The Traveler's Syndrome - What it's Like to Be a Rootless Woman


I am Rootless - The Traveler's Syndrome

What it's like to be a rootless woman - Having the traveler's syndrome

I am rootless. I am floating through air. Wherever I am, I seem to be searching for my next destination as I am making my bed. Am I searching for a home? Will I ever find it? Where is home and what does that even mean? The everlasting drive to see the world grows stronger in my heart the more I am fortunate enough to explore it. This is my curse and my salvation. This is my traveler’s syndrome. It’s a virus that spreads through my limbs, making them ache as soon as they rest.

Where are our roots?

The source of every tree, its access to water and minerals, lies in the roots. A tree is anchored by its roots into the earth that builds its home. What if these roots are lost or have never been there?

Mine should be there, having grown up with a loving mom and grandparents in a suburban town that should anchor me to a time and place…but they don’t. For some reason, I feel like home does not mean the same thing to me as to others. All my life I have felt a drift away from this town, away from everything I know into the unknown.

Wandering through the middle of nowhere - one of my favorite pass times being rootless

Wandering through the middle of nowhere - one of my favorite pass times being rootless

Rootlessness: An Identity Crisis

At first, the symptoms start with a wish to go to the next big city. As a little girl, you tell yourself this is where you will find everything you’ve been looking for, this is where you will live your life and have enough. However, soon you realize that this city could not produce the home-feeling you are searching and you keep moving on, hoping to find your roots elsewhere.

At some point, the symptoms of the traveler's syndrome worsen into self-realization, into acceptance that the drift you have been feeling is part of your soul. It is not a drift to a specific place but to the words “pack everything and go” and the experiences this world has to offer. Rootlessness is a drift into nowhere, into freedom and into the endless expansion of your own perspectives. I don’t want to own things that satisfy me for five minutes, I want memories. Rootlessness is the repulsion of expectations of others and the structures that you know of. How can the rootless ever fit into this world with this part of their identity?

Why being a rootless woman is especially challenging

Culture dictates what us women should want. We should be more bound to our home, we should be looking for stability, a life with kids, a loving husband, nowadays a fulfilling job (good heavens I sure hope so). Of course, I somehow want all that. But just not only that.

“But now you are finally done with traveling, right?”

People don’t understand that the flowing need in me to move is not an urge I can satisfy to finally settle down – to come back to the roots that these people think they are part of. A moving train, watching mother nature glide by is where I am most comfortable. They don’t understand that I am disconnected from them, that this drift is not an illness, anymore. No, rootlessness defines me, at least to some part. To some extent, I think every traveler has felt this way when coming "home".

For some unexplainable and stupid reason, a woman not aspiring to fulfill her duty in baking something in her estrogenic oven is still a passive and underlying crime to humanity. Head-shaking and fear for my mental health are only some of the reactions to my numerous trips, or nervous laughing in hope that I would finally turn to quietness. Of course, there are people who understand. I am still young and all... but what if I was 40? Would I be accepted?

Rootlessness is not as accepted in a woman as it is in a man, you can tell me what you want. I don’t want anyone to ask me if my addiction for traveling is coming from not having a father, or if I don’t love my boyfriend enough the stay with him all the time. As if my needs and wants all derive from the inexistence or the inability of men to keep me drawn to them. Like roots of course. Maybe I was born without them.

Taking the jump into the unknown - having no roots 

Taking the jump into the unknown - having no roots 

Who says we can’t have it all?

I am 23 now and have been hoping to be satisfied with a simpler life for over 8 years. Today I decided to stop hoping and accept this part of me. Who says I can never have a family like this? Who says I must follow the path that is just carelessly thrown out for me to stumble on? Instead of questioning my psychological health, questioning my deepest wishes because I feel no roots in my soul, I will keep following my drift to this beautiful world. 

Do you know this feeling?

Help me out here - I can't be alone with this. Share your thoughts in the comments!

What it's like to be a rootless woman - the traveler's syndrome

Like it? Pin it!

We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!

Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!

Rootless? Write about it for FTC!