When love turns to obsession

5th gear and go!

5th gear and go! Mantagirl on Kilimanjaro

I’m truly beginning to scare myself. My every waking moment is spent buried in this obsession. What I once simply loved has truly taken over me.

I still like to blame my parents as they started me traveling at a young age. By age 10 I had explored Europe and the Caribbean, and the love of travel began innocently enough.

In high school, when my friends were out partying on a Saturday night, I preferred to be at the local university travelogues, listening to world travelers describe an exotic world I longed to encounter.

I craved everything about travel and knew that when I grew up some part of my life would involve the big, bold world out there.

I took my first business trip in my early 20’s. I was a new scuba diver and had just landed a job working on a small dive boat out of Nassau in the Bahamas. As I boarded the Chalks Airline sea plane in Miami for the short hop across the gulf stream I proudly told anyone who would listen, “yes, I’m traveling for business”. I felt very grown up.

My stint in the Bahamas only lasted three months but I knew that I was hopelessly hooked on diving and travel. I immediately began searching for ways to feed the habit and realized that if I became a diving instructor I could continue to combine my two great passions.

Plane tickets started stacking up as did the list of countries I had visited. A passport with extra pages became the rule rather than the exception. Friends and family simply starting asking, “Where next?”. I began to forget where I had been, all I knew was that I wanted, needed, to keep going.

I don’t know when the love turned to obsession but instinctively the past few years, I know it has. I have treasured each and every destination yet it’s simply not enough. I seriously think I’ve gone ‘round the bend.

Here are some of the signs of my obsession:

One New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago, Ridlon and I were reviewing our year. I told him I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t done as much traveling as I wanted that year. His eyes widened and he said, “really? let’s recap then shall we?” After the recap, I discovered I had indeed traveled 10 of the 12 months of the year. I started to wonder if this was a problem.

travel obsession, learning, living and loving it

travel obsession, learning, living and loving it. Mantagirl in the eastern fields of Indonesia

I can now spend only about three weeks at home without beginning to pace and make fake calls to Delta airlines pretending to book a ticket. During these times, my poor husband has all he can handle of me. Often he simply tells me to just go somewhere…anywhere…..and then he turns out the lights because I don’t know which switches turn off which lights in my own home.

This spring we left home May 23rd to head off for a season of travel. Today, it’s Sept. 8th and I’ve been home for one 24 hour stint. By the time New Year’s rolls around I will have doubled that and spent exactly two nights at home. This is beginning to become frightening.

Last week I went to Detroit Metro Airport for an interview for my Global Entry card. This card allows me to breeze through both immigration and TSA security as I have now been “pre-screened” by US Customs and Boarder Patrol. During the interview, the officer said in all the years she had worked there she had never seen a list of countries visited as long as mine. I was honestly shocked. I figured anyone with a Global Entry card had a list resembling mine. She said, “You’ve really been to all these countries in the past five years?” Of course, she knew the answer as she had my passport. I sheepishly admitted that I had crashed the website when I had tried to enter my list. Addict?

My travel schedule now rolls around in my head continually and I pack for three or more trips at a time in order to stage my luggage in various gateways. My goal for 2013 was to hit five new countries on top of all the repeats for the year. At this point I have four but have no doubt that a fifth will squeeze in somewhere.

Once again, my total days at home for 2013 will number less than 30. It seems I never book a round trip ticket anymore. It’s always multi-city in order to string one trip into the next. I’m beginning to seriously wonder if I need a 12 step program for this obsession, though personally I think a 12 country program would be more fun!

My husband is definitely worried and I think he’s secretly seeking professional advice. What can I do? I crave movement and change. Life is way too damn short not to put it in 5th gear and fly, right?

It’s all come to a head at this moment, right now, today. I have realized that there is no physical way to put more travel into the year. I have maxed out. And I’m kinda pissed off about it because I really wanted to get Delaware and Alaska into the year given that they are my last two of the fifty states.

I’m mentally exhausted with the prep work and the plans. But don’t get me wrong, this is what I live for, what jazzes me, what I thrive on. However, I’m beginning to scare myself…. in that jokingly serious way.

How do I learn to stop, if ever so briefly, and take time to re-flect and re-live? How do I let the world spin just once around without me grabbing hold and catching a ride?

How do I turn it off for a moment to breathe?

the adventure couple



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