Journal, Lifestyle


June 22, 2014

There are lots of incredible things about traveling. Typically, when we dream of traveling we think of the crazy adventures, beautiful views and meeting awesome people. We often see it is as being a super glamorous, never-ending fun, adventure.

These are all truths of traveling, but there is also a side that isn’t talked about as often–the unglamorous.

Being a novice traveler, I am happy to admit I was naive about some of the realities of traveling. There are 100% perks along the way, but not every piece is as awesome as it seems.

I put together ten thoughts to show that traveling is not always THAT glamorous.

1) Jet lag

This is a real thing. I felt like a zombie for at least a week. I’m neither a night owl, nor a morning person–at least 8 hours of sleep is a necessity for me.

Long flights are are not set up for deep REM z’s, and it may take a while to get back into the normal sleep cycle. Hence, keep a pair of sunnies handy to hide the zombie-ness and a double espresso in hand at all times.


 2) Limited High Speed Internet Access and Cell Service 

This is a “first world problem” but it’s a reality if your job is online. It’s also really difficult to stay connected to family and friends, book flights, hostels, etc. Maybe most importantly, you can’t check your fantasy football.

3) Electrical Outlets

My hairdryer almost started a bonfire in the bathroom–even with an adapter. In a world saturated with technology, having fully charged phones, computers and tablets can be a necessity. There are outlet converters and adaptors, and what you will need depends on the country you are in, the voltage and type of plug. You can do your research, but still, things happen–such as a bonfire hairdryer.

4) Undrinkable Tap Water

Depending on what country you are in, tap water can be a no-no. In Spain, it is so full of calcium, that kidney stones apparently are a frequent occurrence for people who drink the tap water.

5) Gnarly Sunburns

Most people are not as fair-skinned as me, but if you haven’t seen the sunlight in a while, beware of the sun. I missed a spot on my knee when lathering up the sunscreen, and now I have a giant red splotch on my knee cap. My mother is not going to be happy when she reads this…and everyone who sees me won’t be happy because it looks like I’ve developed leprosy.



6) Unfamiliar Cuisine

Whether or not you have a sensitive stomach, food is different when you travel [duh]. Truthfully, you do need to be a bit careful, depending on where you go just because your body may not be used to certain spices, etc. Our friends slurp down raw eggs every morning like nothing…but I just can’t do it. Some people are more brave than me and are willing to take the risk–more power to ya.

7) Homesickness

The grass is always greener on the other side…or is it? I’ve been surprised with how homesick I have been. I really like adventuring into the unknown, but at the same time when you are this far away, it can feel like you are on another planet. Every place throughout the world has it’s charm, but truly, there’s no place like home.

 8) Language Barrier

It is really difficult when you are completely lost and don’t know ANY of the language in the country that you are in. Thank goodness most people I have run into speak at least a little bit of English, which has been helpful. Also, there’s a ton of travel apps out there like World Lens, Duolingo that can help translate and practice new languages. However, it is really humbling when you aren’t able to express basic levels of communication.

9) Target = Heaven

I have a newfound appreciation for Target. Finding a one-stop shop for pretty much anything you would ever need is not as easy anymore. I can’t find peanut butter [my main food group], salsa, a loofa, or travel sized anything to save my life. It’s weird what things you miss when you don’t have access to them.

 10) WanderLOST

I’m not very good with directions, even in my hometown–so throw in a completely unfamiliar city and a foreign language and I’m done for. Sure, getting lost in a new city can be fun when you discover the amazing hidden local restaurant, but that is not always the case.

Weaving in and out of alleys in 100 degree heat trying to find the bus station is not fun–especially when you can’t find refuge in the one water fountain that you find [stupid the tap water].

Getting deliberately pointed the wrong way when you ask directions from the train conductor is not adventure, it’s rude and annoying.

Getting lost abroad doesn’t always end in some euphoric epiphany of greatness.

Bonus Thought:

11) Creepers

I had to add this because we are at a cafe right now, and some bloke sitting at the table next to us just started snapping pics of me. No joke.

With no shame, he just got his camera phone, holding his arms straight out to focus, ZOOMED and snapped several pics. He didn’t even have the courtesy to turn the clicking noise off, so I knew he took at least five photos.

Now, I’m super creeped out as he is flipping through his photo album, with his legs crossed, smoking a cigar, drinking his beer [it’s 10 am], with his squishy pug at his feet.

Not that creepers are only abroad, but this guy is just something else… So I decided to throw it right back at him–but I’m obviously much more inconspicuous.


In Conclusion…

There are pros and cons to everything in life, including travel. I’m absolutely enjoying this adventure, but I feel a lot of what gets communicated about travel, and a lot of perceptions about travel end up only portraying the good stuff.

Sure, there’s lots of great things about traveling, but it’s not a stress-free, worry-free, pain-free experience.

Though traveling not always glamorous, it helps me grow, and gives me super weird stories to tell. :)

xo Kelsey


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  • Reply Christina June 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Hahaha that last one was hilarious…. maybe he thought you were famous or something?? :) I totally agree with you on these points, and although I know we are still in the US and there ARE Targets outside of Manhattan, I haven’t gone/or can just drive to the nearest one and buyamillionthingsidontneed. I MISS TARGET!!

    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Christina–if he thought I was famous, it must have been one of those “catch the celebrity when they look like a scrub” kind of things ;) Gosh–I am SO with you. We will go on a Target run the next time we are both in SoCal :)

  • Reply Maegan June 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I am having so much fun reading and following along on your travels! When you return home, you should publish a book of your posts. It would make a wonderful keepsake!

    You and Dennis are on quite the adventure, but admittedly, the unglamorous side of travel is often an afterthought until you are in the thick of it. We spent three weeks in Europe last summer and had an amazing time, but our four days in Barcelona without the help of an interpreter were very…interesting. We ended up eating at McDonald’s (which I loathe) almost every morning because none of the restaurants were open at 8-9am. Wandering aimlessly around is also not glamorous with hot, hungry children.

    Zoë and Eden had no problem conversing with anyone. They had a grand time using the Google Translate app to speak to anyone and everyone. Most adults are very patient and friendly when little ones are making an effort to speak in another language. I for one, was amazed at just how much spanish I remembered from high school. It’s gone now, of course, but in a pinch apparently it is still hiding in the recesses of my mind.

    Love you!

    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Hey Maegan! Thanks, that’s such a great idea. Yes–I agree the schedule here is so different. I can’t tell you how many times we have tried to go to the store during siesta! I wish I had taken Spanish in high school… That would have helped a lot! I’ll have to take cues from Zoe and Eden! Love you too! :)

  • Reply Cheryl Sharp June 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I know how you feel…I got lost in Paris once, very scary. Those alleys are interesting though!

    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Yeah, it is scary! Good thing we both made it out though :)

  • Reply Kevin June 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    The grass may be greener on the other side….but it still has to be mowed! Great story Kels and so true. When I played basketball in France the thing I missed the most? Taco Bell! And of course family and friends. Our favorite night was Friday at midnight. American TV for 2 hours. Alfred Hitchcock thriller movies in English. His trademark “Good Evening” lol. They also had this dumb French tv game called DES chiffres et des lettres. I don’t think I ever got one right. You know the old watch french tv to pick up the language? Yeah right! At least on jeopardy I’ll get like one or two right in thirty minutes! Enjoy your travels! Remember it’s all gonna be a memorable experience one day. I’m sitting some 33 years out and wish I could go back…and get a French crepe loaded with nutella!

    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:37 am

      HAHA Kevin, Dennis and I both started laughing so hard when we read this. Gosh, such fun memories from France! I hope we can make some like that. When we go, I will absolutely get a million crepes! :)

  • Reply Klye June 22, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    You know you guys always have a place over here… As I am keeping some of your stuff warm for you. You and Dennis were greatly missed at Walkstar and Abbie’s wedding. Love you sista!


    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:39 am

      Thanks, Kyle! You’re the best :) We are so bummed we missed the wedding–I can’t wait to see pics! Love you!!

  • Reply Rachel June 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    This was so much fun to read. I can relate on so many levels. Megan’s and my travel blog (actually just long Facebook posts) often cover this side of travel…I will have to share some of out tricks. Here’s a sample:
    1) Filtering water. Run tap water through a coffee machine (no coffee, obviously) then find cups/empty containers and cool it right infront of an air conditioner.
    2. Jetleg: totally sucks. While too late for you, get a sleep aid prescription from the Dr, and follow the special timing instructions for several days to beat it! Works like a charm.
    3. Getting lost. Happens all the time and have no good advice here, except that it’s better to not take one person’s word for it, but instead ask for help along the way every 5 minutes.
    4. Sunburn. Find that Aloyvera Gel.
    5,Creepers. Follow your gut on what feels wrong and right. I too often am too friendly and people get the wrong impression. Fun girl, yes–smart girl, even more yes. Stay safe, guys!!

    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Rachel! I need to go back and read all of your posts. GREAT advice and tricks. I will definitely utilize those! So fun to hear from you. I hope all is well! :)

  • Reply Lisa June 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Oh come on, don’t be an “ugly American”. It’s FLATTERING when a creepy guy takes your photo!!

    • Reply Kelsey Heenan June 24, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Haha Lisa, I suppose I should look at it from that side of the coin :)

  • Reply Backpacking Europe: Packing List July 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    […] Last week Dennis and I went to the beach with our friend Andrew in Spain. I had been chirping in Dennis’ ear about wanting to get a functioning hairdryer since my last one almost started my hair on fire. […]

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