Travel Leads to Discontentment

“The more you travel, you come back home, and you feel like you don’t speak the same language. You’ve had these interesting experiences, and for everybody else, it’s just been another week that’s passed. And maybe they went out to dinner, or saw a movie, or whatever it was they did during that week, but in that week, you’ve gone to, say, Kashmir, and you’ve shot all this stuff, and had all these interesting experiences. And there’s a disconnect, and at certain times your friends kind of fall away, because you’re never around, and then, when you come back, the stuff that they’ve been doing just seems mundane, and it’s hard to connect.

But I don’t think it’s that the travel leads to discontentment. I think it certainly exacerbates it, or allows you to delay addressing it, but I think it’s the discontentment that leads to being drawn to these places.”

~Anderson Cooper in BOURDAIN: The Definitive Oral Biography


This Anderson Cooper quote really got me. I remember when I traveled with Bourdain. I KNOW this experience he speaks of. I remember being back from, where, Namibia? Tibet? Laos? And I was at a party and I was just talking about life, about my personal experiences. And I started a story, “Last week, I was in this village in northern Namibia and the people there live on this one cactus, only. The homes were make of mud and the desert white hurt your eyes…” and it was like, I silenced the room. Seriously. I mean, we were drinking beers and people were talking about going to Central Park or a party in Brooklyn, or their kids. How do you add to a conversation about a small village on the other side of the world, a world away? I was never bragging. Never felt like I was saying “I was there, you weren’t.” I just happen to have been there, it was my job. And I wanted to share, to connect. But it made the connection that much harder.


I felt…lonely.


It’s probably one of the reasons I stopped. It’s probably why I got married, why I had children. I needed an anchor, I needed connection. I didn’t travel 1/2 as much as Bourdain, or 1/2 as long. But I did travel a lot for close to a decade. And I’m glad I did. But human connection is important. And most people don’t fly 1/2 way around the world unless it’s a BIG deal, a well thought out and planned vacation. And it’s never to a small village in northern Laos, or to a beach in Liberia. Or very rarely…


I started reading BOURDAIN: The Definitive Oral Biography this past weekend. And it’s brought up a lot of memories for me. I am so glad to was invited to participate in this project. But it is so challenging to connect with it, to consume it, digest it, visit it, remember it. It was probably more challenging for Laurie Woolever to have interviewed all those people who knew a man she loved.


“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life, and travel, leaves marks on you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ~Anthony Bourdain