Hey guys, I hope all is well… and I hope you’re making good progress towards your goals! Be that fluency in English, a trip around the world, or anything else you would like to achieve. And the reason why I’m bringing this up today is that somebody recently accused me – jokingly, of course – of killing his productivity; he said after reading my articles, he started to daydream of this lifestyle and stopped getting anything done!
At the same time, however, one of our readers made the exact opposite comment… she asked me about getting homesick, and about being far from the people we love most: close friends and family. And that’s a very good question… because while some people are at home, dreaming about far-away lands, others are already abroad, and they’re dreaming about the day of their return!
Some might simply say that the grass is always greener, and that it’s simply human nature to want what we can’t have. However, this topic is really a little bit more complex than that… in fact, this is one of THE most difficult topics for travelers. I always call this “the one great disadvantage of traveling” – and it can be more difficult to deal with than culture shock or visa issues: I spend 99% of my time far away from my family and from my friends in my home country.
The good news is, however, that I now have probably 100 times more friends than I had when I first struck out on my own… and my new friends are scattered all around the world. In fact, after a few years on the road, you will have many friends in almost every country you might ever want to visit! And at that point, something really bizarre happens: going home would ALSO mean being far from many of the people you love the most!
In Brazil, for example, I have a second family… several years ago, I met a Paulista in Barcelona, and we came to be very good friends. One day he invited me to go to Brazil together… completely out of the blue. I still remember his exact words as if it were yesterday: “Hey Frank, I’m going to Brazil next week… for Carnival, and to travel around for a few months. Do you want to come?” That’s one heck of a crazy proposition, but I slept on it for one night and then said yes. And his family was so hospitable that I now consider them my own “second family”… in effect, I have a “second mum” in Brazil, and we still talk on Skype regularly.
And that is just one example among hundreds… in fact, some of my best friends in the world are right here in Thailand, while others are in Australia, Spain, Canada, Panama, and dozens of other countries. And that also means that no matter how I slice it, and no matter where I go in the world… I will always be far from many of the people I love most.
The other side of this coin is that I will also always have many people I love around me… no matter where I am. And that is a true blessing… something that nobody can ever take away from you once you’ve been on the road for a while!
Don’t get me wrong… I always try to visit my family at least once a year, and I make sure we have at least a week or two to spend together. But you know what? The old saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is absolutely true, and I’m now closer to my family than I have ever been before.
In fact, it’s kind of nice to come home and have a good dozen people fight over who gets to pick you up from the airport, and who gets to take you out for dinner first. :-) Nevertheless, one of the biggest blessings in today’s world is the internet, and Skype of course… so whenever I want to speak to my family, a webcam can really help to “matar a saudade”, as you say in Portuguese.
So yeah… this IS one of the hardest parts of traveling, and especially if you want to get into a relationship, you better pick a fellow traveler! Long distance relationships are NOT fun… trust me on this one, I speak from experience. But when you leave your friends in Brazil behind for a while, you will also make 50 TIMES more new friends in other places… many of whom will end up being the closest ones. And if you never hit the road, you miss out on all those friendships that you haven’t made yet.
In that spirit, I’ll leave you with a quote by Will Rogers today: “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” You see, after so many years, it is very hard for me to think of people as anything other than future friends.
I hope that helps if you’re hesitant about cutting your ties with your folks for a little while, and thanks for reading… as always, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from ya.
~ Frank Florida~