It’s been years since I first experienced it. My first overseas trip was for a study abroad opportunity in college. I went to Oviedo, Spain (in Asturias, near the northern coast) and lived with an eccentric, if not crazy, host mother by the name of Angeles. I studied Spanish by weekday and explored on the weekends. After four months I was ready to return home, that having been the longest time I’ve spent away, but it wasn’t long after that I began to develop that pesky little problem seasoned travelers know well – The Itch.
For two years, The Itch ceased to disappear with the brutal reality that I couldn’t afford to travel. I could barely pay my rent each month, let alone afford an expensive plane ticket to somewhere exotic. But The Itch doesn’t care about reality, and it doesn’t dissipate when you try to relieve it with the calm understanding of “Not now. Maybe later.” Instead, it gets louder. It becomes so painful that you can’t take it anymore. Soon, you’re researching enticing getaways, from the southern coastline of Argentina to the high peaks of Tibet and everything in your body (and your more-than-amazing group of friends) is saying, “Just go. You only live once.”
But here’s the problem: When you scratch the itch, it still doesn’t go away. It just gets worse. Mine has become so bothersome that it even approaches me while I am traveling! After three or four months in Thailand, I was counting the days for my next big adventure. My feet began to dance around my tiny wooden hut as I became restless from remaining in one place for so long, and antsy with anticipation of my upcoming two months of escapades around Southeast Asia.
When I returned to Oregon, I stayed for less than three months. I admit my departure was a bit premature – I wasn’t quite ready for the next stop yet; the newness of home had yet to wear off – but my wallet was empty and an opportunity to teach presented itself far too easily. So I snatched it. I knew that if I didn’t, in one more month I’d be kicking myself with regret and searching for a way, any way, to get out of my beloved hometown.
Now, I’ve been in China not quite four months and I’m rearing for another adventure. It sounds selfish, I know. I’m living in Asia, teaching English to an amazing group of kids at a job that requires only 20 hours a week for a paycheck more than twice that of the locals, and includes two months of paid holiday. Two months! But perhaps that’s why The Itch is back. I’ve known these two months were approaching, and that they’d be here before I knew it. I knew this back when I was battling homesickness and fighting with China, so I booked my ticket to India.
With the prospect of a new adventure looming not far in the future, my spirits were lifted. I knew I didn’t need to go home, I just needed to satisfy The Itch. Sometimes a plane ticket is all it takes…at least for a little while.
Tomorrow, I fly into Delhi. Five weeks later, I fly out of Chennai. The middle is to be filled with camel rides in the desert, yoga in the mountains, and Couchsurfing with locals, but all the details are up for debate. Afterward, I’m going to return to Thailand to visit my friends in Suwannaphum and get my fix of the relaxed Thai culture I’ll undoubtedly need after the hustle and bustle of India and before I return to the crowds of China for yet another four months of teaching.
After that, I know I’ll be eager to return home for yet another harvest with my family and good times with my friends before I leave for my next, slightly different but still exciting adventure: graduate school in Colorado.
However, the more I travel the worse The Itch becomes, and I’m beginning to wonder if it will ever leave me alone long enough to stay in one place for more than a few months before the twitch between my toes returns with a vengeance.
The answer? Probably not.
- I’m A Travel Addict – But Is It Nature or Nurture? (vagabondish.com)
- I’m Having My Cake & Eating it Too (jessicajhill.com)
- I’m Going to China! (jessicajhill.com)