27 Jul /15


Let us start with one of Michael Palin’s (actor, best know for his parts in A Fish Called Wanda and Monthy Python and his travel documentaries) travel quotes: “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”.

And here we go down the road, eager to see what is there over the horizon. When wanderlust hits, regardless if on a low-budget backpack or luxury cruise travelling – new experiences and discoveries await the travellers.

Among the top 3 common regrets, people at the dawn of their lives have – is missing the chance to travelling more.

A couple of well organised package holidays to different destinations annually is the middle class standard. A package tour, indeed, has its pros – a travel agency organises everything to help us dive into the desired relaxation and indulgence. But on the other hand, it often traps the tourists behind the fences of vacation complexes and stuck to a pre-defined standard sightseeing bucket.

Our word of the day – wanderlust can be defined as the difference between a tourist and a traveller. Opposed to the former, the latter would enjoy going off the beaten track and the journey itself would be the real experience rather than reaching a final destination.

The modern English etymology of wanderlust can be easily broken down to – wander (to move without direction / to roam) and lust (uncontrolled desire and passion). But the word is actually a loan one, and was borrowed from the German language. Yes, it is strange to accept that Germans coined a term which calls for uncontrollable actions driven by passion and without a defined result, but the term, indeed, originates from Middle High German (wandern (hike) + lust (desire)).

The first documented use of the term in English comes from only 1902, Daniel Garrison Brinton, The basis of social relations, where the author examines the impact of tribes’ aimless roving on the world history and defines wanderlust as: “A natural impulse to change of place; a craze for travel….which arises as an emotional epidemic….and drives communities from fixed seats and comfortable homes, transforming them into migratory and warring hordes.”

Over a century later, the above definition still strongly represents society’s dual opinion on wanderlust.

On one hand, leaving one’s comfort zone is encouraged as a spring of creativity, growth and dreams achieving (wandering around the world is applauded for gathering new experiences though contacts with different cultures and encouraging self-growth and satisfaction though confronting different challenges along the way).

Yet, on another, wanderlusters (the term first appeared in print in 1927, Sunday Express) are often labelled as unable to integrate into a given society, trying to escape from inner inability to find happiness and fear of commitment by endlessly changing their location.

In general, wanderlust is rarely met as a style of life, and occurs in given periods – most often in adolescence (the natural desire to run away from rules) or following moments of dissatisfaction with family, career and social status. Not to forget the common impulse to see the world and enjoy life until we are still free and can, translated to until we are still single. Reported back in 1948 by the U.S. Department of Native affairs: “when their little interval of wanderlust is over, they can pass into settled family life .”

And at the end, wanderlust, sooner or later, leads to one other German loanword – Heimweh, but more on that in one of our next publications.