If you have an inability to sit still, recurring dreams of speaking in a foreign language, and find yourself lingering around Changi Airport on weekends, I’m afraid the diagnosis is definite. You have wanderlust, a chronic syndrome that afflicts up to 80% of people globally. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it—it will persist through your life, compelling you to travel to places other people would never want to. But we are happy to say that, if your current circumstances prohibit you from leaving your country, there is a temporary cure to this syndrome.
What is it? Well, it is the universal remedy for most modern ills: a Netflix binge. As your (completely unlicensed) doctors, these are the shows we would recommend to wean yourself off your wanderlust. If your case is more severe, then we would recommend the Upside Down versions reflected in a black mirror—but watch them at your own risk.
Eat Pray Love
Theatrical poster for Eat, Pray, Love, Copyright © 2009 by Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
With such a saccharine sweet title, you already know what to expect from this travel movie. Elizabeth Gilbert, the protagonist (played by a very radiant Julia Roberts), loses everything, and embarks on a journey around the world to rediscover what is Important in her life. In Italy, she nourishes her body with food; in India, she feeds her soul with prayer; in Indonesia, she… you get the drift.
It’s the filmic equivalent of consuming an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in one seating. And wanderlust, as its name suggests, can be as painful as the usual, non-wandery variety. So, we’re not judging. Go ahead and eat, pray, love. We certainly have turned to it in our times of wanderlust.
The Upside Down: Lost in Translation
Theatrical poster for Lost in Translation. belong to the distributor of the film, Focus Features, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist, Corey Holms.
If Eat Pray Love is a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is a plate of Uji matcha warabi mochi with shiratama that is as bitter as it is sweet. The movie is set in Tokyo, but it defies all expectations of presenting a spectacle of the glitzy cosmopolitanism of a familiar-yet-unfamiliar city.
Instead, Lost in Translation explores the interior psychology of people: the alienation, existentialism, and unheimlich (unhomely) feelings that arise when one is alone, and unable to communicate with anyone else, in a foreign city. Lost in Translation cautions against giving your wanderlust full reign. Sometimes, the movie says, your wanderlust should be directed inwards, for that is where the most profound experiences can be found.
Samantha Brown’s Travel Series
Image by samanthabrowntravels via Instagram
In Samantha Brown’s 19-years as a travel host, she has travelled across practically all the continents on earth, so whether you are itching to lounge by the beach during a lazy Spanish summer or lose yourself in the labyrinthian alleys of old Beijing, you can bet that Samantha Brown has an episode dedicated to it.
What is especially soothing about the show is its unabashed dedication to extravagance and luxury. Samantha Brown does not sleep in capsule hotels. Please. The show only features presidential suites and spa treatments that anoint her with the essence of moon lily that blooms only during a lunar eclipse when Jupiter is aligned with Saturn.
And this peek into excess, this vicarious pleasure, is exactly what will calm your wanderlust.
Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man
Television Poster for Travel Man: 48 Hours in…, Copyright belongs to IMdb.com
“We’re here, but should we have come?” Richard Ayoade asks at the start of every episode. Each is dedicated to 48 hours in a different city—but even within this short span of time Richard Ayoade, a diagnosed (by me) introvert and homebody, is already lamenting the foreignness and strange ways of whatever country he is in. And his sentiments as he explores the city are always a mix of bewilderment, gentle amusement, or, when he is eating gelato, happiness.
It’s not xenophobia or insularity that Richard Ayoade is displaying, however. It’s a recognition that travel can oftentimes be genuinely terrifying as it literally takes you out of your comfort zone. This is a fact obscured by many shows that only showcase the highlights of the trip, like one of those carefully curated Instagram account.
Ditch those fantasised and idealised pictures of travel. Watch Travel Man instead. It’s the bitter pill that will make you feel better, not the sweet lozenge that will give you diabetes in the long run.
The Amazing Race
Image by theamazingrace_cbs via Instagram
Eleven teams of two travelling around the globe, deciphering cryptic messages, navigating foreign cities, completing culturally specific tasks, and race to be the first across the finish line. The Amazing Race has been such a cultural phenomenon that it hardly needs any additional description.
It’s one of the better cures to wanderlust that we can prescribe here, too. It cleverly mixes the thrill of the unknown with a respect of local cultures, allowing our vicarious sensation of travel to be inflected with education. Throw in the adrenaline-pumping challenges and down-to-the-second sprints, and you will forget that you even had wanderlust.
Take one episode a day, preferably during meals. Its effects will last up to a month.
Image by bigbrotherca via Instagram
What is a reality television show about a bunch of people being cooped up in a television set designed to look like a simulacrum of a house doing on a list about travelling out of your house? If we examine the aetiology of wanderlust, we find that most cases stem from a desire to experience dramatic revelations, heightened emotions, new people and surroundings.
And these ingredients that contribute to wanderlust are precisely what can be found in Big Brother. By inundating your system with the show, your wanderlust will mutate into a form of voyeurism easily satisfied by Big Brother.
But consume it sparingly. This treatment is addictive when abused, and is not a substitute for the real thing.
Seriously. As effective as they are, these are all temporary measures. Go pick up your luggage and book the first flight out.