How many readers out there knew that this great saying – “Not all those who wander are lost” – comes from a poem by J.J.R. Tolkien, written for The Lord of the Rings? Well, I didn’t know and I was wholly surprised when I Googled it for this article.
And I love the saying. It is certainly true for me. I often find myself trying to explain what I’m doing and why, because when I tell people I have no home and no car but simply travel all the time, it is not enough. Sometimes, I can see in their eyes the idea that I must be lost without a home.
The truth is that the corner I cannot see around is my focus, or the door that blocks my view to the interior of someone else’s space. That ship unloader I can spy just over the treetops at night intrigues me, as does the destination of each city bus. Curiosity leads me to the next thing and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, I’m completely content to simply sit and watch things pass me by.
I am a wanderer who became a wife and mother, a worker in the corporate world, a business owner, unable to travel for lack of funds and time. Although life allowed me to see much of the US over my lifetime, I didn’t venture outside it until 2015. Now that I’ve been “let loose” I find I treasure my international adventures jealously, and my most favorite times are those when I stay somewhere long enough to “wander” into a neighborhood and become part of it for an extended time.
I started my journeys in SE Asia with an Excel spreadsheet and set times I would stay in an area. I hadn’t learned how to wander yet. Now, I rarely know where I’m staying in a city more than a couple of days in advance and never how long I’ll stay somewhere before I get there.
It is necessary for me to get the “lay of the land” and if I find joy in the place I’m visiting it is very hard for me to leave. Guadalajara was like that for me. I was so tempted to stay on for a couple of months. Now that I’ve found Manzanillo, I’m so glad I didn’t.
In SE Asia, my long-term stay was Melaka, Malaysia (where I wrote a book over a two-month period). During my Central America trip, I ended up with two such places – Potrero, Costa Rica and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Here in Mexico, it very nearly became Guadalajara (I was set to return by bus after three days) until I stumbled on Manzanillo.
When I began my vagabond lifestyle, I didn’t know all that it could be. I didn’t realize that planning was the antithesis of the freestyle living I could embrace. Now I’m an old-hand at it, although, like everything in life – there’s still lots to learn.
Ultimately, wandering is not for everyone. I have met several people for whom seeing as much as possible is their goal and others for whom my often-rudimentary housing would absolutely be a deal-killer. Scheduling, as I once did, is a must-have for most people – in part because their time is limited. Mine isn’t, and I’ve come to understand everyone travels in their own way.
But if you can do it someday and it suits you, I highly recommend the leisurely exploration of another country – even your own country with no agenda. I plan to someday travel a bit more of the US at some point, when I can figure out how to afford it.
I’ve included random pictures of some of some of my wanderings. Enjoy.