Whenever I share stories of my travels with friends and family (or the occasional random stranger if they’re interested), they always seem to provoke a similar response: ‘And you did that all by yourself? ‘Aren’t you brave’, ‘Didn’t you get scared?’, ‘Weren’t you lonely?’,’ Don’t you want a ‘normal’ life’, ‘When are you going to settle down and marry then?’. Given, the latter is usually from my Granddad who thinks at 25 my ovaries are soon to seize up and ill inevitably become a lonely spinster.
Anyway, this got me thinking. Obviously, I love travelling, I always have done and I can’t see that changing at any point in the near or distant future. There are an abundance of new things I have learnt and achieved in my life that just wouldn’t have been possible or attainable if I had chosen to stay within the UK. I have made countless friends across the world, pushed myself, both mentally and physically to the extreme and opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at life. For every moment of this, I am truly grateful and will carry these memories with me for the rest of my life.
However, I can’t deny there have been a few downsides to my constant travelling too. For starters, the countless hours spent sleeping alone on airport benches because of delayed flights, language barriers resulting in some really uncomfortable and sometimes scary situations, homesickness, never really feeling settled. The list goes on but honestly? I wouldn’t change those ‘down’ times for the world simply because it has made me the person I am today.
So, if you’re a fellow traveler or you’re thinking of embarking on a travel adventure, here’s a few ‘downsides’ you can probably expect or relate to.
Relationship what now?
You know how it is, you’re on the go 24/7. One week you’re sat in a wooden hut eating sosatie with an African tribe, the next you’re playing table tennis with your new Australian mates in some hip, uptown New York hostel. (Okay, maybe not quite that extreme, but you get the picture). With your life being so unplanned, erratic and last minute, its hard to fit in a quick Skype call to let your family know you’re still alive, let alone maintain an actual, real-life relationship with someone of the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re feeling that too). This is all fine and dandy until you find yourself sat at a table (for one) in some shabby Italian cafe, crying into your pasta carbonara (for two) whilst surrounded by couples staring lovingly into each others eyes to the point where you can practically visualize what’s for desert (and no, it’s not on the menu). In other words, it gets lonely and you’re probably going to be single for quite some time and contemplate investing in a small brood of cats. But some sacrifices are worth it and you’ll thank yourself later when you finally settle down with that lucky someone and have about seven years of crazy travel stories to share.
Homesickness is a catch 22.
Sometimes the days just can’t go quick enough and when you’re missing home, time seems to drag on for an eternity. It’s normally at this point that you start to think about your friends, your family, your pets, real English bacon sandwiches, mum’s early morning cups of tea… all the little things that maybe you didn’t appreciate when you were there… And so it begins, the deep dive head first into the unavoidable swirling pool of homesickness. This, on some occasions has been known to end in an over-priced easy jet flight (bags, taxes and a cup of watery, over-strained tea not included). Yep, I’ve been there. The only annoying this about this is that when you finally make it home, you wonder what all the fuss was about. Nothing has changed. Everyone is still going about their daily routine, completely oblivious to all the wondrous sites your eyes have consumed and it can become very hard to ‘connect’ with those people who haven’t experienced this with you. This can ultimately leave you feeling a little out of place in the one place you thought you missed the most until you decide enough is enough and you’re catching the first flight out of there! And so the cycle begins again. As I said, catch 22.
You missed it kid.
Brothers 21st birthday? Check. Mother’s day? Check. First family reunion in 20 years? Check. Christmas dinner? Just about made it. Chances are, if you’re travelling the world, you’re going to miss a few key events. This is then made 10 times worse when your friends and family decide to start documenting the whole shebang on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Linkedin and the frikkin BBC news….! Queue you simultaneously crying and laughing into your laptop at 3 in the morning in some dodgy run-down Thai hostel whilst your new Swedish roommates wonder if you’re bi-polar. (Yep, been there) Generally I use this time to reflect on all the great times I’ve had on my travels whilst also praying that everyone secretly had a really s*** time at said event without me. (everyone knows I’m the life and soul of the party they just don’t want to admit it).
If you’re looking for that stable life, it aint gonna happen. Unless you’re big, brown, got 4 legs and eat grass heheheheh). You will be living out of a suitcase most of the time, temporary accommodation will take on the literal meaning of ‘temporary’. You will make friends just to part ways before making new friends again, you will have too much money and then no money, you will make plans only for them to be turned upside down and you most certainly will not feel completely comfortable wherever you are because it’s just not home. There will reach a point when you crave nothing more than a warm and cozy bed that you can sleep in on a regular basis, a bathroom that isn’t overrun with ants and shared with 20 other Russian models who shave their toes with your razor and a kitchen where you can cook a real meal instead of loading-up on taco bell every night. In other words, you will crave some form of security or routine. But the fact of it is, as long as you’re consistently on the move, security is something you will never really find until you settle in one place for more than a few months.
Finally and perhaps the most annoying thing about constantly travelling is that once you’ve tasted the sweeter things life has to offer, you begin to crave more and more. Suddenly a 9-5 office job just isn’t going to cut it for you, no matter how good the salary. Waking up to the same scenery every day gets boring, seeing the same people gets repetitive and your list of places to visit gets longer and longer. Unfortunately for most of us this requires working in a stable job for a while in order to save up a bit of money. Just remember whilst you’re slogging it out and wondering when it will all end: a whole new adventure awaits you so just keep pushing through whilst you plan your next adventure!