How travel makes unhappy…

Travelling is one of the best things in the world. But for me, it’s actually only a close second to relocating. Relocating is a bit like ‘advanced travelling’. Why?

There’s no return ticket. There’s the chill down your spine when you realise that you don’t have any apartment keys in your pocket – because there’s nowhere to return to.

But for many years, I have been relocating (and travelling, in fact) unhappily. It’s not that the relocation itself made me unhappy. I love discovering new places.

But I did it wrong. 


I took everything I needed. But I forgot an open mind….!

I left Frankfurt for Kuala Lumpur. I missed family, friends, my favourite cafe, the local cuisine, the road I took to uni every day.

I left Kuala Lumpur for London. I missed the tropical weather, the cheap and delicious street food, the gorgeous beaches within easy reach.

I left London for Melbourne. I missed the 24/7 entertainment, the museums with their ever-changing exhibition spaces, the cheap and short flights to amazing destinations, the extensive public transport system.

I left Melbourne for Perth – and I did it again. I missed the cooler climate in winter, the dozens of lanes and alleyways with quirky cafes popping up in unexpected places. And (psst.. don’t tell anybody back in Melbourne) the proximity to Sydney. I missed the awesome trams, and even the mind-boggling Melbourne hook-turn (if you’re unfamiliar, you actually need to stay on the far left if you want to turn right, allowing traffic and trams to pass while you wait).

If tomorrow I was about to go back to, say, London, I’d miss the wonderful, empty (!) Perth beaches (seriously, you can have an entire beach to yourself), the relaxed vibe, the easy-going people, the change that happens so quickly in this ever-evolving, massively growing city.

Do you see how this is a recipe for disaster?

It took me so long to realise this: In every new place, I was looking for the old, familiar. I was dead-set on keeping up my habits (visiting museums – or the beaches, taking public transport – or drive), no matter if the city was actually geared towards it.

By refusing to change, by refusing to let the city change me, I blocked out everything the new place had to offer. I was looking for the OLD – but some (or most) of it didn’t exist in the NEW.

It’s so silly, and it took me so long to figure it out. It took long because when you relocate, you need to look for something that you don’t know yet. You need to look for the unfamiliar, be open to what is there. To just be there, and observe. Experience.

And oh dear, all those lost years, looking for something that’s just NOT there.

So I ask myself: Why not make the most of each place, each unique city?

What’s your recipe for successful travel or relocation? How does adapting work for you?

Tell me about it!

~ Andrea

Featured/above image credit.

5 replies »

  1. Thank you for this nice article! I think it has to do with not living in the present and indeed clinging on to the past! I am very keen on moving again too, but I have to watch out that I don’t move the whole time in order to ‘findsomething’ (happiness). Because it is HERE, whereever I am ;). That is my pitfall I guess.


  2. Hi Andrea! I love traveling but I don’t get to relocate as much as you have. But my relocation though not extensive still involved giving up ‘habits’. It is difficult but like you’ve said, have an open mind.
    You said, “To just be there, and observe. Experience.”
    I like to add – Absorb. Simply absorb everything. Take it all in. But to do so, we need to create space within ourselves. When we are too bottled up in our ‘habits’, there really is no space to absorb anything.
    I’m glad for the change taking place in you right now. 🙃


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