The Gypsy Syndrome

The gypsy syndrome is a real thing. Craving change, wanting to run, change paths or go anywhere to escape the feeling of being stuck. Wherever it might be; a relationship, a situation or an actual place.
But what if you physically can’t go anywhere? It got me thinking. What does out there have that right here doesn’t? I figured it is mostly a mindset. When I’m travelling I slow down, I’m more conscious, more adventurous and I fill in my days accordingly. How can we have that travel mindset when we’re at home?

I believe it starts by identifying the things or feelings we miss from travelling and incorporating them into our everyday lives. To a certain extent of course. I wish I could bring the Mauritian beaches to my front door and order an afternoon of Portuguese sunshine but that seems unlikely to happen. However, there are little things we can do day-to-day that may help us experience more of those feelings we have when we’re on the road.

Firstly, up the consciousness. When I’m at home studying or working I mostly go by autopilot. While when I’m traveling, I am more conscious of enjoying everything around me. If I were away – picking olives on a farm in Portugal or driving through a game reserve in South Africa – my eyes would be open, studying everything around me. I would be listening to the sounds of waves, chattering birds or the rumble of zebras’ hooves. I would pay attention to the air and how it felt heavy with rain when coming off the plane in Mauritius, and light and crisp when in the mountains in Switzerland. I would embrace smells and pay attention to the taste of new foods. I would be observant and aware of the way people interacted with each other on the streets. Every day would be an adventure for my senses and I would treasure it fully. Fellow travellers might recognize this type of consciousness and also recognize the fact that most of us leave this at the airport when coming home.

Secondly, when abroad, we choose our activities carefully because we’re only there for a certain amount of time. On an average travel day, I want to relax and enjoy as much as I can while a Monday at uni is all about getting through my to do list. But then I realized: average life doesn’t have to be boring! Having more travel-like moments during your week can help you experience those ‘travelly’ feelings. Try blocking a day in your planner without to do lists and make time for spontaneity. Adventures are not only for the times we are on the opposite side of the world. We make our own rules and we can create our own adventures whenever and wherever we want to.

Being mindful of our choices in relation to others also applies. When you’re travelling and you meet someone you connect with, you spend time with them and perhaps even share part of your journey with them. Eventually there comes a time when your paths split and you both move on. This phenomenon is completely normal and widely accepted in the traveling world, because people are aware of their independence and mobile nature (often the very reason they went travelling in the first place). Why then is this aspect of people coming and going so difficult in real life? For one, I think it might prove difficult to move on from certain people because the distance aspect is often not there to make it easier. Also, when our lives are more structured and static, the relationships with people around us may become more static too. Often we forget to reflect on whether we are still happy in a certain relationship, so we don’t realize when it’s time to move on. Choose your tribe carefully and think about the people you spend time with, just as you would when you’re travelling.

Finally, spend time alone! When you are traveling, especially when you are by yourself, you learn so much about who you are and what you want. You become more independent, you depend on yourself for comfort, you learn from the times when things go wrong and you have to fix them all on your own. The paradox of travelling is that although we’re far away, we actually start looking closer and find answers or solutions within ourselves. Wherever you are, stay true to yourself.

Eva van der Graaf.  Born in The Netherlands. Raised in Africa. MSc WUR. Owner of WritingBy. Hippie at Heart.