I Think I Might Have a Problem

During the final stretch of our long trip from Berlin to Burhaniye, my feelings startled me.

I was, completely and unexpectedly, cringing with dread.

I was tired and a bit cranky from our long day and maybe that fed into it a bit. With an early start, two planes and two buses, we were soon to be within a few kilometres of our home for the next three months.

Problem was, I knew the way.




I pointed out the familiar places from our last visit, recognizing the turns that the bus would take before the bus took them. Though we had been greeted with a lovely sunset on the drive north from Izmir, we arrived in Burhaniye under the veil of night, but that didn’t matter. I think I could have walked it myself in my sleep.

In the weeks leading up to our return to rural Turkey, Pete and I were both so excited as we had fallen in love with the area on our visit last year. I cried at our departure then, and every country since faced stiff comparison to the wonders of Turkey. None succeeded. And so when the opportunity to take up the same house-sitting job arose, we snatched it up. Of course we wanted to return, and of course, it was going to be every bit as wonderful, right?



So happy last year at Ephesus!


But in our first few days, I felt nothing but anxiety. All I could think of was: I’ve been here. I’ve done this. Where’s the newness? Where’s the challenge? I felt regret at our decision to come, and panicky that we had committed over two months to it.

My feelings were so unexpected. This is the first house-sitting job we’ve been so happy with that we returned. This is only the second place in four years that we’ve come back to (besides visits home). And after the first few days, I wasn’t even ready to give it a chance.

Pete kept saying that it felt like coming home, and it truthfully did feel that way for me a little too. And maybe therein was the problem: my perception that it was too comfortable, too easy, too known. After a long travel day, we usually find ourselves stumbling through a new place, eagerly waiting for the new dawn so that our exploration could begin. That isn’t possible here.

Clearly it’s not Turkey. It’s me. And it’s an addiction, I’m realizing, to change. To constant originality, to challenge. Such that it makes me look at this place, this corner of the world that became so beloved to us just a year before, with anxiety and trepidation.

I think I might have a problem.


45 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • April 15 2013

    I don’t think it’s a problem, but shows your insatiable curiosity. Even when I lived in Calgary, I hated hiking the same trail more than once, as I always felt like I was missing out on something new, something better perhaps, or at least something different. Since settling down in Germany, I’ve gotten much better at slow travel, but still rarely have the desire to go back to the same place more than once – there’s just too much else waiting to be explored.
    Laurel recently posted..Neuschwanstein: The Most Overrated Castle in Germany

    • April 18 2013

      I think that’s it. In reality, we probably won’t wander the globe forever and ever, and so I keep thinking that there is so much of the world yet to see. I don’t want to miss out!

  • “And maybe therein was the problem: my perception that it was too comfortable, too easy, too known.” – My sentiments exactly! The hubby’s complaining that I don’t take him to the most awesome beaches in the Philippines just because I’ve already been there. Haha.
    Gaye @ Pinay Travel Junkie recently posted..Ulaanbaatar Walking Tour, Mongolia: The Long And Dusty Road

    • April 18 2013

      Ha! It’s funny too because in other ways I’m such a creature of habit, I am not adventurous when it comes to food at all, etc. But I’m with you, must see ALL the beaches! πŸ™‚

  • April 15 2013

    Interesting! I feel like I’m going in the opposite direction after having travelled to over 60 countries and having lived abroad for 8 years (and having been an expat 5 different times – soon to be 6!). For the first time EVER I am craving a true home base (but not in Toronto which is strange since I was born and raised there). Additionally I crave familiarity and more and more I’m eschewing travelling to new places in favour of my old favourites/standbys. Maybe it’s just a phase?

    • April 18 2013

      I think it all may be one giant cycle. And I expect we will reach that phase at some point too.

  • April 16 2013

    A part of me can fully relate to this. I’m always dreaming of far-off destinations, never satisfied when I’m at home unless I have another adventure on the horizon.

    But, there’s another part of me that’s always drawn back to certain places I’ve been to before (New Zealand, London, Chicago), and that’s okay, too. There are certain places that just leave footprints on our hearts, just as we leave our own footprints in them somehow.

    I hope you find a way to re-fall in love with this house sit!
    Amanda recently posted..A Tundra Education

    • April 18 2013

      I’m working on it. πŸ™‚

    • Liz Nichols
      May 1 2013

      Your first paragraph is me to a T!! At work thats all I do or talk to travellers to find out any hints I may be able to use. The biggest hurdle seems the visas.No-one here is much help. I dont understand this Schengen thing with visas??
      As for returning to places seen. I would love to return to Italy as a few short port stays on a cruise wasnt enough. Keep travelling its a huge world out there isnt it..regards Liz

      • May 3 2013

        Hi Liz! I saw your email about visas, I will respond soon! Schengen is super annoying! πŸ™‚

  • April 16 2013

    I hear ya Dalene. The addiction to ever new and novel places. I think it’s mostly a deeeeep curiosity for this wide, wide globe with so many wondrous corners, each unique, and the frustration that I can never explore all of them even halfway well in one lifetime, and… yes partly a kind of addiction for ever new stimulation.

    There’s also the adrenaline rush of challenging myself in a wholly new place, language, culture. Dropping into the middle of some strange spot on the Planet, and somehow navigating it all.

    Indeed, I’ve often compared it to the adrenaline rush of bunging jumping off bridges or stepping out of airplanes (neither of which I’d ever DREAM of doing) but still… the addiction to such challenges seems similar.

    I seem to wax to and fro on staying put and enjoying the simple things – getting to know a culture/country more intimately vs. skipping off to ever new wonders I’ve heard about. I guess you could call it the “Nest vs. Curiosity” affliction.

    Presently I’m enjoying staying put awhile here in my beloved cool, green mountain hamlet here in Vietnam, yet… trust that seldom does a day go by when I’m not trolling for cheap airfares, festivals, etc.

    It’s a disease I tell ya. πŸ˜‰

    • April 18 2013

      It is a wonderful disease (in a way). And I do like digging into the culture too and staying longer, but maybe it’s just the idea of returning to it instead of trying something new is so unsettling.

  • Sam
    April 16 2013

    Uh oh. I think I may have the same problem. Maybe there’s a cream for it, or something. Hope you can enjoy Turkey nonetheless!

    • April 18 2013

      Haha! Wanderlust calming cream – there would definitely be a market for it!

  • I totally understand what you mean. I returned to Bulgaria after two years for the TEDx Talk last weekend and I was excited until I got there. And once I was there… nothing, same old stuff. It wasn’t the same like the last time when it all was new. I was more or less happy when I left after four days. I feel bad for feeling this way but it just wasn’t new.
    Sebastian @ Off-The-Path.com recently posted..Teil 1: Ich lebe meine TrΓ€ume, und du?

    • April 18 2013

      Do we put places on too high of pedestals, maybe?

  • April 16 2013

    I don’t think it’s a problem… it’s a drive! In some ways I can relate — I love the thrill and challenge of a new destination. But I am a serial repeat offender and find great joy in returning again and again to the places I hold dear.
    Alex recently posted..Photo of the Week 96

    • April 18 2013

      “It’s a drive”. Yes, that is my new phrase for this affliction! THANKS! πŸ™‚

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    April 16 2013

    I understand a little bit of what you’re going throughβ€”for so long I have taken comfort in the things that are known and safe, and have considered myself a bit of a homebody. In some ways traveling has changed this for me because now there is nothing I love more than waking up each day and knowing I am going to be doing something entirely new, but I’ve also realized that for me, now traveling is my comfortzone, and the thought of going back home, that terrifies me. I am constantly worried that the next time I set foot in Canada, I’ll get trapped and never be able to leave again… and there’s so much more I need to do before I “settle” down.

    So our fears are not identical, I don’t think, as you don’t seem to be terrified of returning home, but then again, neither of us seems to want to retread old ground or feel like our wings have been clipped!

    • April 18 2013

      I totally understand that feeling as I had it before our first visit home too. But when I got there it had the opposite effect, it actually reminded me of why I loved travelling so much (although I love my home and am proud of it, I just don’t want to live there!) πŸ™‚

  • April 16 2013

    I think that’s wonderful. It just means you’re well travelled. Like you’ve built a close relationship with the cities you visit, a sense of comfort and feeling of being home like a local. Not many countries or travellers can do this πŸ™‚

    • April 18 2013

      Thanks Cristina. I like the way you think. πŸ™‚

  • April 16 2013

    I can so relate to this, Dalene. Instead of feeling happy to be headed home at the end of each trip, I feel anxiety. And even more so if the next adventure isn’t planned. I, too, rarely want to return to the same place because there is just too much else to see and experience. It is indeed an addiction. Welcome to travelaholics anonymous!
    Jennifer recently posted..Oulu Market Hall at Market Square

    • April 18 2013

      We need a support group. πŸ™‚

  • Laura @Travelocafe
    April 16 2013

    Now, you really made me very curious about Turkey. πŸ™‚

  • Nat
    April 17 2013

    Oh no ; That is not good news. You were so looking forward to coming back. Isn’t there places to explore close to home, where you can use the bus to get there?

    Not sure if you have already done it but Ayvalik, Ayvacik and Assos look close by. All are well known seaside resorts for Turks.

    If they are not accessible easily by bus, perhaps you can hire a car for the week and just explore every day. Might help you to be positive about your stay there.

    Hope your anxiety goes soon. It is horrible feeling like that xxxxxxxxx
    Nat recently posted..Shopping in Turkey : Ten Souvenirs To Buy

    • April 18 2013

      It is lessening as time goes by, I hope it was just my initial reaction. I am quite enjoying myself and we have spent more time in places we missed last year. I do want to get to Assos!

  • Mikeachim
    April 17 2013

    Aye. Novelty is a drug. It’s Red Bull. Everything is super-real and glittery – and when you’re going cold turkey, the world is grey and drab and you feel like you want to grab people and shout “DO SOMETHING NEW!”.

    Well, that’s my experience of it. And here between bouts of travel I’m kinda starved of novelty right now.

    But there’s also a deeper novelty to chase, wherever you are. The one that deep background journalists are interested in when they lodge themselves somewhere for weeks at a time and start digging. The kind novelists are obsessed with – the “secret lives” of peoples and places. The weird doorway you’ve walked past a dozen times and only now try opening, to find it’s unlocked, and leads somewhere you never even suspected existed. The weird bits of architecture you have to force yourself to see because familiarity keeps getting in the way. The old lady you see every morning on the way to buy groceries, who turns out to be a retired Cold War era spy-hunter. And so on.

    That stuff can often be crazier and more interesting than the immediately new. Good stories, every time…
    Mikeachim recently posted..One Year Later, Am I Living The Dream?

    • April 18 2013

      ‘Tis truth you speak, o’ wise one. Goddamn but I hope I find a spy hunter. πŸ™‚

  • April 18 2013

    Man can I relate!

    • April 22 2013

      So you’ll join our Travelholics Anonymous club? TA, as it were?

      • April 22 2013

        I’m not sure I’m ready to give up my addiction, though. πŸ™‚

        • April 22 2013

          Yeah, you’re right. Me neither. Maybe it’s just a support group then. πŸ™‚

  • April 19 2013

    I’m with you on this one. I’ve come back to Oman several times (all those visa runs!) and it’s the same feeling — I love the place but it’s not new. πŸ™
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Stop and…Eat the Roses?

  • Man, I’m right there with you. We’ve taken a break from globetrotting to get our house sold back in NZ. We’ve been here for nine months, it’s a slow process, and it’s doing my head in! There’s no novelty, no newness, no challenge in every day life. I think that’s what I love about travel. Some people are creatures of habit, I think I must be a creature of change. I hate when things stay the same for too long… hence the travel addiction!
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..Baggage Fees for Airlines in the US (2013)

    • April 22 2013

      It’s the challenge that I miss, for sure. Finding my way, meeting new people, etc.

  • April 22 2013

    I am feeling the complete opposite, how interesting! We are “settled” for the first time in 9 months with 2 months in Bali. Yesterday I said, I am so happy right now to not be planning any travel, not to be researching anything. I think I needed a break after 25+ countries in 9 months. But, like you, I will be itching for something new soon enough.
    Amber recently posted..Random Acts of Violence – Reactions to Events in Boston

    • April 22 2013

      Oh, I do enjoy being settled every once in awhile – in fact it’s necessary to stave off travel exhaustion! It’s just this repeat visit I think, that made me have this sort of realization.

  • April 23 2013

    Honestly, what you described here is exactly why I like having a home base and taking my travel in spurts! It keeps it exciting that way.

  • April 25 2013

    We’re heading back into the Yucatan and into our third time to Tulum. I’m having the same fears you are… I’m curious how it will end.

  • April 27 2013

    Nothing wrong with being addicted to travel and adventure, well not the last time I checked anyway πŸ™‚

    I think a lot of people like the idea of constant travel, but it must become cumbersome at some stage.

    As already mentioned, I think the key is travelling for a while, then setting up base for a few months and then rince and repeat.

    Now, all I need to do is find a house sitting opportunity in Thailand for this July πŸ˜‰
    Carlo recently posted..Next Stop: Moving To Thailand

  • Emily in Chile
    April 29 2013

    Hopefully you’ve settled in now! I would be worried about a place not living up to the amazing time I had previously, but I also imagine that once you get used to the idea, it’ll be nice to relax in a familiar setting before hitting the road again.

  • Oh good, so its not just me! I love house sitting, but I love being on the road more and I constantly crave it when we are in one place for any length of time.

    We do not take sits longer than 6 weeks exactly for this reason! (We have 7 weeks in Barbados next but Im hoping Ill be able to deal with it because its Barbados!).

    Ive heard from many people that they get tired after traveling for long periods of time. Not me, I feel more energized during those times.

    I clearly have an addiction too. At least our addictions are healthy πŸ™‚
    Nicole @ Suitcase Stories recently posted..Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers

    • May 3 2013

      We are beginning to set similar time frames for our house-sits for that reason. Our longest was 6 months and that was far too long to be in one place! Now that we have only 3 weeks left on this one, I’m beginning to get sad about leaving again…

  • May 7 2013

    There is nothing wrong with going back to the same place….I love to explore and relish the idea of new places, but for me, Mallorca is my place of multiple returns. In 5 visits, I still find new places to experience on the island, but I relish going back to a place I know. It has a familiarity that makes me feel like coming home, even though I am going somewhere new. I am addicted to travel too, and sometimes that includes returns to favourite and familiar places! Happy travels!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series – Mexican Lanterns

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