Fear. I travel because I’m afraid. Of standing still. Of inertia. Of wanting to see the world and never actually going anywhere. I wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night. I get agitated when I can’t go. And the years fly by, and I can’t help wondering if there’s something I’m missing.
But why travel alone? Because I must. Because there’s no one else. Because I can’t wait for others to want to go where I want to go.
I was twenty-six the first time I left the United States. Aside from Canada and a cruise to Mexico, my parents have never been to another country.
When we were young, just after college, my friends and I would talk about going to Europe. Every year we would talk about it. I’d send away for tourist information, receive detailed packets from the national tourist bureaus of France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and Spain. Show them to my friends, file them away neatly for future planning. But every summer when our vacations came around, we wouldn’t go. We didn’t have the money. Or enough vacation days. Someone was getting married. Someone had a girlfriend. Eventually, a few of us would end up settling for a week in Daytona Beach. And we’d say we’d try again next year.
I couldn’t wait anymore. A disheartening winter sojourn in Florida. A better time in Key West. The train to Montreal in graduate school, and later driving around the Yucatan when I’d settled into a job.
And every time on the way home, I would already be plotting the next destination. How far can I go? What do I need?
And even now, every time I return to where I live, the homesick feeling sets in, the night sweats, the fear. And it doesn’t go away until another year has passed, and I’m on the ground in some new country.