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.
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.
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.
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.
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.