Itchy feet or travel bug?
Wanderlust, itchy feet or travel bug are terms used to depict a
strong impulse and longing to travel. ‘Wanderlust’ is a German loan
word. A compound of the two German words ‘wandern’ (to wander) and
Even after man went from nomad to cultivator, it seems that he just
hasn’t been able to shake off that wanderlust. Humans have that undying
need for a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air, the sun, the sea
the sand, etc... etc... I have always wanted to travel my whole life.
To get to the bottom of the phenomenon I talked to a highly
recommended globe trotter. Thishya Weragoda, attorney at law, has
travelled to 30 countries. He has covered almost all of the Eastern
Europe and been to Malasia, Indonesia, Egypt, Czech, Hungary, Poland,
Slovakia, Kosova, Serbia, France, Spain, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“I don’t like to visit the mainstream countries. I like to travel to
countries others don’t consider.” When inquired about his wanderlust
Thishya, who is also an amateur photographer told the Sunday Observer “I
don’t know how it entered my gene pool. But it’s more about capturing
places now, than seeing them. I always make a point to take as many
detours as possible, when I’m required to travel, so I can cover more
He also sees an additional advantage in travelling. “The more you
travel more you come to love your own country.” He explains that seeing
more of the world, it’s diverse cultures, broaden ones horizons.
“Most people are not open to new ideas. It broadens your perspectives
to visit places like Louvre and the London Museum. It really adds value
to your life. Travelling is a great opportunity to enrich your life by
But the question arises is travelling a must? Learning is fine but
learning can be done through watching TV. If I have not seen the Amazon,
Yellow Stone National Park and the Grand Canyon in the Discovery channel
would I have ever yearned to travel to those places?
In which case would this wanderlust one day take man to other worlds?
Kumara Perera has a contradictory view of travelling to that of Thishya.
He claims that he never wants to travel abroad. “And I definitely don’t
want to migrate. But I love to travel within the country.
I don’t know the exact reason why I don’t want to travel abroad, but
I think it’s because I value local stuff and don’t have a ‘western
mind-set’.” An ecologist by profession and tree hugger by nature he says
that he loves going on expeditions to forests, visit panoramic
landscapes and beaches. His objective of travelling is also
contradictory to Thishays.
“I like to observe the natural beauty of the places.” When asked
whether he gets fed up of the travelling that comes with the territory
of being an ecologist, he says that he is used to it. He says that he
has another objective for visiting archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. “I
like to visit archaeological sites, to fathom how people at the time got
by with out the modern technology.”
Actor Roshan Ranawana, who used to work for a travel agency, also
agrees that he does not want to settle down in a foreign country. But
claims that he loves travelling, although he does not get to travel as
much as he would like to because of his busy schedule.
“My mother told me that I used to cry every time we returned home
from family trips. But after I became an actor I got too busy to
travel.” He says he does not differentiate travelling abroad and
travelling within the country. “I enjoy going around the country for
shooting sessions. I like to meet new people, see places. Basically I
Roshan claims that he never wanted to do a desk job where he had to
go to office in the morning and leave in the evening. When asked his
opinion on ‘wanderlust’ he said that it’s because people need change in
life, an alternative to their hectic life, to get that peace of mind.
Daya Dissanayake, the award winning writer, author of the first
e-novel , the Director and General Manager of Nawakrama told the Sunday
Observer that although he likes travelling for pleasure he does not like
travelling for business. “I like to see as much as possible of the
world’s historical sites, like Sigiriya and the pyramids.” He claims
that travelling, with the security measures of today, is such a hassle
that it has taken all the fun out of it.
“It’s fun after you reach a destination, but not while you are
travelling.” He also says that travelling, specially for business, is
unnecessary because of current technology, like tele-conferencing and
video phone facilities. “Most of us have wanderlust. But it’s difficult
for people like me, who work according to a tight schedule to travel
frequently.” However he says that he sees an increase in travel in
present day Sri Lanka.
Medical doctor and best selling author, Dr. Priyanga De Zoysa told
the Sunday Observer that ‘wanderlust’ does depend on the locality.
Citizens of developed countries like US and other European countries
prefer to go on lengthy vacations overseas. But most Sri Lankans will be
content with just dinner at a local restaurant.
“The need for change is a very human phenomenon.” the doctor
explained. “Imagine if the world was full of the same faces, people
wearing the same clothes, using the same language. It would be pretty
boring wouldn’t it.”
He explained that there is a naturally built in variety to the
system. It’s natural for people who are eternally stuck with a desk job
to seek an escape from the mundane. It may be globe trotting or just
dinner at a local restaurant.
“The method of escape depends on ones economy, necessity and the time
available.” In western cultures the vacations fall in line with their
seasonal changes and can extend for months.
“Some like long drives in rugged pathways.” And whatever the
explanation one gives to their ‘wanderlust’, whether it is the learning
experience, meeting new people or seeing places, it ultimately comes
down to one basic need - to feel good. Now to get back to my original
hypothesis, is ‘wanderlust’ a primeval need left behind by humans
initial nomadic life style? “No” says the doctor.
“But is based on concepts framed in people’s minds. Of what a
vacation is or the definition of having fun.” Every person will have a
different opinion, a different concept. “The trick is to have your own
version. To discern what makes you happy without depending on concepts
borrowed from pop culture.”