The Wanderlust Travel Style
There are many ways to travel and many reasons to do it. Some people travel by chance, some for choice, and some for work. Some people have a clear reason for traveling, while others have none. Nevertheless, each way of traveling comes with its own style. Though there are a variety of traveling styles, I want to explain what the wanderlust style is all about.
Wanderlust is a beautiful word for which we have no proper translation in my native tongue (Italian). The traveler who ventures in wanderlust style is guided by a constant state of wonder and a thirst for discovery of “the other”. Wonder and discovery are both exceptionally enriching human abilities that set us apart as a species and are the drive behind all arts and human knowledge. They are catalysts for artists, philosophers, scientists, and scholars, and when exercised in new lands and cultures, something beautiful is birthed. The mindset of wonder and the skill of discovery are ultimately what make our journeys interesting and special. As a wanderlust traveler, the venture is fueled by wonder and found in discovery. Without wonder, one cannot discover and without discovery, one cannot embrace wonder. You must have both elements to travel in true wanderlust style.
A Formative Experience: Inspiration For Wanderlust Travel
The inspiration for the wanderlust style is derived from travelers of the past, particularly the upper class and aristocracy of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century. During this time in history, if an individual wanted to complete his/her education and was of age, they would undertake a voyage abroad. These journeys lasted anywhere from 6 months to 3 years and were known as Grand Tours. Grand Tours were a fundamental step in the completion of one’s comprehensive education that included architecture, geography, and in-depth explorative encounters with other cultures. At this time, traveling was first and foremost a formative experience, a Bildungsreise.
These expeditions were carefully prepared using books, travel guides, and previous travel accounts. Then, itineraries were discussed and decided as attractions were carefully selected. Attractions were of particular importance, as they would be encounters that will set the atmosphere of the journey to form a person’s life-long attitudes, tastes, intellectual habits, and manners. Occasionally a ‘bear-leader’, or a guide who served as a tutor and a companion or guardian, would be hired to escort travelers on their ventures. Overall, a Grand Tour was an intense and immersive experience for an individual, meant to yield a more complex and sophisticated personality.
How I Travel Wanderlust Style
Understandably, I don’t have as much time as the travelers of the past had. But, I do share the same outlook that travel can serve as a powerful and shaping experience. This is ultimately what traveling in the wanderlust style is all about, having an outlook of wonder and discovery when approaching the voyage, curiously awaiting all that is coming and foreseeing it is likely to change you. When I embark on a new journey, I plunge into it and leave (metaphorically) everything behind me. I step into the adventure knowing I will encounter many things that will change me. I bring all that I have and all that I am into the open, ready to stretch myself to new horizons. I accept that I will be re-shaped and refined into a better person, and when I look back, I can see that the old me has evolved and transformed.
Before the Trip:
When I decide to take a trip, I start by reading stories and accounts of my destination. I especially love diaries, novels, and writings that allow me to see the location from another’s point of view. I read classic and contemporary authors because they all provide different perspectives that satisfy my desire to unearth the experience of a place through the eyes of another. I watch movies about my destination, I read blogs (Check out my ventures to Mallorca in Spain, Gran Sasso d’Italia in Italy, and Luxor in Egypt for great examples!), and sometimes can find someone who has first-hand experience to share. If I have a chance, I even try to immerse myself in the music, the scents, and the flavors of the culture beforehand.
These little actions serve two main purposes as I prepare for traveling wanderlust style. First, it allows me to make predetermined choices of what I want to experience and what I do not prefer. In essence, it helps me build my itinerary. Like the travelers of the past, every trip requires carefully choosing attractions to shape the trip’s tone. I usually know the atmosphere I am creating for my trip because of the research I have done and the second-hand stories I have joined into. These all help influence my choices because I am aware of what my heart needs. For instance, if I was captivated by another’s description of a painting they admired, then I will make time to check it out. Similarly, if I was previously intrigued by one’s recount of a dinner at a special place, I make sure to schedule a reservation. I aim to find a balance between checking out historic attractions, exploring nature, and enjoying local cuisine and the night life. I also make sure I partake in experiences that are outside of the main tourist streams. This allows me to create opportunity to genuinely come into contact with the place and the locals, giving me a better taste of the culture. It makes a significant difference when you give yourself time to see your location through the eyes of the people who live there. The second purpose that reading stories and accounts achieves is that it allows me to really understand and embrace what I do experience. This is because I enter my journey with prior knowledge, anecdotes, and curiosities that will come to life when I visit and create real life connection with my destination. This can be pivotal for traveling wanderlust style because it cultivates a special connection with your location that inherently opens you up to being reshaped and refined.
During the Trip:
When executing my trip, my itineraries are never rushed. I am not one to check off boxes on an invisible must-see list that someone has imposed on me. I give myself time to soak everything in, and trust that it doesn’t really matter if I don’t cover every hot spot in the country. What matters most is that I have time to absorb the experiences and can create memories. I make space to think about what I see, reason and talk about it, and maybe freeze it on paper or on film. Also helpful on the trip, I will occasionally follow the pattern of travelers of the past and hire a ‘bear-leader’. I have found that this can sometimes make or break the success of a wanderlust designed trip.
The Significance of Wanderlust Traveling
This style of travel is all about a wonder that inspires and leads to exploration. It is about weaving your story within the story you are exploring and learning so much that it shapes you in a syncretic and eclectic way. The journey of a wanderlust traveler is a spiritual and formative experience just as much as it is a mundane passage through lands and people. Along the way you learn that the focus is no longer on your destination, but instead on the journey. You begin to realize that your most significant moments are no longer external, but instead, are internal. This is because the truth is the wanderlust travel style is really about discovering your own soul as you encounter the world around you. Perhaps the most compelling element of this travel style is that the more you practice it, the more you realize it is not really a travel style at all. More appropriately, it is a way of life, because life is our longest journey.