When Travel Loses Its Thrill, Is It Time To Go Home?

by Jason -- August 26, 2010

I recently sent out the following message via Twitter: “I’m much less motivated to learn Indonesian than previous countries. A sign that travel has lost its lure? A sign it’s time to go home?” I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’ve been lazy in learning at least some basic Indonesian. But the main question I keep coming back to is, when travel loses its thrill, is it time to go home?

As we were planning our trip, we knew China was going to be one of our first destinations. To prepare, I worked on my Chinese with Rosetta Stone a few times a week for a couple months to try and learn at least some Chinese. When we got to Vietnam, the first thing I did was memorize how to count. It was exciting and fun.

Now, we’ve been in Indonesia for a week and I still don’t even know how to say thank you. And the only reason I know how to say hello is because “hello” is also Indonesian. English is spoken everywhere, so it’s not truly hurting our travel experience, but I feel like a bad traveler. Part of the fun and enjoyment for me in travel is learning at least some of the local language and trying to have them understand me. Does this change mean I’m taking travel for granted? Has travel lost its excitement?

The odd thing is that I’m still happy being here and am having a great time, but this life of constant travel seems so normal now. Perhaps, too normal? Travel has always been that special thing you look forward to once a year-counting down the days until you finally get to take off. It was the ice cream sandwich you look forward to after dinner.

It seems odd that I’ve made travel my everyday life to the point where I am now taking it for granted. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that after over 10 months of being on the road it’s not as exciting as it was at the beginning. Nonetheless, it’s a strange feeling.

Image credit: Morgan Leichter-Saxby

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6 Responses to “When Travel Loses Its Thrill, Is It Time To Go Home?”

  1. Dear heavens, I hope that feeling never happens to me. Too much of a good thing? I’m sure, though, when you get back to the US and some time passes, the urge to travel will become stronger than ever.

  2. Language is a funny thing. It may not mean that you are tired of traveling. However, it is very common that people who are not “linguists” per se, stop progressing or learning a language when they have reached the point where they can get by, get what they want/need, and are able to somewhat communicate with either rudimentary language skills of the country visited (or lived in!) or English.
    I had a Spanish teacher once (in Germany), who was an incredible teacher. His German was atrocious, and he was the first one to admit that it would never get better, because he was living in Germany fine. He spoke it fluently, albeit with lots of mistakes and a horrible accent, but it didn’t matter to him, also, because at home this family spoke Spanish. The only way to get away from this is to fully immerse oneself in the foreign language, i.e. no contact with people from our own culture/language background.
    Anyway, Jason’s mom is excited to see you guys next month. Enjoy the rest of your adventure.
    Carmen (Diane’s Jazzercise friend)

  3. could definitely see what you’re saying. Traveling has become your 9 to 5, but in a good way of course! Its the thing you get up to do everyday rather than get dressed, feed the dogs, sit at a desk, fight traffic,etc. Im sure the thrill with come back :) I’m so excited to see you guys!!! 30 days!!! :) yes, I have a countdown on my iphone for when I get to see you guys!! Maybe coming home for a bit might be your ice cream sandwich after dinner? :)

  4. Joe - I think you’re definitely right. Recharging the batteries at home for a bit will probably bring the urge to travel even more.

    Carmen - Very good point. We are getting by without any major problems here, which definitely doesn’t motivate me to learn Indonesian. As an aside, Sharon and I both laughed a little at your sign off as “Diane’s Jazzercise friend”. As a frequent commenter you’ve more than established your own identity as just Carmen :-).

    Holly - Haha…you always make us laugh! We’re really excited to see you too!

  5. Good post, good question! I know what you mean about travel becoming such an everyday thing, but I know we’d rather have our everyday be this than back in a cube :-) Don’t worry too much about the language learning - your brain can only take in so much language-related material at once, and you’re bound to hit plateaus often where you feel you’re not improving or learning at all, but you are! I think a trip home will definitely recharge the batteries. Have fun!!!

  6. Thanks! I’m looking forward to heading home and recharging the batteries, it feels like it’s time!

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