There’s a certain caché to being the traveler amongst your family and friends. You’re known as the one with the wanderlust, the fearless one, the one who goes to exotic places and sees exotic landscapes and samples exotic foods and buys exotic shoes (or is that last one just me?). You’re world-savvy, maybe you can speak an extra language (or two), and you have the stamps in your passport or the miles on your car to prove it. Your mom wonders out loud how you can be constantly on the go, your sister looks at your thousands of photos and rolls her eyes, your co-workers can’t believe you’re planning another trip.
Yeah, that’s right. Caché. You know you love it, and that’s okay.
But there’s another side to being the woman with the wanderlust. It has its hazards, its drawbacks, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself bogged down by the biggest one. Here it is:
When you are the person with the most travel experience, everyone comes to you for tips, advice and…wait for it…to ask you to be a tour guide.
That’s all right, for the most part. I will be the first to admit that it’s fun to be an expert about something. And often, when you are passionate about something, you want to share that passion with others. To be asked for advice, or guidance, in that sense, is an honor. You’ve established your credentials and can help others experience the joys of travel.
It’s also fun to be a tour guide. I always enjoyed giving campus tours in high school and college, and I like giving out-of-town friends and family tours of my city when they come to visit. I don’t mind taking people on trips to places I have been before, in part because, by sharing their reactions, I can re-experience the joys of first discovery.
The drawback, however, is that when you’re being the tour guide, you’re not traveling for you. That’s the essence of being a Go Girl, after all: we seek out new experiences and places and people like it’s the only food that sustains us. That feeling of freedom, and independence, of making your own decisions about where to go and what to experience is part of what makes Go Girl travel so exhilarating. When you’re acting as a guide, however, you — in part — remove yourself from the equation. Suddenly, you’re not traveling to experience, you’re traveling to help someone else experience. Being so focused on the wants and needs and enjoyment of others means you ignore yours.
And while that can feel good, it can also hurt a little, somewhere deep inside, if you do it too much.
The key here, fellow wanderers, is to achieve balance. Want to share your love of Yellowstone with the family? Want to take your sister to Paris? That’s fantastic. You can have a wonderful trip, see everything through someone else’s eyes, awaken a desire to travel in someone who hasn’t had it before. Just make sure that your next trip is one that gets you back to your travel roots, so that you can feel that freedom and exhilaration again, and remember why traveling is such an integral part of your heart.