Travel on Hold: When Life Gets in the Way of Wandering Priorities

When I was 18, I sat in the Atlanta Airport, waiting to board a flight to Milan. I was bound for a study abroad month in Sorrento. As I sat with a bundle of nerves and excitement over my first travels abroad alone, an elderly Italian woman mirrored my emotions. She appeared nervous about the impending flight, confused over the announcements in English that she clearly did not understand. Yet, she seemed excited, thrilled about the prospect of returning to a land that speaks her language in more ways than one. She innocently offered me some sort of Italian candy. I know we are told at a young age to never take candy from strangers outside of Halloween, but I couldn’t resist. It was a moment where we bonded over our common emotions about travel. If this sweet Italian woman was feeding me poison, at least I would die traveling.

Sorrento Sunset

In that brief instant at the gate, we broke candy and sat in that moment. Travel was just across the jetway. Recently I have been drawn back to this moment at 18 years old. That was my life at that moment, solely focused on travel and where it was going to lead me. Little did I know, that this trip would spur others to Italy that would eventually take me to the life I face beginning now. With my wedding just over four months away, life has detoured the ways of my traveling soul. The details of getting married can be all consuming, leaving me searching for save the dates and wedding cake vendors instead of flights and hotels. Living has clouded the importance that I place on travel in my life, career and existence. 

I am not the only one that feels this way. I receive emails frequently asking how to make travel work with money, with a career or with a fixed home. Frankly it isn’t easy to juggle life and travel, especially when a major event in one’s life is just four months away. Life can always get in the way of travel, whether it be a job that ties us down, kids that keep us in a routine or a lack for funds. I am stuck in limbo until the wedding details subside and I can focus on travel again. In an effort to gain some clarity, to take travel off of the hold button, here’s how my traveling soul plans on surviving those four months when life is in the way.

When travel gets clouded

When travel gets clouded

It’s the little trips

When major life events are road-blocking travels, you have to focus in on the little trips. In just over a month, I plan on exploring Chicago, a city I strangely have never been to, unless you count layovers at O’Hare. Sure, this isn’t a round-the-world adventure but I hope the little traveling stint will bring me back to a clearer traveling mind. If you have a free weekend in the midst of major life events and on goings, take a little trip. It might be small and inconsequential to other travelers, but it will recharge the traveling agenda and give a small sense of clarity. It has been a long time since I didn’t travel for a set purpose. I know that I was starting to lose that wander that only wanderlust can lend. To deal with the problem, I am taking a trip that doesn’t make sense in all of the wedding details, but one I know will recharge these travel batteries. I plan on throwing in a few of these little trips each month until August.

It's not the Eiffel Tower but at least it's something new.

It’s not the Eiffel Tower but at least it’s something new.

Spend time planning the big trip every day

If travel is nowhere near the horizon for you, the mind can grow clouded with the details of life. I know this to be true, but I am gaining some clearness by focusing on my dream trip, even if it is over four months away. For the month of September, I will explore the Greek Islands and revisit Sicily. It seems a long way off when you never think about it. If you have a big trip months away or just the dream of one in the distant future, plan it. Set aside time each and every day to leave life behind and research travel instead. This will keep the traveling soul as balanced as it can be in life limbo.

 Greece travel planning

Relive what travel once felt like

Some people wait a lifetime to begin traveling. They wait until their kids have grown old and the funds are finally there. I am merely waiting four months until I will be back at full travel speed. I know that once I touch down in Greece, I will be back in that travel rhythm so much so that I might ache for those comforts of my own bed at home or a more routine day. The grass is always greener when it comes to traveling and not traveling. I keep that thought in my mind in order to get through these days and months not focused on travel. If you are in a travel drought, only you can change it. You won’t make changes if you don’t relive what travel once felt like. Emotions are always what spur travel. Life gets in the way that you forget that exchange with the Italian woman over nerves and excitement. In the meantime, I will relive those moments until I am in the midst of them yet again. 

Remember this moment...

Remember this moment…

How do you deal with those time periods when travel is not a priority in your life?


  1. says

    We turned our wedding into a travel opportunity, we shot off to Sri Lanka for the wedding and Maldives for the honeymoon. But I know what you mean, I’m just coming out of the babies and little kids phase, we had to slow it down for a while, although we’ve still taken plenty of short holidays, the boys had been to 5 continents before the eldest was 7. To be honest, we were too busy to be thinking about long term travel much, but when I did, it physically hurt sometimes. I really, really want to do some big treks in the Himalayas and take on India again, I’m not sure how that will work out, but we’ll give it a go. Best wishes for your wedding Suzy, have a fabulous day.

  2. says

    Nice article, Suzy. This is a difficult one, but I think your approach is just right. It doesn’t have to be a big trip to Paris to see the Eiffel tower to be exciting! Those little trips can be just as important (if not perhaps moreso, as expectations tend to be lower, meaning more chance of being pleasantly surprised!). Good luck with all the planning!

  3. The Wanderfull Traveler says

    Im just getting out of one of those droughts – heading to Toronto next week for a business trip with my dad (we work together).
    Unfortunately all this year holds are those small trips but next year I’m going to France.
    This year ill be focusing on honing my skills as a writer within Canada (with a few side trips just over the border).
    Sometimes rediscovering home can be just as fulfilling.

    Congrats on your wedding and planning.
    Is Greece your honeymoon destination?


  4. says

    Some times I wish I could travel 24×7. When I get the travel itch and have not been away from home in awhile, I will try a new ethnic restaurant. Temporary solution for sure.

  5. says

    Suzy I agree with you on the backyard trips – just take a different route to or from work – and you’ll find something new. “-)

    While you may not make it to Greece, Romania, Thailand (etc…) this year, remember that there are folks there who know nothing of your town and would probably find your street to be pretty interesting.

  6. says

    This year is in total flux for me, and I have no idea if I will be able to do much traveling beyond traveling in California (which is great, too). Since having kids, I have to put real travel on the back burner sometimes. I do what you do–research future trips, take trips close to home or even explore my own city…and I remember that many people don’t get to travel. Some of my students tell me that their dream is to go to Europe one time in the lives. That puts it in perspective. I blog because I plan to do it for the long-haul, and when I’m not traveling, I write about other aspects of travel and tourism that are interesting to me.
    Good luck wedding planning. :)

  7. says

    Hi Suzy,
    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It is hard to put travel aside to focus on earning money for the next big trip, or life events that take priority. I think taking shorter trips is the perfect way to find the balance and refresh your wanderlust. Chicago is one of my favorite cities, I hope you have fun exploring! Don’t forget to try some Giordano’s pizza, it’s my favorite of the Chicago style pies :)

  8. says

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who struggles to juggle life with travel. Ideally, I’d travel every month but that’s just not realistic. You have some great tips there, I would also add exploring your own town. I believe I don’t need to leave where I am to discover new things: I’ll visit a farmer’s market, try a new restaurant, ride a bike in a park I’ve never been to…all of these things require the same spirit of adventure as travelling across the world, and it makes me more grateful for where I am rather than always wishing I was somewhere else!

  9. says

    I was just thinking about this today, Suzy, having recently moved to the Seattle area and focusing on finding a job before I can even think about traveling. I daydream about visiting Vancouver and Portland, only a few short hours away or a day trip to San Francisco (apparently people do that here). With my limited budget, however, travel simply isn’t an option for me now. What I’m doing instead is exploring my home city and state as best as I can, trying to make each excursion an adventure.

  10. says

    I really enjoyed reading that. It reminded me a bit of myself in the not too recent past.

    Travel is like a drug. It’s very hard to let go. Even when we think it’s the wrong time or just not possible at the moment, we always find a way.

    Great hey? If you’re going to be addicted to anything, let it be this!

  11. says

    Congrats on your upcoming wedding! Much better and bigger news than any mere trip ever could be. Glad you are focusing on that and letting some other travels wander into your schedule, and your memory. Very cool perspective on this particular point in your life. Have fun!

  12. says

    I think you pretty much nailed it with how to cope with life getting in the way of traveling how we want to. I’ve definitely felt this way, and it has been ongoing since last spring since an illness in my family made me cancel my trip to South America. Since then, I haven’t been able to properly leave the continent as I would have liked, and I had to make do with the short trips and day dreaming of past and future travels. Then school took over my life, and there’s not much more to say about that.
    Thankfully, this dry spell is nearing an end for me; I leave for the Caribbean on Friday (and from there I have almost 2 months in Europe, Russia and Mongolia)!
    The strange thing is that after all the years I’ve been traveling alone, it may be that I’ve never been this nervous about my upcoming travel plans. It could be age, or it could be the fact that it has just been so long since I slung a backpack on and went where my heart took me. I’m definitely nervous, but I’m also completely confident that this will be 100% good for the soul. As always.

  13. says

    I have a work full time so I always have to plan travel carefully and I agree with you it does not always have to be a big trip and the planning part is a lot of fun as well neither of these can of course beat getting married :) Congratulations again with your upcoming wedding.

  14. says

    Suzy, such are the tapestries of life, right? I mean, there’s the ideal travel life but we all go through our ups and downs. Whether it’s kids, money, work – but like you said, “It’s the little trips”. At least that’s how I deal with those times. Love your blog!

  15. says

    Planning big trips in detail and traveling locally meanwhile are my favorite tips here. They are ways that have supported me too when I wanted to travel far away and it wasn’t the best option for the moment. Congrats on your upcoming wedding – I hope the wedding date comes by fast so that you can travel big again :)


  1. […] Travel on Hold: When Life Gets in the Way of Wandering Priorities Suzy Guese talks about those time periods when travel is not a priority in your life. How do you keep the passion for travel burning when you’re not on the road as much as you used to? […]

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