On my first backpacking trip, I almost booked my flight back to Korea on the third day. It was a month-long trip, but I remembered what my dad said, “You can always change your ticket if you want to come home early.” On the third day, I was lying on my hostel bed in New Zealand, cold, lonely, sick, and scared. I was an oddball who didn’t speak English and was staying at a hostel for the first time. I never even tried the common area because believe it or not, I’m a shy person in nature.
It seemed wasteful to go back on a 12-hour flight after only three days. I came to my senses and went out exploring the great city of Auckland.
When I consulted some travel plans with people in the online travel community, someone said there is a three-day rule in the travel world. The toughest time for a solo/ first-time traveler is the third day, apparently. On the first day, you are too new to recognize anything, the second day you are busy seeing new and exciting things, and the third day, you are realizing you are in a new land alone. Exactly how I felt. Thankfully I got over my third-day fear and became the person who I am now.
When I started working at the engineering firm, some of my superiors said I’ll need to change things in my third year, such as get a new certificate, transfer to another department, or even move to a different the company. The same daily, weekly, yearly routine can be boring they said (no wonder). They were not known for changes, but I witnessed some changes from time to time.
As predicted, I made my change in the third year. I planned to leave, quietly, and made my move in the middle of the year. Typical isn’t a word in my dictionary, but there is a reason why that kind of saying started. The difference was, my move was way more extreme than others.
Now, I Have a Two-week Rule
I’m back in Korea at the moment, preparing for my long-term stay in Borneo. Just taking care of stuff that I could only do here. I’ve been having a great time. Stephen is in Europe on a project, but I’ll see him soon enough. I’ve been working out everyday, eating a lot of home-cooked meals, having productive meetings, preparing AWE ’14, visiting family and friends… no complaints. But three days ago, something melancholy hit me all of a sudden. I didn’t feel like doing anything, felt tired and bored, had no energy, missed my partner more than usual, and got frustrated easily. Then it hit me again, “It’s been two weeks”.
For me, two weeks is enough time to do something out of the ordinary. For me, staying in Seoul for this long is enough. A long-distance relationship isn’t new to me, but two weeks has always been the mark for this feeling. Two weeks of intensive travel makes me want to take a break for a while. Two weeks of quiet time in one little town during my long-term travel makes me want to move again. See the pattern? Two weeks has been the mark for me to go back to the ordinary.
I’ve been on the move since July 2011. Sometimes I stay in one place for a month or two, such as when I visit my family, but I’ve never truly unpacked for the last two and a half years. I finally admitted that I wasn’t a born nomad. I’m very much a home person, who likes to create a comfort zone. As much as the title ‘digital nomad’ is the coolest, I had to face the truth. I need my books, proper desk, morning rituals, tea pot, and a regular work schedule. It doesn’t mean that I won’t travel ever again—it means I want to have a home base to go back to.