In Danish (my first langage) we have several words describing this feeling.

  • Udlængsel
  • Udve
  • Rejsefeber
  • Rejslængsel
  • Rejselyst

What do you call a person who has wanderlust?

I did some research on this, and I could not find a definitive answer. But here is some words you could use.

  • Nomad
  • Wanderer
  • Explorer
  • Traveler
  • Adventurer
  • Dreamer

5 Traveling Quotes, that describes Wanderlust

Sometimes, a few well-spoken words, quotes, spark a feeling.

The best writers, know how to capture something as intangible as Wanderlust, in just a few sentences.

I have chosen some quotes about travel, that describes what I feel Wanderlust is, better than I could ever do.

Wanderlust related travel quotes

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Unknown

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself” – David Mitchell

“There’s no way I was born to just pay bills and die” – Unknown

“A great way to learn about your country is to leave it.” – Henry Rollins

What is Wanderlust To You?

Have you ever felt suffocated, or just felt like you were supposed to be more happy than you are?

I hope you are able to take a breath of air sometimes