You’re either an outdoors person or you’re totally not. And for those who are, wanderlust is a very real and painful thing. You feel joy when the air flows in through your open car windows, you feel a zing any time you touch a tree or stand on grass, you get excited when it rains and your windows fog up… these are all telltale signs of being a wanderer at heart. And I have them all.
You know what else I have? An awesome 9-5 job. I work as a software specialist for a SaaS company, meaning I help people get their asses into gear while using our product. They’re based in Washington, I work remotely in Knoxville. It’s all the benefits of a real job (literally), while affording me beautiful, wonderful freedom from a tied-down desk… sort of.
My job demands full time hours from me, and as we interact with customers, I also have to be online between set hours. As any free spirit will tell you, sometimes these restraints can be a massive burden on an unfettered soul. So how do I deal with the itchy feet during business time? More importantly, how can you cure wanderlust from behind an office desk?
Here’s a sampling of the things I do to cure wanderlust (or at least put it off until the weekend):
1. I write about it.
The proof is right here in the pudding! Yes, I create content to cope with the creeping urge to run outside. It’s the same reason why people love to read books; it’s an escape for the mind. I’m lucky that my job has downtime, and I get to sneak in a few minutes here and there to bang out a few paragraphs. I write about everything and anything, whatever is in my mind causing me to feel trapped. If I’m wishing I was traversing the Appalachian Trail, I make up stories about clambering over rocks and getting mud on my shoelaces. If I am missing the ocean, I jot down my fantasies about revving up the Bacon Van and cruising cross-country to California. And it’s not about publishing them either – I never write with a commercial purpose in mind, but I write to tell myself a story, and I know that one day they may actually become the beginnings of a plan to go on great adventures.
2. I explore the world around me.
If I walk 7 minutes from my apartment, I come to a trail that leads to a park. On that trail are trees, and I recently discovered that behind those trees are some geocaches. If I head 10 minutes in the other direction, there’s a really cool stream that will often surprise me with varied wildlife. From my window I can see a Walmart, so occasionally I’ll pack up my lunch and drive over to the unofficial RV area and sit in the back to people-watch (and also cat-watch, there’s a cute feral community around there). With all the Instagram photos of the North Cascades and Crater Lake National Parks, snow-capped mountains and thunderous rivers, it can be easy to forget the smaller, more modest exploring opportunities that still bring a substantial amount of relief to those with a wanderlusty constitution.
3. I travel by proxy.
I have three monitors for my laptop. Normally, two of those are filled with spreadsheets and support tickets, while the other one is streaming a YouTube tour of a van dweller’s home. We live in a world of ultimate connectivity, which means that we can be almost anywhere just with a quick click on the mouse. Channels such as Dylan Magaster, I Am Jake, and Earth Story are amazing at recreating the feeling of being deep within the off-grid world, and forums such as Cheap RV Living and Reddit’s Van Dweller community allow you to submerge yourself in conversations as if you were there. To avoid getting the real world bends as I re-emerge, I will often take a cup of coffee out onto my deck and enjoy 5 minutes of decompression before plugging back in to the matrix.
People will often tell you that a life not enjoyed is a life wasted, and you must quit your job if you’re not living the life you’ve always dreamed, and I really applaud those people who take that advice. For me, I could never fit my husband, cats, and a 9-5 within a van home, so I find other ways to do it. You are the only one living your life, so only you can decide the model that best fits, and if that model is not permanent travel or a #vanlife persona, there are other ways you can calm the nomad voice inside, and be at peace with your situation.
Have tips on how to merge wandering and work into one beautiful creation? Comment below and share your tips on beating those wanderlust blues.