Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday: The Paradox of Choice

Happy Hump Day everyone! 

I still can't believe it's already October, which means our big trip to Turkey and Israel is just over a month away! Even though this trip is something I've been wanting to do for ages, I still don't think it's hit me yet that we're actually going! So in order to help get myself mentally ready, I've decided I'm going to take Wednesdays this to really focus on travel-related posts.

Get excited. 



Travel is a huge passion for me. Last year when I was living in Colorado, I had the opportunity to work at a travel-store which was a really fun experience. People would come in to the store I worked at in Boulder, CO buy things like converters/adapters, money belts, guidebooks, suitcases and other items, primarily for international trips. It was great because I'd get to talk to them about where they were going and I really enjoyed getting to hear their stories. Working there definitely added quite a few destinations to my Wanderlust List, the name I've given to the mental list I keep of places that I'd like to visit one day. The list is quite long, but here are some of the places near the top: 

-Israel/Turkey booked!
-Thailand
-Slovenia/Croatia
-Boston
-Argentina
-Nepal
-Hawaii
-Ireland/Scotland
-Banff, AB
-Spain/Portugal
-Greece
-Vermont/Maine/the Northeast
-Costa Rica
-Italy/France (again)
-China
-New Zealand
-Vancouver
-Cabo San Lucas
-Norway
-Peru/Machu Picchu

There are many more places I'd like to visit, but those are just a few off the top of  my head. The problem is that with the limited vacation time that we get in the US, it's tough to actually make seeing a lot of these places a reality, particularly for Cam and I since our families both live out of state and we like using our vacation time to go see them. But still the itch to get out and see the world remains...


Something that's frequently on my mind is this idea of the paradox of choice when it comes to travel. I feel like in order to see all the places I'd like, we'd really need to take significant time off to travel and/or move overseas. And while that would be awesome, there are also downsides. For me it's really hard to reconcile my intense need to get out an explore the world with my desire to invest in my relationships here at home and feel like I'm part of a community. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

 
 On one hand, I read so many ex-pat blogs about couples who have moved overseas and at least 3 times a week I tell Cam we should move out of the US for a bit just to experience another part of the world. In the same way that living out West has allowed us to see so much of Northern California, I feel like moving over to Europe or some other place for awhile would be an incredible experience. All the ex-pat blogs I read are so amazing; they're always traveling around and going to cool places and it just makes me want to get out and do that! We are on a month to month lease with the house we rent, we don't have kids (with the exception of Lola), and there is really nothing tying us down. Yes of course we both have jobs here in the US, but people take breaks from their career/find new jobs, so it's not like it's impossible. We could totally move abroad for a year, travel around, and I just feel like the time to do that would be now. Plus, the idea of living in another country for awhile really appeals to me. While you definitely get a sense of culture when you go on a vacation, to really get to know a place and it's people, you need to spend more time there. To be able to have a home base overseas and really get to experience another way of life would be incredible to me. I just feel like it's something that Cam and I would absolutely love and I just feel like why not? Why sit here and let life pass us by, why not just do it?!


At the same time, there are a lot of downsides that run through my mind when I start thinking about this grand plan. For one, we'd be really far away from our families and get to see them even less than we do now which would be hard. It's tough not to feel a little bit disconnected from our loved ones due to the fact that we live out here in Tahoe and only get to see them a few times a year, so I imagine moving overseas would make it even worse. We're also finally starting to get a little settled here in Tahoe and make friends, and it's nice to have more of a sense of community here finally. Even though I know we will probably move out of Tahoe eventually, the thought of just completely uprooting is tough. I also have a lot of friends who are getting married and starting to have kids and so just leaving our life here in the US would be challenging. Not to mention the fact that I know moving overseas and the expenses and travel that come along with it would pretty much drain the decent savings we've built over the past few years. We couldn't just move abroad for a year or two, and then come back to the US and buy a house right away as we'd essentially be back to square one with our savings. We'd probably have to find new jobs, we'd be back to living in an apartment when we returned, and it would definitely alter the timeline of other things we'd like to accomplish in the future.

  
Pros and cons. 

Life is full of choices, and I'll admit sometimes it causes me anxiety. My fellow twenty-somethings and I were raised by a generation of overly-supportive parents who told us we could be anything when we grew up. And as awesome as that is, it's also stressful to think about you can really do whatever you want with your life. That's daunting. Because when you make a choice to take one career path or live in a particular city, you're essentially missing out on the opportunity to do/live somewhere else.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not (or at least I don't want to be) one of those people who's constantly thinking other people's lives are so much better or that the grass is always greener somewhere else because that's totally not how I feel. I definitely hold the line of thinking that you can bloom where you're planted, and I've thoroughly enjoyed all the places we've lived over the past few years because I've tried to really focus on the positives about each place.

 Because that's another thing I've learned, no place is perfect. Every city, state, and country has both good and bad about living there. And as awesome as living over in Europe sounds in my head, I know that there are downsides to deal with.


I guess for me, my whole struggle is more with timing then anything else. Cam and I are 25 and not ready to have kids just yet. So part of me feels like if we were ever going to do something crazy like quit our jobs, move to a foreign country and teach English or do something random, now would be the time while we don't have anything really tying us down. I met tons of people when we lived in Boulder who did just that, and I'd constantly talk to people at the travel store who were moving overseas. I also got the chance to meet a fair number of people who had moved overseas for a time, and were back in the US and everyone always raved about what an amazing experience it was. In the same way that we never regret money or time we spend traveling, I think that moving abroad would be the same way and we'd be really glad we did it.


But at the same time, are we going to be completely miserable if we don't?

Hardly.

We have been having so much fun here in Tahoe and part of me is just ready to hurry up and get in to that whole house-buying/kid-having phase. Because it is something both Cameron and I are very excited for. I love the idea of owning a home and being able to fix it up and decorate it how we want. I like the idea of living in a place for longer than a year and really being able to be invested in my community. To not constantly have to be looking for a new doctors or hairstylists because we're always moving around. To be able to consistently attend a church and not be on the go every single weekend. To have raise kids that feel like they have a sense of place and have a hometown that they're from. These are all I'm really looking forward to and there is a part of me that's like forget this whole travel thing, let's just get going on all this getting settled stuff now!


But then I'll get an email from STA Travel or Travelzoo talking about far-off places and I'm right back to dreaming about planning our next adventure. So as excited as I am for the future, I'm not ready for it yet and I know that. I still love being on the go all the time, jumping in the car on a Friday and driving to spend the weekend somewhere new. I am so so excited for our trip next month and I want to continue to get out and see the world. I'm thankful that Cam and I have the time, money, and mutual passion and get to do all of it together.


So I guess where I'm at with everything is I'm open. If things were to fall into place for us to move abroad, I would be all for it. At the same time, I'm not going to force it and I'm just going to go with the flow. There are pros and cons about moving overseas, and there are also pros and cons about staying here in the US. If we were to get to have an opportunity to move before we have kids and do more international travel, awesome. However, if we don't it's ok too. And, it's not like that before we have kids is the only time we could ever live abroad. I know lots of families live overseas with their kids and feel that experience is very positive.



Basically there is no real point to this post besides me just wanting to ramble about my random thoughts today, so if you're still reading this thanks! I'm not trying to sound too self-absorbed or whiny because I realize this whole topic is very much #firstworldproblems. Being like "Should my husband and I move to Europe for a year or should we stay in the mountains in Lake Tahoe? I'm so stressed, my life is so hard!" is super annoying I realize. I'm thankful to have a life where I do have choices. Although being able to choose any path you want it life can be overwhelming sometimes, I'd much rather take that than the alternative. I just want to make sure I'm making the most of my time here and to see as much of this world as I can. So whether that means occasionally taking a vacation or moving halfway around the globe, only time will tell. I more or less wanted to just share my thoughts, and be able to come back a year from now, five years from now, and read how I was feeling today.


I promise next week's Wanderlust Wednesday post will be a little more focused and not so rambly. But today it just felt good to talk. Have a happy Wednesday friends! Xoxo

PS: All images via Pinterest

8 comments:

  1. Scotland is AMAZING - so glad it made your list :) I've been itching to travel more too. Right now Germany is at the top of my list.

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  2. oh I love everything about this! My manfriend and I spend a lot of time traveling, but I've spent most of my time living in CA. After visiting Portland this weekend to see his family we pretty much decided that we're going to make a big move in a 1-1/12 years. I need to get out and see more!

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  3. I've always wanted to give everything up and move somewhere else, but it's so hard logistically. Like, it's impossible not to think about it rationally and think about costs and expenses. It's just so hard. But get over to the NE girl!

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  4. My boyfriend's sister lives in Tel aviv if you need any recommendations for your trip! I went to India this Spring and can't wait to get overseas again. Great post- and blog :)

    Rachel

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  5. Jane, you don't have to worry about sounding whiny or self-indulgent. Far from it. You wrote a really thoughtful post about Life and choices and no matter what our ages, I think most of us can relate to wondering, "what if..." Thanks for sharing,
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss blog)

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  6. I KNOW this feeling!!! Although I am an expat living overseas I get antsy all of the time about travelling more and even the possibility of moving somewhere that's new for both of us for a few years... like Southeast Asia or Dubai or Europe. Like you said, it just seems like if there is ever a time to do it that time is now :)

    That being said, I also have a lot of thoughts about settling down, buying a house, thinking about having some bebes, and the possibility of moving back the the States at some point to be closer to my family.

    And like you... I'm open! We can only see where life takes us and work towards more manageable goals like taking really cool vacations while we have the time and freedom :)

    Now I'm babbling... but put simply... I'm with you 100% girl and totally feel you on this one :)

    Luckily we're both fortunate to have men in our lives that also share our passion for travel!

    xxx
    Jenna

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  7. My boyfriend and I talk constantly about picking up, leaving the States for a year or two, and living abroad. He just turned 28; I'm just a few months short of 25. If we're going to go, it needs to happen before there's a mortgage and progeny to tie us down.

    But then I begin to worry. What about money? What about jobs? What will I do for a living? What will he do for a living? Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" made it all look so easy. If only I had a book advance to pay for my travels...

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  8. I just took trips to both Boston and Cabo San Lucas and you will love them! I had such a great time!

    Scotland/Ireland are on my list, too!

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Your sweet words make my day! :)

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