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The other day I wrote a post called, “Why I hate travel”. Before you gasp and shoot me accusing looks, hear me out! No, of course, I don’t really hate travel, I love it too much to actually hate it. But there are certain aspects of being on the road a lot that I really dislike. I am not talking about crappy airline food (I happen to be a big fan of some airlines’ food actually!), uncomfortable hostel beds or the fact that the Deutsche Bahn (German train system) is always late. I am talking about the things that really get under my skin. Things that leave me utterly disappointed with my big love, Travel, and make me feel alone even when I’m with my friend, The Big Wide World.

1. Home is where the 7Eleven is

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My definition of home has changed over time. I have a home where my parents, my old toys, and my first school still are. I have a home where I currently pay taxes and where my very awesome accountant lives. And then there are many other homes in between.
It happens when you travel, that if you get lucky you arrive somewhere new and feel home. Sometimes that takes five minutes, sometimes a bit longer, but during travels, we tend to create intense feelings with places. That in itself is not a bad thing, quite, on the contrary, because arriving ‘home’ is one of the most wonderful feelings. Home becomes a concept more than a brick and mortar place, home is where the heart is. Sometimes however it is hard when the entire world becomes a place to call home; when the concept of ‘home’ gets a bit diluted. If your home is where your heart is, what happens when your heart is split into many pieces?

“You will never be completely at home again because part of heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”                                                                                                   Miriam Adeney

2. Friends

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Since I went to college in New York, I am fortunate enough to have friends in many countries. Best friends, good friends, friends who will offer me their couch, open their homes and their hearts to me. Some I speak with regularly and others once a year, yet when we do it seems no time at all has passed. I have learned to live with the fact that my friendships are location independent and my friends have learned to live with the fact that I am too. However, sometimes it is nothing short of heartbreaking to leave friends behind whenever I travel. I miss birthdays, movie nights, heartbreaks and promotions and sometimes not even Skype or email can make up for it. Traveling can get lonely and no amount of fun new acquaintances can change that. There is simply nothing that can substitute your BFF just popping in to give you a hug when you need it most.

3. On the horizon

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Mark Twain said: “Travel is Fatal to Prejudice, Bigotry & Narrow-Mindedness.” That gets truer the more we see of the world: travel is mind opening, which, of course, is wonderful. I think if the world needs anything it is more tolerance, more acceptance, more ‘let me try to walk in your shoes’.
Unfortunately, for every traveler, there is one person who doesn’t travel. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am incredibly privileged to travel the way I do and many aren’t in this position. However, I do think there are travelers at heart as well: people who are open-minded and excited to learn about new cultures and other ways of life. Sadly, some are not and the divide between me and those who stay at home, mentally or physically just seems to get bigger which each trip I take. I find it incredibly hard to deal with those people. I don’t want to show off, I don’t want to preach, but accepting someone else’s narrow horizon is the hardest thing I had to learn from traveling.

4. Atlas shrugged

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While we cannot see it all, we see a lot more than those who don’t travel. We realize that our own existence is only a small part of the world and that there is a much bigger picture to everything. That can be incredibly humbling and enlightening, but also quite scary. The world is not always a pretty place. Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed by the sorrow, the poverty, and the injustice that I see in certain places. More often than not I can do nothing about it yet I feel its weight on my shoulders. It is said ignorance is bliss, but travel often makes that impossible. While that can inspire me to spring into action, it also means I am often carrying a very heavy heart with me.

5. I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!

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Yes, the world is my oyster, but a damn big one at that. The more I see the more I realize that the world is too big to see it all. I don’t keep a bucket list for that reason because I would just have to keep adding places. In addition, I have favorites – I’m looking at you, Morocco! – and I can never get enough of them to cross them off the list for good. Knowing that even with all the money and time, I can never see it all, makes me quite sad.

6. I can’t get no satisfaction

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Hi, my name is Annika and I am addicted to traveling. When you travel much you tend to fall in love often. Not necessarily with other people, but with places, smells, experiences and, of course, Pad Thai.
Traveling is a wonderful drug and no, we don’t want to take the road to recovery, we want to take the road to the airport.
Once on the road, though, you will always want more and are seldom satisfied. After all, your comfort zone is constantly evolving and there is a whole world waiting to be discovered. The question is how and when to see it all? I usually end up being at multiple destinations at the same time: I book flights to Rio while lounging on a beach in Sri Lanka and plan a US road trip during a layover in London. Nothing wrong with multitasking, but I frequently feel I am not enjoying the now, the one place I am at. And with that, I seem to miss out on all of them.

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With all that said, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because there is also nothing more exciting than first stepping foot into a new country. Nothing beats the thrill of mastering public transport in a foreign city, that 20th sunset that still makes you gasp, asking a question in a new language and actually understanding the answer.

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So instead of hanging up my backpack and giving up on travels, I try to learn to stand still while moving. To enjoy each moment and each place as it comes. To accept that just like the rest of life, even this amazing thing called travel simply cannot always be perfect.

What do you struggle with on your travels? And how do you overcome it?

All images by Annika and Unsplash