The Key To Happiness In Not Necessarily In The Sole(s)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today, I was walking with my mom around the small town of Port Perry, just outside of Toronto, discussing where my next adventure would be. I started listing off countries that I wanted to see, cities that I want to move to, and languages that I wanted to learn. I was overwhelming her with my thoughts and ideas because, inside, I was feeling a little overwhelmed with my return home.

Since September, I have felt like a vagabond, staying in different apartments and hostels, friends’ couches and acquaintances’ floors. To me, the only logical thing to do was to keep on moving, to get rid of this inner-edge by bouncing around a little more.

My mom put her arm around my shoulder and said, “your biggest adventure, right now, is your return home. Enjoy it.”

Upon our return to the house, I read this article at Matador declaring that the key to happiness in travel was actually in the planning, not the act itself. The article points to research from the Netherlands showing that people are happier — for up to eight weeks beforehand — before a trip than those not planning on traveling somewhere. I couldn’t agree more.

It is the time before we actually travel that we get to romanticize what things we are going to do, the kind of people we will meet, and the food we will savor. Then, most often than not, we get to a place and rediscover a different kinds of stress, opposite to the stresses of everyday life back home. There may be a different language to manage, streets or forests to navigate through, or a bottled water battle.

A friend referred to these vacations as “time-on” rather than “time-off,” never feeling fully recovered from one’s time away. However, as Christine Garvin points out in her article, “long-term travelers usually know they’re in for some rough patches. That’s almost a part of the purpose.”

Sometimes it’s necessary to push one’s limits to better understand one’s self.

However, Garvin also mentions that travel is not necessary when trying to reach some sort of internal consensus: “We have the power to get away in the here and now.”

Those words would never ring truer than after my morning discussion. It made me think about my own motives to escape, what things compelled my feet to itch, my desire to be constantly moving. It made me think of Joan Didion, who once wrote a poignant punchline in one of her essays,

… one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.

I guess we have the potential to travel within our minds as much as throughout the world. The real challenge is what we learn from these experiences and what we can share about them.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to find peace in tranquility.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog,

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