There are three parts to every journey: the initial planning and anticipation, the actual trip, and finally, the memories. When I find myself in the "planning and anticipation" phase of a trip, I become giddy with excitement. Planning a trip is what keeps me sane for the rest of the year -- it's my carrot at the end of the stick.
The first phase can be daunting for the independent traveler. This is when you do your research, buy appropriate guidebooks and maps, plan the logistics, book airline tickets, make hotel reservations (or not, depending on how you're traveling) decide on an itinerary, or perhaps just have a general idea of where you want to go. For the older traveler with responsibilities back home, this usually calls for making difficult travel compromises due to time constraints, especially if you are an American.
Anticipation is the exciting part of the first phase. This is where you imagine yourself on your journey participating in the activities you enjoy. When it gets close enough, you start counting down the days until your travel adventure begins. One month to Peru, two weeks to Peru, one week....five days...four...three...two...one!
The second part of a journey is, well, the actual journey: the physical aspect of traveling. You go from point "A" to point "B" to point "C", either by planes, trains, automobiles, buses, donkeys or whatever mode of transportation might be available along the way. You participate in activities that you enjoy: hiking, exploring ruins, exploring local markets, learning about the local culture, hanging out at cafes, photographing, eating at local food stalls, dining out at fine restaurants, sampling the local libations, and the list goes on. We each have our own list of the things we enjoy doing while traveling.
Of course, it is worthwhile to remember that not only "life" but "travel" also happens while we're making other plans. So, inevitably there will be some mix-ups but that is another way to distinguish a traveler from a tourist. An experienced traveler knows to "go with the flow" and to be flexible.
One of the ways I knew that I was infected with "wanderlust" was that I was never ready to go "home" from a trip. I realized early on that this was very different from the feelings most "normal" people experienced. So, the end of a travel adventure for me was always followed by a bout of depression. I call it "post-travel disorder" (PTD) and I'm sure some of you have experienced this.
Somewhere along the way, however, I realized my "three parts to every trip" theory and it helped me to deal with my PTD. The memories, ahhh the memories are the third part of a journey. Those include actual memories, mementos, photos, a travel journal, etc.... So, now I feel better able to deal with my PTD!