Wanderlust, Perpetual Travel & ‘Chasing the Horizon’

What is Wanderlust

“Chasing the horizon” for me defines the love of travel, describing perfectly the irresistible urge to make a journey or the continual hunger for experiencing new cultures. It encompasses an ‘attitude for adventure’ and a ‘free spirit’ and suggests that like man’s best friend it lasts for life.

“The time to stop travelling is when the horizon is reached”

Wanderlust requires plenty of waiting at airports, Bastia, Corsica on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Airports are a necessary hassle we tolerate

The term ‘wanderlust’ is often used to describe those that love to travel, regularly making many sacrifices to realise their dreams. It is a condition most of us are happy being ‘afflicted’ with and would not take a cure even if one was available.

Are travellers born with this wanderlust, is it hereditary or do they grow into it? I have in the past intimated that adventurers are born not made, and there maybe a little truth in this, but more accurately it is probably our experiences and ambitions that shape us.

Evolution of an adventurer

My theory is partly based on my own experiences; I have always found myself getting into scrapes even as a kid, much to my parents frustration.

Long regular cycling trips to areas which allowed me to climb usually entailed either a late return home or worse my Dad having to drive around likely spots to recover me. Neither usually ended well, though sometimes they were under the impression I was staying with friends whilst really camping out at the crag, not sure how they got that impression. These were not the only occasions that my parents required to rescue me, trying to cycle across from St Annes to Southport without regard for the deep mud and the River Ribble estuary was ill-advised to put it mildly.

Incidentally attempting to cross the Ribble Estuary was not a one-off adventure, it was attempted on several occasions, I was convinced it was fordable. Fortunately my intrepid companions each time were not convinced and persuaded me to give it up.

Wanderlust fuelled view over the rooftops of Fez, Morocco Copyright © by Mallory On Travel adventure, photography

The rooftops of ancient Fez

Upon growing up, notionally at least, military service indulged this quest for adventure. Travelling to various parts of the planet for climbing, diving, kayaking, or skiing expeditions satisfied the explorer in me.

Eventually my time in the forces came to an end and attempting to ‘settle down’ seemed the order of the day, trying to ‘exist’ on annual trips. It did not last however and inevitably the wanderlust became irresistible and the ‘normal’ job was ‘ditched’ in favour of a return to ‘chasing the horizon’.

This is only my experience; every traveller has forged their own path to choosing a nomadic lifestyle, hobos by nature with a need to experience a regular dose of culture shock.

The Joy of travel

“To the traveller the destination is merely an excuse to make the journey”

In the modern era of cheap and convenient flights most people opt to fly, however the modern ‘nomads‘ that spend much of their time travelling are able to enjoy the opportunities presented by other forms of journeying. With more time available it is possible to travel overland, use various forms of transportation including trains and even securing passage on cargo ships. This can offer an experience akin to the old-fashioned ‘romance’ of travel when the journey was as much of an adventure as the destination.

The driving force behind this continued desire to travel is personal to each individual, however there are almost certainly a few common denominators.

Wanderlust in Cairo, Egypt visiting the Great Pyramid at Giza on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Icons of travel attract us all

Anticipating a journey, the realisation that it is happening when all necessary arrangements are complete, grasping the hard to come by visa, packing, and the excitement of stepping out of our home to start the adventure. These are familiar feelings to all.

Destinations offer their own attractions; the majestic splendour of countless snow topped peaks in the Greater Ranges will cause all but the most blasé of travellers to stand speechless for several moments.

The hustle and bustle of a Moroccan medina, the aromatic fragrance of saffron and other spices in the souks or the pungent stench of its tanneries, they are all part of discovering a new culture. The thought of becoming immersed in a totally alien society is often perceived as the epitome of the travel experience; a Casa in Cuba, a tribal village in the Maasai Mara, a nomadic family in Kazakhstan or a monastery in Bhutan all will have most committed travellers almost salivating.

The mere mention of certain place names is enough to stir the imagination. Names so evocative we must be moved; Zanzibar, Timbuktu, Everest, New York, Kathmandu, Taj Mahal, Paris, Okavango Delta, The Amazon, Angkor, Venice, Machu Pichu, Concordia or The Antarctic the list is long and subjective one.

These are the basis of personal ‘bucket’ lists and will depend on the influences and interests of the individual. The reasons they excite us or  why we choose them is as personal as our choice of music.

One thing those with wanderlust have in common however is they are only happy when travelling, and almost immediately upon returning from one trip they will be planning the next.

Sailing boat in Bastia harbour, Corsica sparks wanderlust on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

The way most would probably like to travel

“Do not tell me how many countries you have visited, explain to me the cultures you have experienced”

Many keep some form of bucket list whether formally or just a subconscious itinerary of destinations intending to visit.

These maybe formulated by movies, television programmes or favourite magazines, prestigious lists such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites may influence any selection process.

They all have the essential qualities that appeal to us as travellers, they are able to evoke feelings of excitement or longing just by their sheer mention and the reason that many of us will continue to ‘chase the horizon’.

A French raptor in the Aveyron has a wild wanderlust on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Like this raptor we all just want to be free


Comments 14

  1. Jeanne Soultravelers3

    Lovely post Ian! As someone into our 6th year of non-stop perpetual world travel, i can relate. I think some of it might be genetic on my part, as I’ve experienced about 80 countries in my lifetime, most of the USA states, loved traveling and moving a lot as a child growing up and my father, grandfather and even great grandfather were all world travelers as are my siblings. Seems to be in the blood!

    Perhaps some of it is “nurture” as well, as I am purposely raising our daughter as a global citizen too and at the ripe age of 10, she has been to 42 countries on 5 continents in the last 6 years and we’re raising her as a very fluent trilingual ( despite being monolinguals ourselves) so she might immerse even deeper into Mandarin and Spanish speaking cultures. She is perfectly at home on cargo ships, trains, sailboats,planes, finding her way by mass transit in any world city from Paris to Singapore, trekking in Bhutan, snorkeling with sharks in Bora Bora , riding a camel deep in the Sahara or at Petra or exploring Montenegro or Norway fjords etc. Slow travel allows us to immerse deeply in new cultures and get to befriend locals.

    I had to laugh at your biking trips as a kid that had you late or your parents coming to find you. Ha! I have similar childhood memories and how I loved exploring my world even at 10 by bike. I find the more I travel, the more I want to travel…thus we have made the world our home so now travel is our family home in motion. 😉

    1. Post

      So glad you liked it and can relate as a perpetual traveller. It sounds like you are providing your daughter with an amazing education far beyond anything any child in the state system will ever get. The sooner that children get the chance to experienfce the World the better and yes I did what I was able to on my bike. I enjoyed my adventures my parents were not quite so keen.

      Genetics may play a part, nobody can be sure of it, or it was the influence of your parents, showing you the benefits of travelling and introducing you to the nomadic lifestyle?

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. Colleen Kaleda

    I agree that the destinations that entice us — and the reasons why they do — are as diverse as the individual traveler. I’d add ‘philanthropic travel’ to the reasons why I’ve been drawn to spend time in slums in both Africa and India. While these aren’t the most visually stunning destinations, visiting them is rich in meaning for me. (I documented charitable work in Nairobi’s Kibera Slum and built houses in a slum outside Bangalore, India.) While I’m not a perpetual traveler by any means, I’ve traveled frequently for the last 15 years and I so agree … traveling feeds the need to keep traveling. I just posted about my experience in Nairobi (part one of two) on my blog, Good Journeys, at http://goodjourneys.wordpress.com

    1. Post

      You have my upmost respect Colleen travelling and helping the people that you have conected with as well as documenting the good work being done by others to that must have made the experience even more satisfying. Thank you so much for sharing. I will take a look at your site and read all about it.

  3. TravelDesigned

    “It is a condition most of us are happy to be ‘afflicted’ with and would not take a cure even if one was available.” So funny you would write this today. Earlier today I was tweeting with @FlyRFD who mentioned my tweets were giving her “the itch.” I told her something to the effect- there is no cure but “the itch” does subside when we travel. I live for those days!

    1. Post

      Haven’t you realised yet Stephanie that I am psychic? It is indeed and itch that needs scratching often, the more we travel the more we tend to want to travel. Thank you for commenting

  4. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    Great post Ian. I think we had similar childhoods. I remember once when I was about 11 making a collect call to my Mom asking if she could do my paper route. We had driven our bikes too far and wouldn’t make it home for hours. Her response? “Get your arse home NOW!” I ended up delivering papers close on midnight… 🙂

    1. Post

      Wow Raymond that is a late night paper round and hard core newsagent for still being open too! I had two paper rounds to do most of the time, used to take me quite awhile morning and evening but never until nearly midnight!

    1. Post

      You have a few evocative names to include yourself Sophie, I did nearly include The Sahara but thought I could just go on adding names forever if I did 🙂

  5. Linda

    It’s definitely in the blood. No doubt about it. I am nowhere near as well traveled (yet!) as some of the bloggers I read, but I am amazed when friends are surprised I like to travel alone, or even travel at all. Nothing surprises me more than someone saying “I’m just a home bird” or “I get homesick after a few days” or some such (to me) nonsense!

    My father was horrendously protective (still is no mind I’m 64 and he is 88!), but I had a wonderful fantasy travel life. We lived on Marton Moss (guess you know where that is, and it hadn’t changed an awful lot the last time I was there!), where my grandad had 3 or 4 acres of land, mostly uncultivated, and I could “roam” to Africa or the American Wild West or wherever took my fancy………so even when you can’t actually get out and do it, you still can in your head! Your descriptions of childhood scrapes rang bells all over the place! On our brief “acquaintance” so far I hadn’t realized that you came from St Annes either, which was the last place in UK I lived before emigrating. If I don’t have at least some vicarious travel each day I am depressed! Much better the real thing, of course, or even the planning, which I am doing right now for next month!

    Super post. Thanks for stoking the fire!

    1. Post

      Oh wow Linda Marton Moss I lived most of my childhood in the Marton area of Blackpool, no not from St Annes I am not that posh! We used to cycle over to St Annes and Fairhaven lake all the time however and almost everytime we did I would want to try to get to Southport, only ever actually tried it three times and everytime failed of course. Probably just as well my friends were a little kmore sensible than I.

      It is great that you have managed to live out the dreams you had as a child, not so many do unfortunately! It certainly sounds as if you have managed to see some amazing destinations, made some awesome journeys and had some great adventures along the way. I hope you have many more to come! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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