The Soul of Wanderlust


Deep, somewhere inside of me there are raging neurons that only come alive when I’m heading into the abyss of something new, something exciting. I patiently save a wait until I set my mind on an adventure that I suddenly can’t keep my mind off. My mind races at a million miles an hour and my patience shortly runs out, to the point where I question grabbing my bag a leaving at that very moment only to realize I would get stranded half way there because I’m not a trust fund baby and have yet to win the lottery. Damn.

My mind is always in at least 5 different countries and 10 different cities.

“I want to go here next, NO WAIT, definitely here next! Wait how much would both be? Nope. Okay……OMG WHAT ABOUT HERE”

A small glimpse of a day in the mind of Shalee.

As much as I constantly dream and hate that I dream more than I can do, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’d rather over dream than under dream. But then when a dream turns into a plan, the plan turns into an actual trip and trip actually happens it is complete bliss. That moment I actually realize that something that was a dream is actually real, that I really made it happen, it makes all the stressful ‘will I have enough money?’ and ‘I hate feeling broke all the time’ moods worth it. Getting on a plane for me is the equivalent of walking the red carpet for a celebrity. I feel accomplished and that all my hard work has finally paid off.


Being from a small town in Michigan I never knew how diverse and absolutely awesome the world could be. Growing up I was always immensely curious of the world. I think my parents always knew it was in me. The good thing about that is their never surprised with whatever crazy adventure I plan next. However, wanderlust is a passion that separates me from my other love; my family. It’s something that kills me when I think of leaving for long-term, but I know they would hate to be the reason I held back from my dreams.

This kind of soul is heartbreaking, yet rewarding because I am lucky enough to go after what I believe in but at an opportunity cost of not being around the ones I love.

The thing that constantly keeps me going is guts. Not so much bravery–show me a spider and I will cry, but the strength to be different than 99% of the rest of the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing life wrong because I’m not even remotely close to being ready to settle down. Then I realize that more people than I think want to travel and see the world, but feel like they can’t. Knowing that hurts me. Everyone should go after their dreams. That’s one of the main reasons I started this blog, to show others that they aren’t doing life wrong if they choose a route like this.

If you love travel as much as I do, you know how hard it is to spend money on anything. Every time I buy a $5 coffee I regret it about fifteen minutes later. Going out and having to spend $50 on a new pair of work pants because one of the only three I have finally took a poop is the worst feeling. Absolute worst. I recently bought a Gopro and don’t get me wrong it’s the coolest purchase I have made in a long time, but forking out the money sucked. I mean that would’ve been a plane ticket or a week in a hostel. Every purchase hurts.

But then again I can’t just sit around in the time between saving up for a trip. I need to be doing something. That’s where my close to home wanderlust comes in. Weekend beach trips, snowboarding, best friend road trips, cliff jumping, hiking, basically anything that gets me out of the house without having to empty my pockets.


What continuously brings me to travel is the people, the experiences and the cultures. I’m always waiting to walk down a city street that I’ve never seen before and turn the corner to a café where I can eat breakfast and have a fascinating conversation with a waitress I may never see again. I love sitting next to another traveler, here their stories and find out why they are here and what they plan on doing next. Sit me down and tell me your life story and what inspires you, I’d love to listen over a warm cappuccino.

I’m a storyteller, but I also love to be the listener.

Opening up your ears, you learn a lot about the world. You learn what a country is really like and what the people are really like. You’d be surprised to learn that a majority of the French do not hate Americans and that people from Iraq are extremely kind. It lets you learn that what we see on the moving screen while sitting on our butts in the living room is complete bullcrap. They report to sell, not to truly inform. Wanderlust and experiences let you know that the world is good.

Sure, bad things happen and it’s terrible that they do, however you can’t let the fear of it happening hold you back from something you really want to do. If you live your whole life in your house listening to CNN your going to die unhappy and scared and I think we all can agree those are the worst feelings in the world. Don’t let the storm make you wait for the sun, just run into the rain and you’ll see it doesn’t burn.

Traveling to Egypt to see the pyramids is a lot safer than half the cities in the United States. Yet Americans seem to be the ones who are the biggest skeptics.

So to all you Nervous Nelly’s reading this thinking I’m going to get kidnapped, get your panties out of a bunch and realize when I talk about meeting new people I don’t mean I’m going to meet someone who will end up inviting me back to their apartment that’s down a back ally to ‘talk’ and I’ll go and you’ll see me on another negative CNN broadcast about a girl abroad who goes missing. That’s stupid.

Being smart yet cautious gets you a long way in traveling. Trust you instincts, you can’t always prevent bad things from happening, but don’t be an idiot and you have a better chance of survival.


Something that allows me to make such great memories while traveling is being open-minded. I live for the unexpected adventures.You can’t go into a trip thinking you know everything about a city/state/country and you definitely can’t show up with your trip planned down to every detail. Leaving room to wander and meet new people will give you those unexpected memories that usually have the lasting impression. If your closed-minded while traveling you might as well have stayed on your couch at home because you’re not going to have any experiences. You’ll probably just end up hating the place.

Being open minded leads to conversations with the table next to you about how shitty the public transportation is or having a conversation with your roommate from Germany who is traveling alone and instead of saying peace out and good luck, you give her your map of the city and circle all the places you thought were fun to visit and maybe join her. Having conversations and being kind to people can create a lot of positives. I mean hell, Kalee and I once made conversation with a girl who ended up escorting us into the most renowned club in Toronto, waved the cover charge and then the bartender gave us free drinks. All because we took time to make conversation. Instead of judging the table of girls next to you at the restaurant, ask them if they’re from here. If they are get some tips on where to go; if they’re travelers, compare notes and maybe you’ll have something on your list that they didn’t or vice versa. Who knows, your one or two man group could turn into a four or six man group by the end of the night.

I live for moments like that.

Constantly, I find myself staring out of an open window, thinking about how the sun is shining somewhere else. Not because I hate where I am, but just out of wonder. I wonder who’s at the base of the Eiffel Tower at this very moment or who is standing on top of a mountain and screaming their accomplishment to a world that isn’t listening.

It’s a combination of passion, wonder and risk. The passion to want to explore, the wonder to the unknown and the risk of failing. If you live your life with no risk, you will have to settle for the ordinary. If you wonder about the unknown, you will have to be brave enough to find out. If you have the passion to explore, you will have to take the first step.

So where is my wanderlust pushing me now?

Everywhere. I won’t spill too many beans but I’ll let you know that other than a few domestic trips in the future I’m saving my little butt off for a long term travel goal. If I can save enough, 2016 global travels are coming my way!



  1. Between the Contours on February 21, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    I love this. You totally hit the nail on the head. Wanderlust is a damn beautiful addiction. I live everyday obsessing about taking my next trip. Heres to your next adventure!

    • ShaleeWanders on February 25, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Thank you! Heres to yours as well 🙂

  2. Jen on February 21, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    I will always pray for your safety on your adventures (even though I know you travel smart)!


    Your Favorite Nervous Nelly

  3. MaryMaryWhy-U-Bugging on February 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Wowzer! I have been inspired by your post. This is how i feel.

    • ShaleeWanders on February 25, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      My favorite thing to here is that I inspired, thank you 🙂

  4. sillynditzy on February 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    I think it’s great that you don’t let fear hold you back. When I take a step back and look at myself objectively, I think a lot that holds me back is the fear. Fear of the unknown, potential pain, and failure. But it’s encouraging to see that taking the risk despite any fear can be worthwhile. Thanks for the awesome post!

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