Is Travel an Obsession?

Just curious if others have this same obsession my husband and I seem to be experiencing. Seems that if I don't have a vacation on the horizon booked, I can't live with that and have to do something about it. Vacations are the carrot that keeps me working. Our two week vacation to Italy was ONLY two months ago. We've had 4th of July weekend booked in Carmel since January and came home Sunday. My husband and I have been talking about a trip to Scotland, Sept 2014, but we can't book flights for that until November. Clearly, until the flights are booked, I can't feed need for travel. So what did we do tonight after the our Friday night Happy Hour by the pool? We've booked tickets to Costa Rica for the end of March. This is our second trip to Costa Rica, so now tied with Italy. Not sure if Scotland will still make the cut for next year. But we have until November to decide.

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
525 posts

We are addicted, as you say. Ours happens to be in traveling with our Jack Russell and doing a lot of hiking and biking throughout Europe. We always are honing and planning for the next year (or 3) down the road. Always its to each their own, but there is certainly no guilt in wanting to have and plan for the next adventure. That is what it is all about!

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1578 posts

Yes, Karen. I know what you are feeling. Some people in the U.S.A. who did not go to Europe, think traveling to Europe is something that a person does once. They think : if people go on a three week trip to Europe, when they finish that trip they will feel satisfied, they will think "I have been there and done that". But no, if people had a good trip to Europe, it is likely that they will be addicted to Europe. They desire to go to Europe again, and again, and again, ... After people went to some places in Europe, they desired to go to more places in Europe. Europe consists of many countries. Each country is different. Each country in Europe has its own people and cultures.

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
325 posts

Hello, my name is Charles and I am a recovering travel-aholic. Yes, I am like you and always seem to be working on the next trip or two. I love it and do not see an end in sight.

Posted by Sharon
515 posts

Been that way all my life. My dad was always trip planning, and now I, too, am always thinking of the next road trip, getaway, or major trip. Always.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5541 posts

I prefer to think of it as a life-goal :-) Now that I'm retired, I have to have at least 2 trips in my future or I am seriously unhappy. When I got back from Spain in February, I realized that I wasn't going anywhere for 6 whole months, and that trip (now 2 months away) is to the U.S., which I don't "count" because it's mostly to visit family, friends and shopping malls - even though I have almost 2 weeks of touring in Canada (Vancouver Island and Banff) tucked in there somewhere. I brightened up when I started planning a first-time trip to Turkey and I'm thinking about Southeast Asia this winter. If that doesn't happen, then I will have to start thinking seriously about another winter (February) trip to Europe - but Costa Rica sounds nice too. Is it easy to see independently? I lived for 8 years in the Bay Area and didn't go to Europe - it just seemed too far (I knew I would move back to Israel), but I did about 120,000 vacation miles in the western states and Canada, 2 or 3 trips each year and still didn't see as much as I wanted. Did you have good weather in Carmel? You are fortunate to live near so many wonderful destinations in driving distance.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1346 posts

I'm there with you, Karen. I'm the 'mad' planner in the house. I am already thinking about where I want to go next year (France, or UK) and the year after that (back to NYC?) - and we haven't had this years trip yet (California, in Sept - YAY!). My husband can't do that tho. I guess (well, I know) he is more pessimistic and says 'I can't think more then 2 weeks away' - always assuming the worst. Vacation planning (and the vacation itself) is the only thing that keeps me going ...and to add to Ron, I always knew I'd have to go to Europe more then once, before our first trip in 2008, we said - every 5 yrs would be nice. Then while we were over there 'It'd be so nice if we could do this every 3 yrs'. Then we got home..."Gotta do this every 2 yrs" - so we have been over in 2010 and 2012, alternating with trips to the US...and after we do our Cali this year, and a return to NY in a few yrs, I hope we can do Europe every just make it a priority (and it helps that we don't have kids, our mortgage just got paid off this year, and we don't have sky high cc debt - none actually, they get paid every month. Big purchases, including holidays, money is saved up in advance so we don't incur a huge debt. We want to put some new carpet down, going to cost about $1,500, fine...saving the money every pay - a few more months with the same carpet won't kill us)

Posted by Larry
Pearland, Texas, USA
423 posts

After our first trip to Europe, I was making plans for another. My wife asked "what part of once in a lifetime didn't you understand?". Since then it's become an annual thing and we no longer think of a trip as "once in a lifetime". So, yes, it's addictive.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
629 posts

It is Saturday morning at 7:38 and I'm reading and posting. If I didn't recognize my obsession before, I sure do now! I think about our trips, past and future, all the time. Our first trip (to England) was in 2000, and then we waited until 2004 for the next trip (Eastern Europe). I told my husband that I would not wait that long again, and it was two years (2006), then it was one per year (2007, 2008). Had to skip 2009 due to how the global economic slowdown was affecting my husband's work but since then have done about two trips a year. Like Nicole, we have no kids. Our mortgage will be paid off in three years or less! I look at airfares daily and borrow travel guides from the library to do research on trips that may or may not ever happen. We haven't decided our destination for September 2014's trip and it's driving me crazy. We are booked for another Caribbean cruise in February with a bunch of friends and that will be blast!

Posted by Karen (Leigh)
439 posts

It must be an obsession, because I think about my next trip or past travels almost every day! I always think when I am planning a big trip that after this one I will have to wait 5 years or so before the next big trip. I think I will be satisfied with just a few small trips in between, such as a weekend visit to Chicago or Kansas City. That never happens! As soon as I come home from one big trip, I decide that the next one has to be the next year.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
13199 posts

Maybe not an obsession but an escapism from your daily life. Interesting. Like all things, no one definition covers all situations. My wife and I are products of depression era and World War II parents who postponed everything with the phrase, "When we retire ....." I think that was fairly common and travel was much slower then so the range for a two week vacation was very limited. Unfortunately for both sets of parents, one spouse died near retirement which killed the phrase, "When we retire ...." That drove home the idea that waiting for retirement may not be the smartest plan. As soon as the boys could participate and appreciate (around 10) we hit the road. At one time we boasted that we could travel as cheaply in Europe as the US once we got there. Those days are gone but so are the boys. Now two travel for the price of four twenty years ago. Once the pattern was established it was hard to break so we just keep going. This past May it was Tuscany this Fall the Med. Some may view it as an obsession on our part. But for us it is doing what we want now that we are retired. And we thank the Feds, as our SS checks is our travel fund. Thank you all who are continue to pay into SS. We appreciate it.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
950 posts

It sounds like a severe case of escapism. I've been guilty of it too (especially to counteract work stress/long hours), although I'm trying to fill my life with other hobbies (I was sensing I am trying to feel some weird gap in my life - to each his own). It's also a side-effect of having more than adequate disposable income - I don't mean to sound harsh here but, in all seriousness, many people don't have this built-in luxury of escaping every few months. Obsessions of any kind don't seem to be healthy in the long run, so if you're thinking this may be one of those, maybe it's worth examining your motivations? Why is booking one trip after another the only way to get your "fix"? Are there alternatives you could try? Just a thought...

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1346 posts

It took years together before my husband and I could afford a trip at all...we have been together since 1990 (when I was all of 17), so 23 yrs - 2001 was our first real 'trip' - in the car driving to Toronto and Niagara Falls, (thru the US with a stop in Boston). It was 2006 before our next 'big' trip - down to Boston for a U2 concert, then 07 a train trip to Ottawa and Montreal. We have waited so long to be able to really (for me) 'travel' and see the world - I'm glad we have too much disposable income and that we aren't drowning in debt. We have charities we donate to monthly, and we don't spend our money on unnecessary stuff (no drinking, no smoking, no cell phone - sorry, I guess cell phone are 'necessary' for lots of people)...I don't know how having too much disposable income could be a 'bad' thing...? Sorry - off topic a little...

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2044 posts

Well, I used to have a travel obsession, making many trips to UK when an aunt lived in London and I had a place to stay as a base. Then life changed, focus changed, then some family responsibilities kept me on a short lead. Fast forward to this spring when the ability to travel came back to me. Talk about addiction! It has reappeared with a vengeance, lol! Did a quick trip to FL in April, a Rick Steves Heart of Italy tour for just under 2 weeks in May , Yellowstone in June, <sigh> nowhere in July (but thinking I might do a short road trip North and take in the International Selkirk Loop), Seattle in August, London and Wales in Sept (which I started planning as soon as I got back from Italy! I was thinking about it on the plane, lol), and a Road Trip back east to TN/NC to take some family heirlooms back to cousins in October. Along with my brother and his wife, we are planning another RS tour next May, maybe Scotland or Ireland?? and I am planning the RS 21 day Tour of Europe for the Fall of 2014. Thinking I have a big gap in there over the winter, so maybe bird-watching in AZ? I feel like I am making up for lost time. Part of that is also based on my Mom's last months. She had traveled widely and reminisced a lot about the places she went and things we did together on travels BUT she would always end the story with "I never got to go on a safari or to see the Great Wall". She was 94 when she died, and during her last week I know she made this statement at least half a dozen times. When I am 90-something and in the nursing home, I want to be able to say "I went everywhere I wanted to go!" Yes. My name is Pam and I have an obsession. (RS travel group the 3rd Sat helps!)

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
486 posts

Just curious if others have this same obsession my husband and I seem to be experiencing. Seems that if I don't have a vacation on the horizon booked, I can't live with that and have to do something about it. Vacations are the carrot that keeps me working./quote] Another way to feed the obsession is to sign up for a language course. You'll meet like minded people, keep the brain active and if you do it a year out, you should be able to reach A1 level, so you should be able to tell a little about yourself, ask for and understand directions, make reservations, understand announcements at the train station and so on. It is always fun to be able to say things like "Oh, we'll be coming in on platform 2 and need to change to platform 7 for the train to Rome" while your travelling companions marvel at your command of the language <g>. Another think to watch out for are social events organised by the country's embassy. At such events you'll get to meet some of the local foreigners, try you language skills, sample the food and learn a bit about the country's culture.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
950 posts

@Jim - that's excellent advice. Also getting lost in books is a great, although of course imperfect, substitute or addition to travel. I just read Andrew McCarthy's The Longest Way Home and it was a great biography and travel book all in one package. Books can really bring travel to life just like learning a foreign language or meeting new people from other countries.

Posted by Lo
1493 posts

Oh, yeah, I've been obsessed with travel from the time I was little. I always wanted to go to, be in, move to, and/or see someplace other than where I was at the moment. Live in the city where I was born, even though it is a great place? No way. Visit it after I left to go to college at 17? Okay, but mostly to see relatives. Frequent trips in the US and Canada often hooked on to business trips and pleasure trips to Mexico were a part of my 20's, but I didn't get to go to Europe until I was 31. By then I was divorced, and I quit my job so I could have the time to go in the way I wanted to. That's obsession. In 1977 there were no Schengen rules, so I spent 4 months starting in the UK and ending in Greece. I still didn't get to go all the places I wanted, and it made me want to go back to live and work in Europe some day. I realized that goal with a job with the US Army in Germany 1982-1985. After returning to the US, I continued the US travel whenever I could fit it into my work and family schedule. It wasn't until well after my second husband and I retired that we were able to go to Europe. It was his first time. We've been going back annually since then. We were able to retire early, me at 58 and my husband at 55. I wanted to get an RV and full-time it combined with overseas travel, but he wanted a home base, so we ended up in Tucson. The responsibilities and costs associated with owning a home keep us from traveling overseas more than a month per year right now, but I would love to go more often. His racing schedule in the PNW allows me to scratch those itchy feet a little. The travel obsession is mine. The racing one is his. We are very lucky that we can do both annually and still eat and pay bills! We will continue to do both until our money or our health run out. Next summer we'll spend a month in Scandinavia. I'm already planning...

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3775 posts

I'm totally addicted! I can never get enough. Wish it weren't so expensive though... :( .. Why couldn't I be addicted to say, scrapbooking instead? Carmel is my favorite fairly close place to go if I can't be in Europe... love it there.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1346 posts

Susan - I do scrapbooking and card making as well - let me tell you, when I kick the bucket and hubby sells my stuff (unless he kicks it first and I sell all his books), there's a good couple thousand dollars worth of stuff I have - and if I sold it at face value (what I paid for it), I'm sure it's pushing $8000-9000 that I've gathered over the last 15 yrs...prob more, but I shudder to think what I've spent on ebay and other places - I could have taken a few more trips! lol

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3775 posts

Nicole, I knew someone would tell me whatever example I picked was also expensive!... ;) I do think scrapbooking would be a lot of fun... I just don't need any more money-costing hobbies, I'd rather feed the Europe addiction... ;)

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3168 posts

I suppose it is an addiction. I don't feel right unless I am on a trip or planning the next one. Some of my trips are stateside to visit relatives and some are to Hawaii. Then, there are my RV trips. Did I say I'm retired?

Posted by Judy
Alexandria, MN, USA
136 posts

I'm so glad to hear there are others like me! We lived in Germany from 1968-1971 (Uncle Sam), and that started our travels. I was teaching in a base school, but every school vacation we went on a trip. Usually a couple trips in the summer too. You could see a lot in a weekend. After returning home we have returned often to Europe. Always had to go early June because of teaching. Took our kids separately at age 9 (eliminates fighting). Luckily we had parents who loved to babysit when we traveled. After retirement we started taking 2 big trips a year. All independently except a Southeast Asia Cruise. In 2011 we took our first group tour with Grand Circle to Turkey (loved it),then OAT to Panama, then Grand Circle to South Africa (loved it). I didn't have the comfort level in those places. We are going to Morocco with OAT in November, and Australia/New Zealand with Odyssey-Unlimited in March 2014. We've met such interesting people on these tours. Plan to take our twin granddaughters(separately) to London and Paris in the fall of 2014. I have about 4 trips in the planning stages at all times. We follow Rick Steves closely but haven't taken his trips. I spent too much time on the computer researching trips, but that's part of the fun. A good quote, "The biggest mistake people make is...thinking they have time." Happy Travels!!!

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
506 posts

Yes, I will admit that I too have an addiction. Always have been an antsy person. When we were out and about, Mom had to put me in a harness to keep me from wondering off. I understand this is part of my fabric as a person and I am alright with that. I find myself actively planning trips that are weekend jaunts and then if I hit a snag, I begin reading guidebooks for countries I haven't explored yet. For instance, I want my two grown daughters and oldest granddaughter to visit Spain and Portugal together with me. We'll have to save for the trip, so it won't be any earlier than Spring or Summer of 2015 but do you know, I have already pulled guidebooks from the library and have started devising a plan. LOL. In the meantime, it is off to Leavenworth for a weekend in October and then Cabo San Lucas in April, 2014. Yep, obsessed.....

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1395 posts

I love to be moving around, and we're always planning the next trip. Luckily my wife loves travel too, but paces herself on trips better than I do. On my own I wear myself out sightseeing, with her I stop sometimes to smell the roses, or coffee, or wine. Between ages 18 and 26 I went to England three times, France, and Portugal. I sort of assumed I'd be crossing the Atlantic every few years. But life and work happened, along with a desire to see more of the US that ultimately brought me from east to west coast, farther from Europe. I was 59 when we returned to Paris ten years ago, but retirement has meant almost annual overseas trips, plus cruises and other travel (we love roadtrips), so by now we've been to lots of countries (including Texas). Carpe diem!

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1174 posts

I don't know if it an obsession or not but I do spend a lot of my waking hours thinking about travel. I am going to Italy this fall and have three more European trips in various stages of planning. I won't retire for a few more years but have already started planning for it as I would like to travel full time for three or four years. I am a reader and while I have always enjoyed reading about travel, I've noticed lately that a bigger portion of my reading is in preparation for trips. Not necessarily guidebooks but novels, history, and memoirs, I can't seem to get enough. I'm rereading A Room with a View for my trip to Italy, also reading Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Route (not Italy but a travel adventure).

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
765 posts

Thanks for the great responses. I'm in good company. Yes, I think part of it is escapism. My job is stressful and not a 9-5 job. So the planning and thinking about past and future travel keeps my mind away from work when I'm not working. Our plans are to retire in 7-8 years, so we are always thinking about where we might go once we don't have to worry about the limited vacation time. Funny how travel has affected where I've lived. One too many ski vacations during college made me decide to move to Colorado to ski for a winter. 20 years later we left Colorado and moved to Sonoma County, where we'd visited wine country multiple times on vacation. And I agree with others that the planning and research is half the fun of vacations.
Unfortunately there's no RS Costa Rica book to help with planning, so I have the Frommer's book. Thinking about the Caribbean coast this trip (last trip did the Pacific).

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1688 posts

It's so great to read all of the responses here and know I'm not alone! The travel bug bit me in junior high, when I almost had an opportunity to go Italy and Greece. I finally made it to Italy during my senior year of high school, then went back 2 years later. My parents have no interest in travel and my sister is slowly coming around to my side of things. We went to Paris last fall and are tentatively talking about going to Ireland in 2014, though I don't know how serious she is about it. If I can afford it, I'm definitely going to Europe in 2014 - Budapest, Hamburg, maybe Scotland... I have no idea where my love of travel came from; it certainly isn't genetic. As other have said, planning a trip helps me get through the less fun parts of life. Having something to look forward to is necessary for emotional well-being. When the trip is over, I have pictures and memories which will sustain me for years. I feel very lucky each time I take a trip. I know plenty of people who can't afford to travel internationally and wish they could, and also people who could definitely afford it but never go.

Posted by Janet
Lakewood, WA
102 posts

Well I am a third generation traveler. Guess it is in the genes. I usually travel with family but I have started going on my own. I usually decide where to go next while on my current vacation. Plan my trips around what I can afford, sometime stay in US and sometimes Europe. Unemployment really bites into the travel budget. But I also read travel journals and essays so I feel like I am traveling. I also watch travel shows, not just rick's show.

Posted by John
158 posts

@Frank. Yes waiting until "we retire" was never an option for us. I was fortunate enough to have been dragged across the USA a number of times and to a good many states growing up. My wife did not travel nearly as much with her family as I did with mine. I have created a monster. There have been a number of times that we will be home from a trip somewhere and within a few weeks she is saying "where to next and when". It gets worse. She has started taking trips with her friends and not including me. So Karen, yes it is an addiction. For those of us fortunate enough to do this we should never lose sight of our ability. Between trips within the 48 states, Hawaii every other year, Europe when the whim hits us, I count my blessings each and every time. I also understand that some people will never understand us. And that is okay.
My wife and I are travel addicts and we have tainted at least 1 child with this addiction.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8501 posts

I was fortunate enough to have parents that took us all over the US as kids (46 of 50 states). I never realized until fairly recently that we mostly camped because it was cheaper than a motel. Travel was, and is, a priority for them. But aside from a day trip to Mexico and a couple of nights in Montreal, we were not international travelers. I spent a semester of college in Austria and traveled around Europe and to the UK from there, but no one else in my family left the US for over 20 years. In the years since, though, I have made up for the years of too much responsibility and not enough money by traveling abroad almost every year. I leave in just over three weeks for another trip to Spain (and Scotland), and I am already thinking forward to what comes next. I love the whole process of deciding, and planning, and booking, and trying to find the best deal. Travel, and planning for travel, will always be part of my life.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

What a great thread!! Thanks, Karen, for starting it by sharing your own feelings and experiences. I'm completely addicted to (but not obsessed by) travel and everything connected to it. I always book my next trip immediately upon returning from a trip. Sometimes I'm impulsive about it, like last November I woke up one morning and said to myself, "I think I'm meant to spend New Year's in Rome." I booked it that day - flight, hotel, the whole shebang. I am currently working with one goal in mind - save every possible penny to get back to the UK (my current, yes, obsession). Every purchase is preceded by the thought, "Do I really need this or do the $$ go instead into my travel fund?" The answer is almost always the travel fund. When not actually traveling, I'm reading books related to travel (both fiction and non-fiction), scouring the Web for destination information and (mostly) art history related to my planned trips, listening to podcasts and even walking tours in advance, spending too much time on these boards (!!), etc, etc., etc. Travel is a HUGE high, and I hope to continue for a long time to come.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3276 posts

Have to say I am probably obsessed,,, but I don't think I am running away from anything... I think I am running 'to' something:))

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1346 posts

Actually, Rick Steves (And Rudy Maxa on PBS) really started my whole full-blown travel obsession. Growing up, we didn't have a lot - a trip to PEI was huge for us...and the 'biggest' trip I had when I was young was I think when I was maybe 8, and me, my younger sister, mother, aunt and grandfather went to Ontario (Niagara Falls) with Grampie driving his motor home (and on the return home, my mother says 'That's the last time I travel with (her dad)' He was pretty old school - 'You don't want to eat that hot dog for supper - well, you can have it for breakfast!'). I always had this vague urge to visit Scotland (maybe being from Nova Scotia - "New Scotland"). But one day I caught RS show...well, the dreaming/obsessing began...and Italy was my first obsession - and first trip overseas - thanks to Rick. My obsession has since expanded and I could probably fill the next 15 yrs with trips to Europe. (I am recalling a trip to Maine now with my parents...that may have been 1986-ish, so 13 yrs old).

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
6123 posts

Travel is my real life. It helps me grow as a person, helps me with my professional work, and is pretty much what I plan the day that I return from a trip. When I return to work, One (and more) of my colleagues starts asking me, "how many days?" until the next trip, and it's usually in the upper 200s. I actually have a countdown clock set for the day of the next departure.

Posted by Thomas
Snyder, Texas
504 posts

Hi Karen, Thank you for this post. The replies are interesting to read. I was intrigued by Europe from the time I was a boy. We had a few friends who traveled, and I had an aunt who traveled. When I was 16, she took a 90 day trip around the world, riding an elephant in India, going on a safari in Kenya. I was hooked. My own family never traveled. We had our own business, and we just worked. I became a teacher. After my first year, my dear mother who had never been anywhere found a trip to Europe for me to take. She wanted me to go and paid my way for a month in Europe. After I married and had a family, we traveled some, mostly to see family. My wife's sister lived in central Florida. It was a lot of fun to go see them. We love Disney as a result of great memories. I went 30 years without going back to Europe. In 2000, we took our 3 children on a month trip to Europe. They were 21, 19, and 9 at the time. We took our son(the youngest) back 3 more times before he finished college. He and his wife have a goal of going to Ireland and Scotland when he finishes pharmacy school, which he begins on July 30. My wife and I just got home from a month in England and France for our 40th anniversary. We have trip to Arkansas for the fall foliage planned with our great college days friends for October. We have reservations for May for our favorite beach in Florida, Sanibel Island.
Yes, I like to travel.

Posted by BG
SF Bay Area, USA
1588 posts

Yep, I'm definitely an addict, with no hope of rehabilitation! I have a 3 week Italian vacation coming up in November, and another to France on the drawing board for 2014.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
1153 posts

I had never thought of it that way, but I guess I'm addicted too. Last fall, during a stopover on our flight to Italy, I booked this year's trip to Turkey! (Using United frequent flyer miles ... that happened to be the first day that tickets became available for my chosen departure date.) As addictions go, I think travel is fairly harmless. I feed it by spending probably too much time chasing frequent flyer miles for free tickets and researching new places to see. For 13 years now we've spent a month every fall in Europe, and lately we've added a week in the winter in Caye Caulker, Belize during lobster season. My husband is very glad that I've chosen this addiction over, say, shoes!

Posted by Marsha
Sheffield Lake, Ohio, USA
37 posts

I don't think it is an obession, it is my life & I do NOT want a 12 step program to stop!!!