There is a disease that affects millions of people globally. It’s rarely talked about, but its impact is often felt. Symptoms include a constant yearning to see new places, non-stop thoughts about planning the next trip and an inability to stay in one place for very long.
That sickness is the travel bug. There is almost no known cure, but symptoms can be treated with more travel. The problem is that by travelling, it makes you want to travel even more! This reinforces itself in a constant cycle.
If you have it, that’s okay because I do too! To help you self-diagnose to see whether you’ve caught on this bug, here are 33 signs you might have the travel bug:
1. You can basically sleep anywhere
Countless long flights, bus rides, train rides, unfamiliar beds in dorms full of snoring travellers and strange hotel rooms have hardened your ability to doze off on demand. You also probably have a white-noise app on your phone to help you drown out the noise.
2. You have foreign currency in your wallet
From Dollars to Pesos, Euros to Rubles, Bahts to Shekels, you’ve managed to inadvertently collect an eclectic mix of currencies from trips over the years. Most of it is pocket change that you can’t spend but hey, at least your net worth is 6 figures in Colombia!
3. You're expert packer who can pack super light
You’ve managed to hone your packing skills over the years to only pack the bare essentials. In addition to being a minimalist, almost every item in your luggage probably has a dual-purpose; those swim trunks double as gym shorts and that t-shirt can be used as a towel in an emergency.
4. You know how to travel hack
You’ve spent hours researching the credit cards with the best sign-up bonuses and rewards offers. Earning miles and points to fly for free isn’t just a hobby, it’s an obsession. You’re also a geek and know what terminologies such as CPM / CPP, MS, 5/24 and SPG mean.
5. You live in a sparsely furnished apartment
You prefer to spend your money on experiences and trips rather than material things. What’s the point of buying new furniture if you’re not going to be in one place or home for very long anyway? That new couch and TV could fund another month of travel in XYZ country!
6. You can haggle with the best of them
Dozens of trips to markets in countries with a barter culture means you’ve learned to play the game from the best. From Thailand to Vietnam, Colombia to Peru, Egypt to Turkey, you never accept the first offer and can get 40-60% off the initial asking price with a smile on your face.
7. You know there’s no such thing as getting lost
What normal people deem as “getting lost” is just another opportunity for you to roam and improvise. In fact, you relish in being able to explore without expectations and may even allow yourself to “get lost” without a purpose so a spontaneous encounter can find you.
8. You’ve read and watched most of the classic travel books and movies
9. You have more travel photos than “normal photos” on your Facebook
Normal people post pictures of their dogs, babies, cars and funny videos, but all you do is make people jealous with photos of places you’ve been. You know that Mark Zuckerberg and co. are probably spying on you, but your albums are a repository of all your travel photos over the years and as such are too valuable to delete!
10. You have maps in your bedroom, living room and even the bathroom
Who needs wall art when you have maps? Some people see cities and countries as “just places on a map” but you see possibilities, places and potential. You may even have a scratch off world map or one filled with pins to keep track of all your travels.
11. You have more friends abroad than you do at home
Naturally, as a vagabond, you tend to know people from all over the world. Some of them may even have shared a few adventures with you. These shared experiences means you have a rolodex of cool, open minded people to hit up should you ever visit their home towns.
12. Your bucket list reads more like a places list
Some people’s dream lists have things like “own a Ferrari,” “write a book or “run a marathon.” Yours read more like “hike the Inca Trail in Peru and see Machu Picchu,” “scuba dive in Thailand, “ride a camel and see the Great Pyramids.” That Ferrari and book deal can wait.
13. You are extremely resourceful and flexible
Travel long enough and unexpected obstacles are bound to arise. This forces you to become an adaptable problem-solver who can think on your feet. Is the bus late by eight hours? No problem, let’s find something to do. Did a blockade force you to stay a night in a strange town? Alright then, let’s find a place to stay. Whatever problems are thrown your way, you cooly deal with it and not much stresses you out anywhere.
14. You speak three or more languages and want to learn more
You realize that you need more than just English to travel the world smoothly and to connect deeper with the locals. You find language learning to be deeply satisfying and actually kind of addictive. It also opens up parts of your personality you didn’t know you had, as if you feel like a slightly different person when you speak it.
15. You know what the exchange rates are for many currencies
Just roughly off the top of my head: $1 USD is equal to roughly 3000 Colombian pesos, 20 Mexican pesos, 4 Brazilian Reals, 30 Thai Bahts or €0.90 Euros… Did I mention that I’m Canadian?
16. You grill people who recently went on trips
The FOMO is strong, and you’re always looking to see if they know something you don't, and to add some golden nuggets to the travel encyclopedia inside your head. Maybe there’s an amazing bar that’s not in the guidebooks, a perfect Instagram photo spot, or they have a cousin there you can potentially couch surf with in the future. Either way, you’ll find the intel.
17. You have too many travel apps installed:
Well used staples on your smart phone include: Google Maps, Google Translate, Uber, EasyTaxi, Airbnb, XE Currency Converter and Yelp.
You’re glad modern technologies makes travel so much easier and convenient. Remember the days when you had to go to an internet café to check emails on 56K dial-up, or when you actually had a carry a physical map with you? Yeah, me neither.
18. You understand more airport codes than a normal person should
When you chat with your travel buddies, you refer to cities by their airport codes. A mini RTW trip from YVR to PTY, with a quick stop over in MDE to GRU, followed by a red eye to LHR, before flying into IST and home via FRA sounds like a decent adventure.
19. You’ve seen every episode of Anthony Bourdain’s (RIP) No Reservations, Parts Unknown and The Layover
You think you’ve “discovered” an unassuming restaurant in a strange city, only to find a photo of "Tony" on the wall with the owner. Your list of places to eat include places he’s been on these shows because he knows best. "Tony" is an absolute legend and one of your dreams was to sit down to share a meal with him before he left us too soon.
20. You know who Nomadic Matt, Keirsten the Blonde Abroad and the Bucket List Family are
You’ve probably spent too many hours over the years reading travel blogs and checking out travel bloggers’ Instagram pages. That said, you’ve learned a lot from these savvy travel vets over the years and hope to buy them a drink for their troubles one day!
21. You carry toilet paper in your backpack
This is the mark of a true backpacker and traveller. It’s supremely useful, especially for long bus / train rides in second or third world countries. You don’t even care if people judge because it’s come in handy way too many times to count.
22. You have a travel playlist on your phone
You have a specially curated playlist to get you in the travel mood. There’s nothing like the sound of freedom to keep you company on long bus rides and waits at the airport.
23. You’re frugal at home because your money goes much farther abroad
Why spend $7 for a beer in your hometown when you can get THREE beers for the same price in Asia or Central Europe? Or waste $20 on brunch when you can get a delicious fish taco for $2 in Mexico? You view value differently and know that things cost much less in other parts of the world.
24. You can tell where people are from by their accents
Despite this, you still ask “where are you from?” to see if you’re right as it’d be rude to just assume. Once they tell you, you’re likely to be able to tell them something about their country that pleasantly surprises them, and a good conversation ensues.
25. You have memorized your passport number long ago
You’ve filled out customs paperwork and hostel / hotel check-in forms so many times that it’s burned into your memory. Besides, it’s much easier to memorize it than having to whip it out from your travel wallet every single time to check.
26. You dread the day your 35-page passport will run out of pages
You’ve used up over half the pages in one year of travel alone and it’s a colorful collage of entry / exit stamps and visas. How is this thing supposed to last you ten years?!
27. You know off the top of your head the visa requirements for most countries
You probably have a Wikipedia page bookmarked just for reference. 90 days in the Schengen Zone? Of course. Visa-upon entry in Egypt? Ok. $200 for a visa to Brazil? Better start saving!
28. You need to buy a second fridge for all the fridge magnets you collected
You’ve bought many of these over the years as they’re easy to carry around, affordable and relatively unique. However, your fridge is now out of room for all of them – talk about first world problems.
29. You find creative ways to save money and fund your travels
Although there are ways to save money on travel, it’s still a hobby that costs a small fortune once all the trips add up over the years. You are constantly on the look-out for extra hours at work, side-hustles and even investments to fund your next adventure.
30. Your friends and acquaintances always ask you where you’re going next
You respond with a surprisingly detailed, city-by-city itinerary breakdown and you’re not sure if that look on their face means they regret asking or are just very jealous.
31. You find it extremely difficult to answer when people ask you for your favourite country
It’s not that you don’t know, you simply have too many favourite places in the world to give one straight answer. It would not do the other places justice to just pick one. As a result, you respond with “well, it depends…” and settle with a top three.
32. Your best stories start with, “when I was in…”
You’ve seen and experienced some interesting, bizarre and downright crazy things on the road. This vast collection of memories means you can relate to many conversation threads and spin it into a tale of your own. The challenge is to not constantly talk about them unless asked as people can think you’re trying to one-up them.
33. You feel at home everywhere in the world, except at home
Travelling changes you. It forces you to become comfortable being uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. At the same time, it’s terribly exhilarating to embrace the unknown. This can make home seem boring and you’re constantly craving the next adventure.
If you've checked the box for one, a few or all of these, it means you’ve definitely caught the travel bug! Luckily, it’s life-enhancing condition that will bring you to some fantastic parts of the world and utterly change you for the better.
How many of of these checkboxes apply to you? Leave a comment and let me know!
Until next time,