Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/02/2010

Pg. 205: Get On the Road. Go!


It seems like lately I’ve been having the same conversation with lots of people in my life. It goes something like this:

Person Who’s Just Been Brought Up To Date: “Wow, you’ve been traveling for almost a year?! That must be amazing. You must have had the most amazing time. I bet it was glamorous and wild and amazing. What was it like?!”

Me: “It was… amazing?”

Of course, the truth is that it’s been both amazing and awful. Sometimes one, sometimes the other, often both mixed together in the way that can occur only during travel. Beautiful Scottish ocean; ugly Scottish tick that bit me and gave me Lymes. Lovely friends on the way from here to there; awful jet lag and plane-air-induced cold that I brought with me. Gorgeous Portland weather; awful Everywhere Else weather. Being on the go for a year; being on the go for a year.

“Should I be worried about this Traveling Shanna?” another friend asked, and I thought for a long time before I answered her.

“No,” I said. “I’m almost done with this Traveling Shanna.”

That’s true, actually, but maybe I didn’t realize it until I wrote it. For me, one of the great joys of travel is coming home to nest. But, without a nest, that’s impossible, and thus after a while, travel begins to feel less and less like joyful experience and more an more like I’m endless, rootless, uprooted.

April 1 is the end of Chapter 37. On April 2nd, I’ll turn 38, and this chapter of my life will have ended, whether I’m ready or not (although something tells me that I will be). On that day in April, I’ll be at a month-long writing retreat, tucked away from the world on twelve acres of land with nothing to distract me but a friendly dog and some chickens. That feels appropriate somehow, as does my current plan to spend the summer teaching writing in Portland (Segue: I am looking for a cheap, furnished room or a housesitting opportunity in Portland for the months of May and June, by the way, so please give me a holler if you know of anything). I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do after that — Chapter 38 is very much still a blank piece of paper — but I know whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing.

“So you’re homeless now?” one friend asked recently, squinting slightly.

“I would say I’m more…. homefree,” I responded. “Like carefree, only not.”

And that’s true too. There’s nothing easy about life, whether you have a home or don’t. Whether you’re traveling or aren’t. It’s never going to be carefree. But it can be free from a lot of other things, if only you’re willing to let go.

So, for those six remaining readers who I have NOT turned off from their desire to travel the world, here is a fantastic article on how to make what I’m doing into what you’re doing:Β  Ten Ways North America Prevents You From Traveling. It’s all true, and it’s good advice for those of you who want to get on the road and go.

Far and fast, s.


“This sensual yearning for knowledge, this insatiable wanderlust, this long desire.” ~Anatole France


  1. Hey Shanna, thanks for the mention. πŸ™‚ That feeling of being uprooted – I have a strange notion it won’t be the case for me. You’ll have to read and find out. πŸ™‚

    Oh, as for Portland, check out You can do house sitting gigs by putting down a small deposit, which I’m guessing you’ll get back.


    • Thanks so much for the suggestion! I’m already part of House Sitters America, and will check out the one you recommended.

      And I’ll keep reading — don’t worry πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Shanna,

    I’m glad you didn’t say that you were ending the blog at Chapter 38! I was afraid that was coming.

    At least one of my readers thinks my life is rock and roll, but there are negative things about living abroad. I can’t talk to anyone on the street without knowing Thai, and I don’t have any friends in this city.

    Sometimes a person has to weigh his or her values. What is more important–living in a mediocre place surrounded by amazing people and a support network or living in a beautiful city with no one to share it with? Living out of a suitcase gets tiring.

    I am not a collector of things, but there is something to be said about gathering those you love, favorite friends, good cooking utensils, old comfy sweaters, a couple stuffed animals, favorite worn-in books, and nesting in one location.

    But, like you said, “It’s never going to be carefree.”

    • That’s exactly the dilemma I often feel. I don’t -miss- things per se, but then I housesit in some gorgeous, creative, life-filled home and I want those things again for my own!

  3. A month long writing retreat???? I am INSANELY jealous!!!

    • I’m stoked — you can come and visit! There’s an extra bed πŸ™‚

      Don’t be too jealous though. I’ll be plugging away on the VBN (Very Bad Novel). Icky poo. ;p

  4. Thanks for the honesty of it all…I’m sure it’ll all seem/feel alittle different once you’re in a different state (once you’re resettled) and can look back on it with a rosier hue.

    And I’m glad too the blog isn’t coming to an end just because Chapter 37 is.

    Happy early birthday & enjoy the retreat!

  5. You’re a lucky girl (partially at least because you make your own luck)! I enjoy traveling with you, reminds me of me a long time ago. I wandered, house sat, lived on boats and traveled until I was 35, then married and settled down (ugh….not really) raised two young men and am now (at 54) feeling the wanderlust. Trip to Europe last year with my 17 year old stoked the fire. Life is what you make it, so make it a great one

  6. Forgot to say congratulations on the writing retreat. I’m glad that you are making your writing happen. So many writers complain but never make time.

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