The Itch to Travel

I’m contemplating going on a solo adventure this summer.

streets of Prague

I.e. taking a trip by myself. Which I can’t say I’ve ever done. So maybe that in itself is a reason to do it.

I’ve been thinking back on past adventures recently, various countries and cultures I’ve encountered, explored, and experienced. I’ve been thinking about the distinct sense of joy I’ve felt on those trips. I wouldn’t say it’s the deepest joy I’ve felt––that allocation is reserved for the fiercely intimate moments I’ve shared with God–-but it is a distinct joy, a feeling of being fully alive, like anything is possible.

It’s a feeling that could perhaps be simulated by walking the ten minutes to the beach near my house or by hopping on my bike and riding down an unfamiliar path. But there are added dimensions on international trips: the unforeseen detours, unpredictable people, the larger-than-usual space for disaster, the lack of belongings and commitments tethering you down, the sudden and immediate dependence you often have on complete strangers.

Some things that bring me similar heart-fluttering joy:

  • DSCF3860
    brilliant sunshine on Jeju Island

    When the beauty of nature takes me by surprise: brilliant sunshine bursting through clouds, for instance.

  • Gaining sudden clarity about something which was previously murky. Having that lightbulb go off.
  • Being genuinely surprised and/or touched by a plot twist in a movie or book.
  • Hearing a certain piece of music in a certain moment that makes me understand life differently.

The awe and excitement of these moments can probably best be described as “feeling inspired.” It’s different from the delight I have in tasty food, the satisfaction I get from doing something well, or even the flutter and warmth of being loved.

Austrian fountain

The moments listed above touch the adventurer in me, the part of me always seeking something new, something I’ve never seen before. The part of me itching to go somewhere this summer, somewhere I’ve never been.

There is another part of me, which warns against a solo trip. That is the cautious pragmatist. It’s the part of me saying a trip would be too expensive, too far away, and too much trouble. It says that I don’t need to go anywhere to experience the fullness of life. It’s all around me all the time! You’re just thrill seeking, it says. Explore the country you already live in instead.

And then there’s that nagging voice called fear. It says I might not have any fun. I might not meet anyone interesting or see anything inspiring. I might get bored. Or not like the food. I might even get robbed or experience something truly terrible.

So it’s two to one: Caution and Fear against the Adventurer. But I think the Adventurer is stronger. Even as I’m writing this, I’m remembering: I was made to explore. And this is the perfect time in my life to do it.

Ah, traveling.

the bottom of the Eiffel Tower

Seeing new sights, smelling new smells, encountering unfamiliar customs that force you to be more attentive to the way you interact with people. Foreign surroundings making mundane commonalities seem like treasures. The unexpected pleasure of seeing famous things up close and discovering little corners of the Universe you never knew existed. Putting yourself in the way of happenstance and opening yourself to something outside the ordinary. Traveling, I think I’m willing to put in the time, money, and energy to make you happen this summer.


If anyone has suggestions for places to visit (the closer to Korea, the more convenient), I am open to ideas!



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After living in South Korea for over 7 years, Elizabeth is back in the States finding a new normal. Currently in seminary, she is enjoying unpacking questions of faith in a new context. Amidst the tension of brokenness and conviction, she continues to find grace. And above all else, she continues to pursue the God who inspires childlike wonder.

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