2019 was the year I burned out on travel.
This is both a little sad and extremely relieving.
It’s sad because I can remember when travel was my only goal, when I arrived wide-eyed and overwhelmed in Vietnam for the first time four years ago.
I had been woefully under-prepared for the 30 hours of flying and the jet lag, but I was grateful for every moment of it.
When my new nomad friends in Saigon would complain about their long-haul flights, I’d secretly seethe. All I had wanted was to get out of the States, and at times, it had felt impossible. How could they complain? Didn’t they know how special this was?
I mourn that person — the one entirely entranced by the foibles of living abroad and relentlessly positive about days-long flight itineraries, what adventure!
Seeing more of the world and experiencing new cultures were goals that drove me for a few years, and it’s scary to let them go.
But the constant moving, the newness, the starting over aren’t serving me anymore.
I was tipped off recently to a passage in Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck that speaks to this.
”And what I've discovered is something entirely counterintuitive: that there is a freedom and liberation in commitment. I've found increased opportunity and up-side in rejecting alternatives and distractions in favor of what I've chosen to let truly matter to me. . . Yes, breadth of experience is likely necessary and desirable when you're young—after all, you have to go out there and discover what seems worth investing yourself in. But depth is where the gold is buried. And you have to stay committed to something and go deep to dig it up. That's true in relationships, in a career, in building a great lifestyle—in everything."
Not spending half my time being my own travel agent will allow me the mental bandwidth to invest in things more valuable to me than constant adventure: writing, checking in with family and friends, staying healthy.
The last time I achieved anything remarkable in my work — building a passive income — was when I was based in Bangkok in 2017. I had a routine and stability that allowed me to focus.
In 2018, I failed to scale and automate my Kindle business. In 2019, I failed to publish my first novel, GURU.
I’m planning to spend most of 2020 in Australia, and hoping for a return to stability and routine. Being excited about sleeping in the same bed for more than a few months is not as flashy as jet-setting, but here we are.
I admit it’s incredibly privileged to be able to say that traveling the world full-time, or Living the Dream™ as digital nomad blogs would call it, is bumming me out.
But I’ve chosen this lifestyle, and so I can un-choose it, too. Being able to identify when something is no longer serving you and move on is freeing. It feels like growth.
I have a lot more thoughts on travel, but those are probably best kept for another blog. (Though you can hear me and Tropical MBA host Dan Andrews discuss many of them in the “Digital Nomad Lie” episode of the podcast.)
For now, I’m looking forward to investing myself more in one place, one project, one lifestyle — and digging up that buried gold.