Source: Photo by Fabio Di Carlo
Many people would like to travel around the world, to travel and see places, but for some, these remain just dreams that have a very slight chance of happening. They have other priorities and desires in life than to invest time, effort, and resources into traveling.
But, there is the category of people that lies at the other end. They are people that are unhappy when staying too long in one place. We are talking about the ones that feel the urge to catch the next plane, bus, train, any type of vehicle that will take them far away. For them, the destination is not that important, as long as they are traveling. They are happy and fulfilled to see any corner of this world, the further away they get from home, the better. For these people, the word “fernweh” is not just a concept; it is a state of mind, a constant emotion.
You may have heard about wanderlust, which is the need or desire to travel. But fernweh, a word with German origins, takes the desire to travel to another level. It represents more an addiction to travel, a fire that cannot be extinguished only by increasing the distance between the place called home and their next destination.
In fact, these people have a hard time calling a place home, because they don’t feel the need to catch roots in a particular place. This would only make them unhappy because the biggest desire of their lives is to keep on going, from one destination to another, regardless of what that means. If we look at the etymology of this word, it is easy to realize its deep meaning.
“Fern” stands for “far” and “weh” means “pain” or “sickness”. So, fernweh means far sickness or the longing for faraway places. It is the antonym for heimweh, which is homesickness, the desire to return at home because being away causes discomfort and unhappiness.
Fernweh means, an ache for distance place; being homesick for a place you’ve never being.
There is no equivalent for this word in English, but so many people feel it, without knowing how to describe it. It starts by feeling anguish and constant discontentment with one’s current condition.
The life he or she has is not enough anymore, feeling that they’d rather be anywhere else but at home. A person like this will often daydream about discovering new places, completely unknown places, where life is different from what they’ve experienced for their entire existence. It is exactly this idea of the unknown, of unfamiliarity, that stirs interest and curiosity, and the burning desire to seek such places.
Luxury is not a need for people that experience fernweh, a backpack with a few belongings being all they need to start traveling. It is hard for them to stop because there is always a corner of the world that waits to be discovered, an experience that requires being lived.
Although for some the ideal life is indeed one sprinkled with traveling experiences, constantly being on the road takes a toll on someone’s life. There is no stability, no real relationships, and no place to call home, just the turmoil to take off as soon as possible.