“It’s been a month since my last flight… Hi, my name’s Frankie and I’m a recovering travel addict.”

Ways to deal with seasickness

I woke up this morning and realised something scary. I don’t have my next trip booked. I don’t have any plans to leave the country where I now live. And I don’t know where my next journey will take me or if I’ll even go abroad again this year.

It wasn’t a conscious decision not to travel this year, it’s just that work and life and moving apartments is keeping me in one place for now.

And yet, I find myself still thinking, talking and dreaming about travel on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis.

The odds, of course, are good that I will go abroad again before the year is over, possibly more than once. Furthermore, living in a country I wasn’t born in still means I’m exposed to the new, the challenging and the peculiarly foreign nearly every day. Yet, the travel addict in me still frowns and chews her lip a bit at the thought that I don’t have my next trip planned.

Today I’d like to share some of my thoughts about what I’ve learnt about travel as a recovering travel addict and “former” nomad. Maybe you relate to some of these observations… if you do I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

It’s not you, travel. It’s me.

Top of Table Mountain Cape Town - By Frankie Thompson

In the last five years my relationships with travel has changed.

Four years ago I lived in London, a city I had called home for most of my life and I was torn between climbing the corporate ladder and chasing my dream of writing stories for a living, preferably while seeing more of the world. I squeezed weekends away in between work and I counted down the days to my summer beach holiday.

Three years ago I was enjoying my fifth month of nomadic travel. I was in Thailand having spent the last two months exploring Australia and New Zealand. I’d also begun the first draft of my first book.

Two years ago I was living in Morocco having just spent five weeks travelling around Finland, Sweden and Norway with my snowboard and thermals. I was also six months away from publishing my first book.

One year ago I was on my way to Thailand for a holiday, blissfully unaware that the Amsterdam apartment I would return to would stay my home for a total of eighteen months despite us only agreeing to stay for half a year. I was six months away from publishing my second book.

Amsterdam - by Frankie Thompson

And now I’m still living in Amsterdam. I’ve just signed a new lease for another apartment for at least another 12 months and I don’t know where my next adventure will take me, or if there will be one. What’s most strange about that last statement is that I’m okay with all of this.

The conclusion, therefore, is that I’ve changed and I will continue to change. My opinions will shift. My circumstances will change. My likes and dislikes will alter. So will my hopes and dreams.

While I’ve spent much of the last fifteen years of my life chasing the next journey, holiday, adventure, I now spend my days either reflecting on journeys I’ve already taken and what they taught me about myself and the world (often then putting them in one of my short stories), or I spend my time chasing goals that aren’t directly connected to travel.

I want to write books.

I want to host my family, my friends and even friends of friends and show them this city I love.

With a good friend in Amsterdam - Frankie Thompson

I want to fill my house with vintage furniture from flea markets.

I want to have babies and tell them stories about what mum and dad did on their travels around the world.

I want to have a dog. A small one that wants to sit on my lap for cuddles.

I want to read two books a week because it makes me a better writer and person.

I want to make my own bread by hand, and preferably for it to be edible.

I want to spend my Sunday mornings drinking tea and writing lists of things to do and then spending the rest of the week ignoring them.

Time for tea - by Frankie Thompson

I want to plant seeds for herbs and then see them grow and then proudly throw them into the dishes I make.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, God, she’s old. She wants to settle down.”

And you’re right, I am and do. Whatever that means.

But that doesn’t mean I want to stop travelling. I never want to stop travelling.

The funny thing is I don’t feel like I have, or ever will.

I just think I need to  take a break… or simply change how travel and I hang out in the future.

Travel is about more than leaving on a jet plane

Reflection - by Frankie Thompson

I don’t know when I realised that “travel” is about more than trains, planes and automobiles, but it was an important realisation.

Travel is about going from one place to another. In my mind this can be as metaphoric as it can be literal. I am constantly moving from one place to another. And I bet you are too.

When I read a good book I am a different person after I finish it.

When I spend a day with one of my best friends putting the world to rights I feel altered in a “my cheeks hurt from laughing and talking” kind of way.

When I do some research for a project I’m working on for a client and I learn more about something completely foreign in almost the same way that a walking tour of a city educates and enlightens me. Almost…

When I go for a long bike ride, my legs are firmer (and my bottom is more sore) than before.

I am constantly going from one place to another. We all are. Life is not a sedentary thing. Even if you feel like you’re stuck in one place, you’re not. Every day that passes you have the great potential to change. Even if you don’t feel like your thoughts, opinions and beliefs change, look at your body now compared to ten years ago. Your body is travelling all the time. It’s its very own travelling capsule. Don’t forget that soul and mind are too.

I’m not sure if this realisation gives you comfort. Of course, I’d much rather be on a beach in Thailand or snowboarding down a mountain in Canada than looking at how much wobblier my thighs are compared to a decade ago, but I do find reminding myself that “Life is a Journey” a comforting thought. It eases the worst of my travel withdrawal symptoms.

To be nomadic or not? That is the question.

Palm Tree by Frankie Thompson

The biggest difference in my life in the last 18 months is the switch from a nomadic lifestyle to essentially becoming an expat. I haven’t changed how I work as a freelance copywriter and indie author, I’m still location independent. I just now choose to stay in one place. (You can read about my first year as a digital nomad here, and you can find out what changed in year two here.)

If I wanted to leave tomorrow and spend another two years managing my business on the road, I could… albeit at the cost of a temporary storage unit.

If I wanted to do my job in Australia or Zanzibar, I could. As long as I had an Internet connection and the appropriate visa.

Yes, I know how lucky that makes me.

But right now, I’m choosing to be in one place and that one place is Amsterdam.

Yes, I know that still makes me crazy lucky, but there’s still a small part of me that feels guilt that I’m not taking full advantage of my location independent status.

Are you the same? Do you feel guilty when you could be travelling but choose not to?

Home (and away) is where the heart is

Sunset on the island of Hvar - by Frankie Thompson

I think it’s wrong for any traveller to judge another traveller based on how, when or how often they travel.

I hang my head in shame when I admit that in the past I have been guilty of this.

I once met a woman at a travel conference who spent approximately seven months of a year travelling for a mixture of pleasure and work. She has a husband, a dog, a cat, two goldfish and a beautiful home in the south of England. At the time I was nomadic myself and I asked her why she also wasn’t location independent seeing as her husband often travelled with her and so organising pet- and house-sitters often became a logistical nightmare that cost them a lot of money. Her reply stopped me in my tracks.

“Gosh, no. I couldn’t be. I need to have a home. A place I can always return to. I love having a home.”

Her love of having a home didn’t detract from her desire to travel and vice-versa. It seemed naive that I hadn’t thought that this was possible before. And it seemed downright prejudiced that I should judge anyone’s approach to travel for not being enthusiastic or committed enough if it didn’t resemble something similar to my own.

Now I think I’m finally starting to understand that this woman’s way of life is the nicest way to be. In many ways, her life is the most literal definition of “having your cake and eating it.”

What do you think? Is having a home as important as having a world to explore? I think I’m starting to realise that for me it is.

Journeys don’t have to be longhaul to be significant

Boat rides Amsterdam - Frankie Thompson

When I think about the trips I’ve made in the last year, it’s been the short ones that stand out as much in my mind as the long ones.

My weekend in the east of the Netherlands staying with a friend’s family was just as relaxing and memorable as the city breaks I took to Ljubljana, Linz and Lisbon.

My trips to Rotterdam  – just forty minutes away – were just as interesting and culturally rich as the time I spent in Cape Town.

My summertime bike rides around Amsterdam’s parks and the sunny boat rides around Amsterdam’s canals left me just as brown as a luxurious week in Morocco.

You don’t have to travel abroad – or spend a ton of money – to feel like you’ve been away.

You don’t have to go that far to go on a journey.

Keep Calm and Travel On… and Off

Frankie Cycling in Netherlands

The key thing this recovering travel addict has realised is that travel doesn’t have to be a big part of your life to be an important part of your life. As the saying goes, less is more.

Perhaps if I take fewer trips I will value the ones I do go on more.

Perhaps if I take a long break from travel, when I do eventually depart once more I will feel a renewed sense of excitement, anticipation and joy, like I haven’t felt for years.

Perhaps the longer I don’t travel, the longer I will have to really think about where I want to go and what I want to do, and I will make wiser decisions.

Perhaps it’s time for my approach to travel to focus not on quantity, but on quality.

I can’t wait…

Now tell me your stories…

Do you travel less than you used to? Would you say that you are a recovering travel addict too? What do you think about a life of less travel? Is it natural to travel less as you grow older?

Do you agree that you can still love travel without always travelling, either by choice or circumstance? How long have you gone without travelling? Was it all doom and gloom? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

All photos by Frankie except the first image, by Alex Saint.


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.