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I’ve sat down to write this post so many times and either stared at my keyboard blankly or typed a flood of incomprehensible paragraphs that confused me so much I would end up slamming my laptop shut.

I’ve been waking up a lot lately with a heaviness that sits with me through the day.

It’s pretty hard to say “I’m not happy” when your life looks like a mashup of The Amazing Race and The Bachelorette. I basically won the global lottery — I was born healthy in the United States to an upper-middle class family that loves me. Looking at how stacked that deck is makes it difficult to lay out your cards and say there’s something off.

I’ve been struggling with this feeling of slight discontentment for a while now, but tried to silence it, or shove it to the back of my mind. Because really, it’s not unbearable. I still laugh when something funny happens, smile when I see something beautiful, get my work done on time and am generally just fine. Yet something is off. When I think back to some of my happiest times — when I was on Hawaii, for example — I know that I don’t have that radiant joy and that insatiable energy right now. What I don’t know is why.

When you’re traveling constantly and so many variables are changing all the time, it’s hard to isolate the source of your unhappiness and cherry pick it out of your life.

OneYearLater_003

Missing My People

While I wouldn’t label myself homesick, I have a lot if anxiety surrounding my relationships. Do my friends in Brooklyn miss me? Has it really been two months since I got my college best friend on Skype? Am I still considered part of the crew in Albany? Does the person I thought of as my closest friend throughout my travels ever think about me? Am I still am honorary member of what I’ve always referred to as my second family? Am I good daughter, a loyal sister? It comes down to this: Am I a meaningful part of my loved ones lives?

I cried myself to sleep last week when an offhand, completely innocuous comment made by one of my closest friends sent a signal to me that our relationship had changed. While Anders consoled me he told me that he had been blown away by the warmth radiating from my friends and might-as-well-be-family he had met in his visit to the US. “You have so much love around you, girl,” he told me. And it only made me cry harder. Can I really be offended by a skipped phone call or a missing invitation when I’m the one constantly absent from their lives?

And I don’t just miss those people, I miss having people in general. For the most part, I find connecting with other travelers and expats to come naturally and I deeply cherish and invest in the relationships I make on the road. But in South America, there’s been a notable lack of them. I can think of just three people from the past 3+ months of travel who I felt a strong and lasting connection to.

family and friends

Homesick for My Second Home

I miss Southeast Asia, deep down in my bones. I long for her in the obsessive, all-consuming way you’d miss a lost love. What I miss the most isn’t the delicious food, or the fantastic diving, or the peaceful islands, or the vibrant cities – it’s the way I feel when I’m there. Thailand has been magnetically pulling me back since I first stepped foot there in 2009, and over time has become my second home. That country just wrecks me in every way.

Recently, my memory dredged up a post I read years ago by one of the world’s funniest bloggers, Sally. But her explanation of the Portuguese notion of saudade was nothing to laugh over — she described it as “a potent mix of yearning and nostalgia; a feeling so complex that it is not easily talked about,” and “a wishful longing for completeness or wholeness.”

I simply haven’t connected to South America in the same way I did to Southeast Asia. Sometimes it feels like my heart is halfway across the planet. Realistically, I know I won’t be back for another seven months. That hurts my heart to think about – can’t I just stop time and dip back for a bit, really quickly? – but there’s nothing I can do to change it. I just need to find a way to be happy in the present.

We have a pretty big change of plans coming up — one that fills me with excitement — which I’ll announce later this week. In the meantime, I’m trying to remind myself of the little things I’m loving so far about Latin America — being able to communicate in the local language, the abundance of avocados, and being in the same time zone as friends, family and colleagues (makes life and work so much easier).

Southeast Asia

Struggling with Non-Solo Travel

I’ve spent a lot of time traveling solo in the past few years. Anyone who has traveled alone can relate to the fierce independence that develops from doing so. But I also derived a lot of my identity and pride from it. I’ve also come to understand that I need copious, quiet time alone to be able to hear my own thoughts. When I’m surrounded by other people I have a hard time “checking in” with myself.

Traveling full-time with another person again has been a sometimes challenging transition. My patience with Anders is embarrassingly low and over time his has sunk to meet mine, which equals two people who bicker frequently. At the same time I know our time together is limited as he will soon return to Denmark to begin a degree, and soon I’ll be missing my sweet, easygoing travel buddy. It’s not easy for him to travel with someone working from the road and he handles it with grace. And let’s face it: some aspects of traveling are indescribably easier with someone else on your team.

We have started to find our way. Sometimes, we spend days apart — today, he’s hiking in a National Park while I work on a freelancing project. Also, we split our time between dorms and private rooms in order to meet other people and take pressure off each other. Those two changes have made a really positive impact.

Moving Too Fast or Traveling Too Much

When I left New York at the beginning of October I wrote that I wasn’t ready to go — my time at home had been too short and I felt rushed. Yet it started out so well – In Iquitos I was overwhelmed with joy at being back on the road. That euphoria faded somewhat as the days and destinations wore on, and I laugh now as I realize I’ve become exactly the kind of backpacker I’ve always said I could never be — constantly on the move for months on end.

Granted, I’m a pretty high energy traveler and for shorter trips, like my eight days in Iceland, I’m happy to cram it all in. But on longer trips, for example my most recent five month trip to Southeast Asia, I started with three weeks on Koh Tao and I wound down with five weeks on Gili Trawangan. While on this current journey I have moved slowly compared to many travelers (I spent a whole 2.5 months in Peru!), the longest I have stayed in one place was ten days.

What have I learned from this? In the future my long-term trips must involve some significant pauses where I can settle down, catch my breath, and recharge. Also, though it makes much less sense budget-wise, I may try to shorten trips to regions other than Southeast Asia (which, as I’ve established, is like a second home) to 6-8 weeks rather than 6 months.

Travel

Feeling Like a Blob

The typical South American dish is made up of 90% carbohydrates, 9% protein, and 1% vegetables, followed by heavy heapings of sugary desserts that I find impossible to resist. Occasionally it is possible to find healthy food, though at much higher price — which I’m always willing to splash out for. But those places are hard to find. As a result, not only have I gained some weight again — I’ve seen my self-esteem plummet and my frustration with myself rise. My self-esteem and mental health are heavily tied to how strong and fit I feel — I think it’s no coincidence that one year ago when I was at my lifetime peak of fitness, I was also at one of my lifetime peaks of happiness.

I have started to make changes. I’ve cut way back on sweets and I tend to take whatever rice/bread/potatoes are on my plate and give half of them to Anders immediately. And I work out a decent amount, for a traveler — I went for runs on the beach in Montanita, hit up an actual gym in Guayaquil, and went to yoga in Mancora. But I need to get back to  working out religiously and being more vigilant about seeking out healthy eating options.

Just Plain Depressed

Maybe I’m a little depressed. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression in boughts throughout my life and I can’t help but feel a minor one rolling through right now. I know for a fact that I’m not doing the things I need to do for my mental health (daily exercise, huge doses of Vitamin D, etc). It’s so hard to separate mind and place – would I feel this way if I was sitting in this moment in Thailand? Would I have been happy had I been here this time last year?

Rainbow

. . . . . .

Blogging about tough concepts has always been positive for me — both the cathartic process of writing thought the issue and then heeding your wise words after. It also keeps me accountable, in a way. Once you publicly announce something is off in your life, I think you give yourself that extra push to correct it. In fact, I’ve felt a positive impact from just working on this post for the past two weeks.

Thanks for being here guys, for the shiny photos and the fancy destinations and also the hard stuff too.

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124 Comments...
  • Emily Roth
    January 14 2014

    I can only imagine the stress that traveling foreign lands 24/7 could bring on. I myself suffer from anxiety and it really sucks when I’m in my own environment at home. Don’t feel bad for feeling that way.

    And your friends should know you are living out your life and dreams traveling and they should respect that and still care about you and well if they don’t maybe they aren’t worth having in your life. Sadly people drift apart. And sometimes it’s for the best even though at the time it doesn’t seam to be the case.

    Hope the rest of your time in South America is amazing, maybe you’ll meet some like minded travelers, and enjoy your visit more.
    Emily Roth recently posted..Recent Reads: A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke & John Rendall

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thanks Emily, I appreciate the understanding. I would say that all my friends and family are incredibly respectful and supportive of my travels. However I can only imagine how difficult it is to have someone constantly dipping in and out of your life, and that isn’t their fault — if anything, it’s mine! And it’s just the way it is. I do agree that sometimes people drift apart, thought I’ve always had a hard time accepting that fact.

  • Caitlin Morris
    January 14 2014

    Alex,
    First let me start with how important discovering your blog this past november has been to me. As a fellow new englander Ive been bit by the travel bug, however being in the nursing field its nearly impossible to take long stretches of time off to travel (its actually seen as a negative quality in the field)unless you do Medicines sans frontiers which you need countless years experience for. What I love about your blog is taking your experiences and finding what you enjoyed most to help plan week long trips for myself (I’ll be doing in Iceland in June!). Your question to yourself; Am I a meaningful part of my loved ones lives? is a question I too have asked myself. I almost wonder if it comes not from your travel but from where you are in life (young woman making it on her own). And as for the food, >carbs and <veggies will definitely affect your mood. If you don't already I encourage you to read MindBodyGreen. I would imagine that's where part of your love for asia is greater than that of Peru and surrounding (soo many carbs!). I also can't help wonder if you've just spent too much time in a place that just doesn't suit you. I don't know if you are mulling over stopping travel but I encourage you to not make that decision until you are in a happier place! Ill leave you with one of my favorite inspirational quotes; "Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step" Love from New England

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Hey Caitlin, I felt the love in this comment and it really warmed my heart 🙂

      I think you are right that my diet affects my mood more than I can imagine. I just bookmarked MindBodyGreen on Amazon! And I also agree on the length of trips. I have taken stock of that and am incorporating it into my future travels — I’m going to learn from it, but definitely not stop traveling! I think I need to reserve these incredibly long haul trips for Southeast Asia and make trips to other areas more of the 6-8 week variety.

      As for traveling as a nurse, I’ll hopefully have a nursing story coming up in my Earning Abroad series that maybe will give you some inspiration! Enjoy Iceland — it’s an unreal country.

  • Tommy
    January 14 2014

    “it’s the way I feel when I’m there.”

    My words exactly. I love who I am when I’m there. Southeast Asia – my second home.

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      What a special place it is! I know how you feel, Tommy.

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    January 14 2014

    I get what your saying with it’s hard to complain when you’ve “won the global lottery” . When I’m having a bad day and I get a message or comment that says “I’m so jealous of you, you’re so lucky!” Thats bound to confuse anyone. I bet most bloggers/travelers on FB can relate.

    As for the weight loss- I’m in the same boat! Indian food is so bad and when I’m homesick I eat what reminds me of home… which here is chocolate. so yeah, this week I’ve decided to start being healthier. My boyfriend eats a ton and it’s a horrible influence! Stick with it!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..Breaking Stereotypes of American Travelers

    • Deepanshu
      January 14 2014

      Hey rachel
      I am an Indian and I am kind of surprised by your comment.
      Foriegners usually love Indian food and there are all sorts of options for healthy food too. May I ask where in India are you living?

      • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
        January 15 2014

        Hi Deepanshu! I should have written “bad for my body” not bad. my apologies! I am in Goa and my body just isn’t used to the ghee, or amount of oil used. I find myself eating lots of bread and rice here, so I’m just trying to cut back and eat fresher. and I must stay away from the sweets! 🙂
        Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..Breaking Stereotypes of American Travelers

        • Deepanshu
          January 15 2014

          I can understand. But Goa’s still okay when it comes to that kind of food. You’d be shocked at at the amount of ghee they use here up north especially in Punjab.

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Yeah, I was having a very sad day on Thanksgiving being away from my family, and when I revealed that to an old friend they basically told me that things could be worse — didn’t I know there was a massive typhoon in the Philippines?! And it was totally true, but damn!

      Good luck with the healthy living, Rachel. Just this morning I started again what I call my “hostel workout” — 10 push ups, 10 burpees, 10 tricep dips, and 20 crunches, repeat 3x! I’m confident that if I do that 5x per week plus a couple runs I will see a huge change in my mood. The amazing thing is that as humans we usually know at least a few of the steps we need to make to be healthier and happier, yet we resist so greatly to taking them.

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad
    January 14 2014

    Thank you for this post, Alex, and for your honesty. I too feel really guilty about feeling unhappy sometimes when I’ve been blessed with so much. When I was in Southeast Asia I felt inexplicably miserable for about two months; I was fighting every urge not to just buy a ticket and go home. The second I got home I felt a weight lift and have been feeling so, so much better- honestly I think I was sick of both solo travel and travel itself. And I too notice my happiness levels go way up when I’m working out and eating clean. I’m not sure of exactly what will make you feel better but maybe a month or two at home would help you refocus. Wishing you the best in whatever you decide.
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..How to Plan an Inexpensive but Awesome Trip Abroad

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I remember reading about that period, Ashley. I know that feeling of struggling every day not to buy a ticket home! I’m not experiencing it right now but I certainly have in the past. I have a post coming up on Thursday about my travel plans for 2014, but yes — there is plenty of time in the US on the calendar! And I couldn’t be happier about it.

  • becky hutner
    January 14 2014

    aaaaand, this is why you’ve ruined the “oh my god isn’t my life so amazing” travel blog for me. once again alex, thank you for being so honest with us!

    i can certainly relate to feeling less-than-satisfied on the road, & then guilty about it. what i try to tell myself during these times is — travel is not just about feeling carefree and experiencing pure joy. you don’t feel this way 100% of the time in your home life so why should you in your travel life? you’re still you & you still have to deal with your shit. travel is an opportunity to work through your issues in a variety of situations, to test your limits, in other words, the total cliche — to learn about yourself.

    when i left toronto for california, i too worried about remaining relevant to my friends. while it sounds like you absolutely are, i had to conclude after a few wedding snubs that i was not! sure it hurt, but when i thought about the wealth of experiences and new friends i’d gained in making a move to a place that was more “me,” it was hard to dwell. i can say almost certainly that you will lose touch with some people — it’s a part of life and you just have to be grateful for the time you had and for everything in your life at present.

    finally, you are underlining why i am scared to travel anywhere but southeast asia!! i fear that other places will lack “that feeling.” the smiles that make my heart full. the endless opportunity for adventure in a safe & welcoming milieu. no doubt about it — it is a very special corner of the world.

    good luck working through this stuff, alex. the good news is, it sounds like you know what makes you happy — staying in shape, slow travel, alone time & that is more than many people in their early 20s can say!
    becky hutner recently posted..Fashion ‘Round the World: What people wore in 2013

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I love your attitude about travel. I do meet people on the road who seem to be having the nonstop absolute best time ever of their lives, and I definitely start to question why I can’t be so effortlessly happy. But then I remind myself that this is maybe their one vacation per year, or their one major round-the-world trip of a lifetime, and I’m happy for them! But this is life for me and a lot of days I’m “at work” just sitting in a hostel instead of a cubicle, and so of course I’m going to have a crap work day.

      And I understand your fear of the “other than Southeast Asia” destinations. I had it before this trip and in some ways it has come true! I still want to see the rest of the world, of course — I think I have just discovered I will love it most in smaller doses.

  • Having traveled alot for work alone I can relate to alot of what you say here….its gets better, especially after you return home. I miss long-term travel, but am glad I do it with family now rather than alone…
    Adam @ Visit Flyover Country recently posted..Albuquerque, NM: Duke City

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I’m glad you’ve found your travel-happy-place, Adam! I know that I need lots of time to recharge at home too. It’s something I know about myself yet ignored this summer, and maybe I’m paying the price for it now. I’ll be better about listening to myself in the future…

  • Breanna
    January 14 2014

    I really enjoyed this post. I like that you share not just the shiny happy travel stuff but the real life stuff. It makes it more personal to read your blog.
    Now I wasn’t travelling or anything this summer when I got a bought of depression I couldn’t shake. There was no cause. And like you I had a loving family a great job, good health blah blah blah but it didn’t matter. I pretty much just rode it out while forcing the exercise and healthy eating thing.
    Anyways thanks for this post I hope things get back on track for you!

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      This comment made me laugh — the “blah blah blah” is exactly how exasperated I feel sometimes when I feel like I need to qualify my feelings 🙂 I’m glad you’re on the other side now, sounds like you knew what you had to do and made it through.

  • Erika
    January 14 2014

    Alex, as usual, I am impressed and intrigued by your openness and vulnerability. I think that, no matter how happy we are or how good things are in our lives, we have periods of dissatisfaction which may not have a huge explanation. Or, maybe they do but it takes a while to figure out how to answer that softer intuitive call. It looks like you have isolated a lot of things that may be contributing to it and some possible solutions, so that’s awesome.

    This just makes me think about how places are so different. They each have a different energy, even if they have similar shops or food or amenities. Some places make us feel happier and stronger and at peace. Other places are nice but maybe not quite for us and we can’t put our finger on it. The good news about being in those places that aren’t as good of a fit is that it helps us to be grateful and appreciate the places that are, which comes through with this post. It helps us to identify what’s unique and special to us.

    Hope this patch passes through painlessly and quickly, but moments like this could signify a change in the stage of life we are in as well as growth. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts so openly — I always love reading them!!!

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thanks, Erika. I definitely found writing this post cathartic, and it DID help me identify changes that need to be made right now and also in the future as I make more travel plans. I also love writing posts like this because they keep me accountable. This morning I woke up and the first thing I did was a mini-workout, and added to my to-do list today is to write long emails to some close friends from home. I know everyone blogs differently but for me there would be no point if I wasn’t sharing it all, the highs and the lows.

  • Jimmy Dau
    January 14 2014

    What a great read. Thanks. Sometimes we just have to follow our hearts and focus on the on the moment and not where we need to be. After spending what felt like more time on busses going through the bottom half of Central America, I just dropped everything and spent 6 weeks in Medellin, Colombia and re-established an everyday routine, enrolled into Spanish school so that I could feel normal again.

    Missing friends especially your closest ones will always be natural and social media doesn’t help in alleviating the FOMO. In the end though, they will always be there when you get back and the best relationships are the ones where you see them again and it feels like you can just hit it off right away.

    Understand how you feel about feeling like a blob. 1 litre beers in south america don’t help as well. My saviour was hiking and there are beautiful places around your neck of the woods to get fit and appreciate a bit of nature 🙂
    Jimmy Dau recently posted..Sailing the high seas in Chile on the Navimag Ferry

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Hey Jimmy! I love that you found such a great way to get back in your groove. I am doing something semi-similar starting next week. While I already have a few commitments lined up that I can’t break, I have slowed my itinerary down as much as the time/space continuum will allow. And yes, hiking and the other outdoor adventures South America has on offer have been one of my favorite parts of traveling here. After hiking the Inca Trail it’s hard to go back to a treadmill!

  • Kerrie Tookey
    January 14 2014

    Fantastic read. Brave of you to put your feelings out for all to read but also nice too see the not so glamorous side of travelling.

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Ha, I’m always here to provide a little dose of the non-shiny side of travel, Kerrie! I feel blessed that for the most part I have not much to write negatively about but when I do, I always want to be honest and transparent. Thanks for reading.

  • Amanda @ Farsickness
    January 14 2014

    Sometimes I think that feeling like I can’t complain about something or feel bad or sad because I have it a lot better than other people actually makes me feel worse. I realized when I was on the road that even though my problems seemed trivial to some, they were still a big deal to me and that was what mattered for my mental health.

    I love the honesty- that’s why I continue to read your blog. Good luck with everything, Alex!

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      So true, Amanda. There is no such thing as the sad-lympics. We shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling human emotions. Yet sometimes it’s hard not to.

  • and this is why I read your blog. You are SO incredibly honest with not just yourself, but your readers too. Thank you thank you thank you. I too sometimes feel that something is just “off” in my life and have a hard time figuring out what it is. But I agree- once you get it all down on paper, it kind of all comes together, once you make an effort to do so.

    Be Happy! 🙂 You have so much to be thankful for!
    Jessica | A Passion and A Passport recently posted..14 Adventurous Places to Travel in 2014

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Being honest with you guys forces me to be honest with myself! That’s something I love about blogging. Thank you for reading, and keeping me accountable!

  • Bernard
    January 14 2014

    That saying goes that you need a vacation from your vacation….well it’s true. All of this just builds up when on the road. I start feeling this way around the 4th week or so. You just need to get back to that place you call home, take comfort in the familiar, spend time with loved ones, and just decompress. In no time, you’ll be wanting to be back on the road.

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I couldn’t agree more, Bernard. I think that’s why my past long-term trips have been more “successful” — I’ve taken time to stop every 4-6 weeks to take a break, recharge, and get into a routine. By the time I take off again I’m raring to go.

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    January 14 2014

    Thank you for writing this, it just saved me a ton of time because things are the exact same way for me at the moment. So I just linked to this instead 🙂 Girl, I feel ya on all fronts. Thanks for your honesty and not sugar-coating it. Feeling unhappy seems like a sin when you live at the beach or you travel around awesome destinations but the reality is that life happens no matter where you live it or what you do for a living and it’s great sometimes and less than great other times, and that’s just the way it is. Don’t let the fear of people judging you for it hold you back from telling your own truths.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Roatan Month 17 Roundup

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thanks Rika, and I’m sorry to hear you’re heading through a rough patch. I’ve been guilty as well of occasionally judging people who seemed to have it all but couldn’t stop complaining (ex. every celebrity on the planet). But having the same “Just be happy! You have it all!” lobbed at me when I’m in a black hole has helped me reconsider that viewpoint.

  • Jade
    January 14 2014

    No matter what kind of life we find ourselves in, whether we have a ‘normal’ 9-5 job, are a movie star, or a travel blogger, there will always be moments of dissatisfaction. I’m not sure it would be healthy to be constantly, chronically happy all the time! Don’t beat yourself up because of how you think you should be feeling, given your circumstances.
    Emotions happen!
    You’ve obviously got a good understanding of the things you need to do to add a little more content to your life and that is the hardest step. And maybe there is something deeper, but those big questions don’t usually show themselves until they are ready.
    All we can do is work on the little things that make us happy. So make sure that you are exercising AND giving yourself a delicious South American desert every once in a while!
    I hope you start feeling better soon, and hope you can incorporate the places you really want to be into your upcoming travel schedule!

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thanks Jade. As usual, reading through the comments has been an exercise in hearing exactly what I needed to hear. I truly feel guilt is the mind’s most toxic emotion, and adding it to my current pileup of issues is doing nothing to help anyone. You have a lot of wise words here — especially the ones about the occasional dessert! 🙂

  • Amanda
    January 14 2014

    Thinking of you, Alex. I too suffer from depression and anxiety at times and talking to a doctor/therapist helps so much! The thing about depression is that you are depressed no matter you’re circumstances/how great your life is. It’s a mental disease so you can’t beat yourself up about it. I appreciate your honesty as always!
    Amanda recently posted..Dealing with guilt in Africa

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I have often thought about how someday I want to start a Skype therapy service for long term travelers, ha! (Please don’t crush my dreams by telling me this already exists.) Being able to take advantage of resources like support groups and/or a therapist is something I miss about being in one place.

  • Erica
    January 14 2014

    Alex, I can relate to this more than you know. This too shall pass. Follow your heart, give it time, and all will be right 🙂
    Erica recently posted..The Happiest of Holidays

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thank you Erica. I appreciate your support and your wise, kind words. Time really does heal most wounds…

  • Kristin
    January 14 2014

    The answer is YES. I love you. Hang in there, and know I am always here for you.

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Love you so much, dear friend. And can’t wait for the Summer of Kristin and Alex ahead!

  • laura
    January 14 2014

    Alex,
    I hope you are referring to us when you indicate you wonder if you are a still considered to be an honorary member of your second family. I can tell you right now, from my heart, you will ALWAYS be part of our family. I talk about “my second daughter” quite often and send people the link to your website. Heck I have your picture hanging on my wall at work! No matter where you go or how long you are gone, please know we love you and always look forward to your trip home to see us.

    Can’t wait to see you in March and give you a big hug 🙂

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I cried a little when I read this, Laura. I love you guys so much and as I said last night on the phone, I am counting down the days 🙂

  • Sarah
    January 14 2014

    Glad to hear there are many of us in the same un-chartered waters of ‘the ‘vis’ is always clearer on the other side’ situations. It’s an interesting feeling, because I think we all know that it’s the same feeling as you would feel back home, just from a different standpoint, which is foreign, so you may not know how to deal, or what it ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ for ourselves

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      First of all… I adore the diver twist on the “grass is always greener” saying 🙂 And I agree, sometimes minor feelings of discontent, sadness, etc. are heightened when we are traveling because we don’t have our routine or our usual supports to find comfort in.

  • Lindsey
    January 15 2014

    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having a tough time of it lately, and yet – I’m always relieved to know that there are other people (and people I admire, to boot), who experience this heaviness on the road. I know it’s in no way helpful at all right now, but I think that there are a lot of people who will really, really appreciate this post.
    Lindsey recently posted..Discovering the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thanks Lindsey — and I’m honored, truly, to be in the category of people anyone admires! And indeed it is always helpful and immensely rewarding to know something I’ve written has touched someone in a way.

  • Janice Stringer
    January 15 2014

    Thank you for sharing Alex. At home or away, at different times, there are always factors that will affect our way of being. I think that’s life. It sounds like you have a lot going on,many thoughts running around your mind and have been adapting to many changes as you travel. Recognizing where your heart lies, what’s important to you and maybe you just need to be in one place for a while? I too have recently picked up on the signals within a friendship of mine (one that has spanned over 30 years)that there are changes and damn, it’s horrible when you realise that. With or without other love surrounding you.
    Do you have to keep travelling for the sake of it – if your heart knows what it wants – do you listen to it and follow its guidance? I hope you work it all through and remember we are here (even when you don’t know who ‘we’ are!) 🙂

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      Thank you Janice, I really love this comment. I have always struggled with relationships coming to an end, natural or otherwise. For some people it seems to be so easy to let go! As far as travel plans in the future, I have tried to keep in mind the lessons I’m learning now. I think I’m doing a good job incorporating them, though the challenge for me is always not to over-schedule myself.

  • Stef
    January 15 2014

    Thanks for such an honest post Alex! I think everyone who travelled solo long-term can relate to that. People always think everything is just happiness while being on the road. At the moment I’m not travelling but have planned it to hit the road again. Travelling is what fulfills me most but as in every aspect of life there are good and bad days. Locations you like more and locations you like less because you cannot connect with it or you do not meet the right people. Travelling long-term is still what a lot of people dream of but there is a reason why many people do not have the courage to do it I guess. Because you have to put back other things. I hate to say goodbye to my friends and family and not seeing them on a regular basis. That’s definitely the worst part of travelling and a sacrifice most people do not want to make. People often do not see that and think you do not appreciate what you are doing what is totally bullshit. As I said good things come and good things go. But I’m convinced that you’ll soon will be able to experience good times again. Live your life! I wish you all the best!
    Stef recently posted..Tour Review: Dolphin Watch & Cave Tour with Dreamwave

    • Alex
      January 15 2014

      I think you hit on a major point about having to “put back other things.” Every lifestyle requires some area of sacrifice and the traveling one requires straining many of your relationships. I have met a lot of long term travelers who seem a bit jaded in this respect and have severed most of their ties at home. While it makes their lives easier in a sense I never want to get to that point. My family and friends are so incredibly important to me and such a massive presence in my life… I need to make sure they know that, regardless of what country I’m in. Thanks for the love x

  • Corinne
    January 15 2014

    It is always difficult to write posts where you admit that life, even a seemingly gifted life, has its ups and downs. I’ve been traveling for years, and unfortunately my friends and even my family have stopped including me in many events. I’m not there, and I’m not going to be there. It’s a choice I’ve made, and one that I won’t change, but it does make me feel lonely from time to time. I often feel left out, but I don’t want to give up the life I’ve chosen so I know it’s one of those things I just have to deal with. It’s hard. It is, but hopefully you feel you’ve made the right choices, and guess what? If you want, you can go home. Good luck! Feel better!
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