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  • Writer's pictureGemma Fottles

Itchy Feet: The Curse of the Travel Bug

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

The travel bug is a serious condition. Symptoms: the dreaded travel blues, difficulty in concentrating on anything but your next trip, a deep sense of longing for past travel experience... And the cure? Well, there's only one. Get out there and travel and it's instant happiness to the infected. But there's a darker side of a life a travel that is far away from endless summer nights in exotic locations. Mix in an empty bank account, neglect of your most treasured relationships and a touch of homesickness, the joy of the the travel bug is not as blessed as it may seem...

The problem with the travel bug

I have a problem with my love for travel: it is all encompassing. It is unconquerable, incurable, undefeatable. For some, that six weeks of summer interrailing, or a full gap year travelling in Australia, or a working travel experience like Camp America or teaching English in South East Asia hits the spot. The bug has been treated – or never really caught – and ‘real life’ awaits. A job, a house, a relationship, a cat, and that annual two week holiday. But what do you do if those six weeks or a few months were never going to be enough?

I mean sure, that's great. An obsession with travel is not the worst obsession you can have. Fresh out of university, this passion for travel led me to a 4-month dream job as a travel reporter for the See the World with SPAR campaign. But the problem is that the cure to the travel bug just does not exist... and at some point, when one adventure has come to an end, it becomes more and more difficult to create a life of travel without getting entangled in the seriousness of real life.

Table Mountain, Cape Town

How does travel make me feel?

I get it. A nomadic lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I understand that many people have responsibilities from a young age, many more want to have real responsibilities from a young age. But ever since I departed the UK on my first backpacking trip in Thailand when I was 18 years old, I knew that the 9-5 stability of the accepted ‘reality’of adult life just would not cut it. The travel bug creates an irrepressible feeling inside you. Every moment of not being on the road starts to feel like a lifetime. Every photograph of a place that isn’t where you are now sparks a million daydreams, and an insatiable desire to be there, be anywhere, but be there.

As soon as one foot is firmly back on the road, the feeling immediately dissipates to be replaced with a continuous and unmovable feeling of pure content that nothing can really get in the way of. For me at least, even the longest, sweatiest, most frustrating bus journey from Costa Rica to Honduras was a content one. Maybe not a pleasant one, but a content one nonetheless.

How do you create a life of travel?

Right now I am halfway through a ski season in France. I’m in a different country and one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life, but I've been here for four months already. I can feel my feet starting to itch: my symptoms are returning. That is frustrating... the inability to stay put for even just a few months. And in the absolute heaven-on-earth that is the French Alps, for god's sake. But what is there to be done? By my own advice, the only thing to be done is to travel more.

With two full months left of the season there’s nothing for it but to make the most of my time here whilst furiously making plans for the next big adventure… because that’s all that can be done, right? But with a bank account left looking very sad after my ski season adventures, the next big ordeal is figuirng out how I am going to make that life happen... and also spend a little bit of time back in England to see all of my friends. It's fun not having a plan, but it's also stressful. Anxiety-inducing. A life of travel is not as carefree as the travel blogging sphere would have you believe.

Chilling in the snow

Giant South African Lego Man.
Climbing rockz in the Arctic Circle - Norway

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