Indulging street food, impressive world wonders, unforeseen encounters, endless oceans, high mountains, exotic creatures, ancient cultures …
Honestly, who does not want this?
I travelled to 44 countries on 6 continents. I studied in England, lived and worked in Germany, Austria, Ireland and Australia. Right now I am building a life in Colombia. I left my hometown 8 years ago and have been exploring this beautiful world since. Packing my bags and leaving my safe place behind was honestly the best decision I ever took!
Nowadays it seems like everyone wants to travel the world, discover new places, be a globetrotter or a digital nomad. But no one actually talks about how hard it is to take the first step. This goes to all travellers and those who want to be one. Trust me, it is never too late to start your own adventure.
I am sure you are very familiar with the comfortable place of THE KNOWN – where you know exactly how your day will look like. You follow your well-known habits and daily routine. You are sure about your surroundings, the people you speak with and the places you go to. You have everything under control.
Then there is the very unfamiliar territory of THE UNKNOWN – where you have absolutely no idea what will happen next. Every single minute is a surprise – because everything can happen. Control does not exist, which makes you feel excited, but also totally frightened.
These 2 worlds are in constant play with each other. Most people prefer to stay in the known – the zone of their comfort. Many people choose to stay in the exact same town they grew up in for all their life, never taking the risk of seeing what lies beyond their known territory. If this is what you want for your life – you should probably stop reading now. But if you do not see yourself in a pre-shaped future – if you are an adventurer and if the pull to the unknown is much stronger – then this is for you.
We are the generation FERNWEH. We are not made to stay in one place our whole life. We are made to venture out, to discover the far corners of our beautiful planet, without fear.
Fernweh (n.) = German for “distance pain”
Fernweh is something I had since I was little. It is the opposite of being homesick – it is the longing for distant places. But the truth is, it means much more than that. Many people are using WANDERLUST these days – but what I want to share with you goes much deeper.
Wanderlust (n.) = German for “desire to wander”
There is a big difference between sheer desire and actual pain. FERNWEH is the urge of wanting to get out of your comfort zone, daily routine and well-known habits so badly, it hurts. And what hurts? It is not the desire of travelling, but the pain of knowing that you have every chance to start, but you do not use it. So FERNWEH is not a sheer desire, but an inner discomfort that will inevitably force you to act. For me, this discomfort started to develop early on in my life, and I know there are many of you that feel the same. Because our generation is the Generation Fernweh.
Why did this pain not occur before – with our parents or grandparents? Let me explain to you why – taking the example of my family.
My grandparents lived a very calm and slow life. They were really happy staying in their village, raising their children and planting their food. There was no such thing as technology, globalisation or international news. The course of their life was clear from the beginning, which meant they had fewer possibilities but also fewer decisions to take. In a way, life was easier.
My grandparents never developed the desire to travel the world because it was not in their range of possibilities.
My parents on the other hand grew up in a less stable environment. They lived on the East side of Germany when there was still a wall separating the country and the people. When my parents were young, their career was basically chosen for them and their future shaped by the system. The people in East Germany were not able to leave the country and had very limited resources, compared to the West of Germany.
Due to those restrictions, my parents started to develop a desire for equality and began to rebel against the system. I was born in 1990 when the wall just disintegrated and the people claimed back their freedom. Suddenly everything changed. Technology and globalisation hit my parents and they had to learn to adapt.
My parents’ generation was born into the old world and grew up trying to adapt to the new one.
Now my generation was already born into a very international world. For me, it was super normal to study with people of all colours and languages. I grew up with the possibility of getting to know the world one day, and inside of me, this desire developed – to leave the known behind and explore the unknown. Because of the restrictions our parents and grandparents lived in, I feel like our generation developed FERNWEH, the strong urge to explore all that which they never could.
Fernweh is our generation’s challenge.
Why you should Start Traveling
I followed that call to discover this beautiful world and on my adventure, I found a part of myself I never knew before. Travelling changed me. It helped me to transform my life and find my purpose. That is why I love it. Once you step out of your comfort zone, you inevitably start to meet parts of yourself for the first time which will make you grow without comparison.
You are confronted with new people, places and situations every single day. That means you are challenged to learn how to react in situations that you would normally never experience within your daily routine.
You only really grow once you challenge yourself every single day.
And in this way you learn a lot about yourself, get the chance to transform those fears you carry around and turn them into strengths.
I learned so incredibly much on the road – every single culture has so much to teach you – whether it’s how to respect nature, deal with death or create consciousness. You suddenly see that beyond the ideas you grew up with exists so much more – a whole new way to see the world opens up. I learned something from every single person I met and made unique connections that last until this day.
You can create a home in every single corner of this world because everywhere exist good people to connect to.
The freedom I felt travelling alone cannot be described in words. Normally we all follow someone, but travelling you only follow yourself. No one tells you what to do, where to go or when to move. You start to learn how to follow your own intuition and really only spend time with the things you love. I highly recommend everyone to give it a try.
How to Take the First Step
I want you to ask yourself the following 3 questions:
1. Am I stagnant in my life?
Do you feel stuck – like you really need a change in your life in order to advance?
2. Do I really want to change something?
Is the pull to the unknown stronger than the urge to stay in your comfort zone?
3. Am I feeling Fernweh?
Listen very deeply inside of yourself, can you hear the call of Fernweh? Let me give you an advice: Do not ignore that feeling or put it on the same level as sheer Wanderlust. Listen carefully what meaning lies behind your Fernweh.
At one pointing my life I had to follow this call, I just could not ignore it anymore. And it was the best decision I ever took. Personally, I am still feeling the call of Fernweh, because once you start, you will not stop.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is a constant job you need to do – every single day.
Yes, I rediscovered myself, and I also made a lot of mistakes – and was very scared. But you know what – embrace your fear. I still remember very well the first time I sat on a plane to China (which was the start of my very first big journey), and I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, how long I will stay or what was waiting for me. I felt excitement, happiness and a lot of fear at the same time.
Know that once you step out of your well-known habitat, feeling fear is absolutely normal. The feeling of fear reminds you that you are now entering the unknown space of growth – so you should be very happy!
Fear is necessary to invoke transformation.
You just need to start, but start slowly. I did not start travelling to the other side of the world immediately. I recommend you to take baby steps – start exploring your neighbourhood, your city and your country. Plan a little day or weekend trips – and get into the flow of travelling. Let me tell you that you do not need to immediately go on a yearlong solo trip around the world.
Travelling isn’t defined by distance or time, but by leaving your well-known comfort zone.
So just start to move, and you will see how travelling can heal you, too.
My backpack is my best friend, to this day. It has travelled to all countries with me and never failed. I use a Jack Wolfskin travel backpack.
Thank you for appreciating my art!