A strong desire to travel. That is the official definition of wanderlust. But those who truly have wanderlust know that it is much more than just a strong desire. It is a need. A yearning in the heart for places that you have never seen, and people that you have never met. It is a dream to not just visit the tourist spots, but to dive in deeper. Breathe in a culture. Eat the local food and drink at the local pub. Take the dusty backroads to the small towns that aren’t on a map. Ride the city buses and fumble through the language barriers. Those with wanderlust do not have a bucketlist because no list is able to contain them. They want to experience everything. Every possible smell, taste, sight, and sound. Be immersed in a sensory overload every single day. That is truly wanderlust.
I suppose I have always felt this way, I just never had the words to describe it. Growing up, it’s okay to want to work with children and become a teacher or to become a doctor and want to save lives. It’s okay to want to own a business or to learn a trade. But to grow up and become a traveler? That’s not a job. It’s a hobby. It’s something you do during a summer at college. You grow up, get a job, buy a house, place roots, and settle down. Take vacations, then resume regular life. But why are we expected to live a life that we need a vacation from?
Two events pushed my family into deciding it was time for us to live life the way that we want to. It was around this time last year that my father-in-law was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors said that he had a few months to a year left to live. Only 60-something years old. This man who had worked hard his entire life, raised five children, and built a retirement for himself and my mother-in-law was now told he was not going to be able to enjoy his golden years. Today he is in his second round of treatment with aggressive chemotherapy. There are now multiple tumors, but he is strong and won’t give up without a fight. It’s in those moments that we are reminded how short life truly is. What a gift we are given, and that we must use everyday that we have to do what we enjoy doing. Because none of us know how long we have. And I don’t want to have regrets.
The other minor event that happened during this same time period was that I was passed over for a promotion at work. It wasn’t the fact that I was upset about not getting the job. It was the fact that I put my everything into my job for almost 13 years, and I realized that it was never going to be appreciated. That’s not the way the business world worked. It didn’t matter how much extra work I took on or how many late hours I spent. It didn’t matter that I worked through my sons first 13 years of life, sometimes missing school events or not being home with him when he was sick. I was just a number. Just a cog in the machine. But that’s not me. I needed something more fulfilling. We as a family needed something more fulfilling.
As a family, we had tried to take a vacation every year. We had been to Scotland, Disney World, NYC, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, Tennessee, a few staycations in Wisconsin, and South Dakota. But we wanted to travel with no time constraints and on a small budget. We decided what we needed to do was travel in a camper and spend a year exploring the entire USA. We also decided that we would document our journey so that others could follow along with us.
And we knew it was time.