Surfing Greg RachelGreg and I walk hand in hand across the tawny sand of Playa Hermosa on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.

He carries a surf board beneath his arm. It's my first attempt at surfing (because the last time we had the chance I was 7 months pregnant in Nicaragua).

Greg helps me by holding the board and I'm able to catch a few waves, scrambling to a standing position once or twice before falling off.

Later, after our beach BBQ, the kids get a surf lesson from our local tour guide, then catch some waves, chase hermit crabs and dig impermanent holes in the sand before we watch the sun set together.

We have a good life.

But during the very next week we're dreaming of heading to Europe, or sailing the coast of South America.


Why dream of being someplace else? Why wish for what you don't have? Why that inexplicable desire for far off places?

Where does that inner longing come from? I mean, isn't wanderlust for people who have cubicle jobs and live Groundhog Day?

Are you supposed to dream of exotic lands while you're currently living in one?

Wanderlust begins simply enough. A picture. A conversation. A chance meeting.

My mom and her husband were discussing their housesitting opportunities.

France. New York. Bulgaria.

Next thing you know we're imagining what it would be like to have a 'new' experience in a 'new' culture, then we're looking up flights and checking GoEuro to compare trains, planes or just driving to explore. I even catch myself daydreaming about biking Europe like Christine Gilbert, or hiking The Camino like Jennifer Miller.

It all happens so quickly, we hardly know what's transpired, until (at least in our mind) life is taking a completely different course.

The day after mentally planning our trip to Europe, while buying organic peanut butter and herbed cheese at the farmers' market in Montezuma, we meet Honey.

I noticed Honey when she walked up, with her long, wavy, sand-colored hair, and bronzed, lined face. And I noticed that she noticed us. (Our large family kind of sticks out).

I heard her say one word to a friend. "Children..."

"Does she despise, or admire, our large brood?" I wonder.

I find the answer when she starts up a conversation. A mother of nine, together they've homesteaded, started a hippie commune, built their own boat and sailed from Oregon to South America. She birthed her babies at home, a few of them in Costa Rica, and was an original 'worldschooler' -- a pioneer of family travel.

Now her children are all grown, traveling and making their way in the world -- confident, competent and capable.

(On a side note, her husband, Heart, is a barefoot triathlete, and her son competes professionally at the Olympic level. We discovered during our conversation that Greg competed in an Xterra Triathlon with them in 2008 in Tambor, Costa Rica. They own 300 acres nearby.)

Some conversations, encounters and connections are impactful. This was one of them.

After saying goodbye, Greg and I could only think and talk about our meeting with her.

And before you know it, once again we're changing our plans, buying a boat, and sailing the coast of South America.

A few nights later, Greg says to me:

One of the best (and most frustrating parts about our life is that we'll never know where we'll be next year."

And it's true. Any one of these crazy notions just MIGHT come to pass... we never know, until next year rolls around and we say to ourselves, "Wow, did you ever imagine that we would be here?"

And I guess that's why wanderlust is good for us, for you, for everyone.

Wanderlust gives you a dream, a goal, a purpose that is exciting, enticing and scary all at the same time.

It gives you something to think about, to daydream about, to wish for and plan for and long for. Because longing gives you motivation, and motivation leads to action, and action leads to results.

Unless, of course, you ignore it, and try to stuff it down deep inside with the excuse (or belief) that it will never happen to you.

From our experience, you never can tell.

It just might.

But only if you let wanderlust take over. Give it place in your life. And then watch the magic happen.



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5 Responses

  1. Matt

    I couldn’t agree more. If you feel something deep down, something you just can’t quite explain, you HAVE to go through with it. If you don’t, it’s very likely that you will never reach your full potential. You’ll never feel a true sense of peace with your life. If you feel something pulling at your heart strings, embrace the fear and all of the other feelings and just go for it!

    Thanks for the post, needed the inspiration today!

  2. Catherine Forest

    Yes, yes, yes! I keep nodding my head every time I read your posts! I could not agree more!! We do need wanderlust. It is what lights my fire!

  3. RussosAbroad

    I love your travel blog! I enjoyed reading about your traveling adventures as a family and a couple and I want to follow you to keep up on your blog but I’m not sure where to hit “Subscribe” or enter in my email address? My husband and I are about to embark on our own travels in Europe for 3-4 months and would love fellow travelers follow us and give us advice along the way! Our website is 😀


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