After three weeks in India, I gave up on long travel and returned to London. Not because India was loud, noisy, too dirty, too much. It was perfectly pretty and much less trouble than I expected... but no matter what I tried, I couldn't bring myself to feeling it. To be honest, I haven't really felt it since my month in Vietnam in December 2011. The minute the plane touched down in Heathrow, I knew I was in the right place. It was the right place all along (although if Japan was more gay and woman friendly, it would be a fierce competitor).

Reviewing two years of almost full-time travel, I have to admit that I'm bad at long term travel. Moving every couple of days or even weeks is not for me. I am flexible and love change, but I'm also a homebody. I need somewhere halfway steady: a kitchen equipped to my needs, a wardrobe with choice, a desk and bookshelf of my own. No more, but no less.

Creativity does not come to me on the road, and neither does the peace of mind to work consistently on any other project.

So, back to London, the city I fell in love with 10 years ago and that hasn't (emotionally) let me go since.

Will I stay here all my life? 
British people have always loved to ask me: so, when will you return to Germany, and my answer is: when am unable to make a living here (which, after I qualify for benefits even in case I should be unable to work, is highly unlikely).

London has always been and will be my home, and I'll keep returning. If I ever buy a house/flat, it will be here. I can see myself packing up things in London to live somewhere else for half a year to a year several times in the future. When I like a place, I want to know everything about it, live like the local, become fluent in the language, learn to cook like a local grandmother. When a place doesn't captivate me enough for that, I always feel that my trip there is just 'all right' after the sightseeing phase has worn off.

What will the future bring?

I see lots of short trips within Europe and 2-3 week trips elsewhere in the world. But the space in between is not for me – I'm an expat. Neither a tourist nor a backpacker. Nomadic, but knowing exactly where it is that I belong.  

In this big, overpriced, dirty, rough, beautiful, wonderful city that is the only place where I feel 100% like me.

What kind of traveller are you? Long term traveller? Expat? Short term vacationer or armchair traveller?


  1. Good luck with the next stage, Steffi!

  2. i was glad to see and hear about your travels while you were enjoying them. i'm also glad to hear you're settling down because you want to; not because you were forced to.

    i'm a lover of people, culture, and food when i travel. i don't care so much about the big tourist sites or a luxurious travel experience (although both can be nice from time to time). i love the foreign languages i've studied-- i love their nuances, accents, dialects... if i ever had the opportunity to travel again, it would be to an area where i spoke the language. i also love big cities and their architecture. on my list of dream travels to places is London because i'd love to see those gorgeous buildings/bridges/neighborhoods in person.

    i think i was a wanna-be expat for awhile, but i don't make a good foreigner-- i'm too hard on myself over any and all mistakes i could make when speaking a foreign language. i also get frustrated over the long term because i too often feel like i don't belong for one reason or other.

    for me, i find it really important to have a home base. it helps me to center myself when i can be around people i know well and who know me. those kind of relationship bonds are really important and hard to maintain when travelling. travelling-- and especially travelling alone-- can be good, but (and i'm really speaking about what i've learned about myself, not you or what you've done) i think it's foolish to think that travelling will lead you to very many new insights about yourself. i think it's more important to focus on enjoying the experience rather than a cultural implication for necessary self-reflection. /rant

  3. Thanks Craig!

    Rachel, I think travel can lead you to many new insights about yourself if you push outside your comfort zone - but I guess it's true that you can do it at home, too!

    I don't mind so much not being around close friends, I'm used to that since childhood and need lots of 'me' space. It's more of a 'space for myself' thing, and being somewhere that I am completely accepted and nothing I say or do is seen as 'odd'. Where I can go to a vegetarian pub and listen to a friend speak about his multiple boyfriends and nobody turns their head (ahem, so that's what I did last night!). Not many places tick that box.

    Oh and you are welcome in London anytime but currently would have to share a bed with me (against all the CS rules) ;) !

  4. totally understand the feeling, for me the best about Traveling is you always knowing you are going home...well take rest .. maybe soon you will be on the road:p


Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive