So while travel is wonderful and amazing and yada yada, there are some things about it that don’t make in into the picture albums or those cutesy/annoying Facebook status updates. These are the downsides to travel.
Perhaps a more optimistic way of looking at it is that travel is all about growth, and these are just growing pains.
But sometimes, travel is just plain ol’ hard and instead of soaking in the amazing environment of the jungles of Belize, you’re slapping giant mosquito off you and trying to avoid those ginormous ants crossing the path, which means you missed seeing the monkey in the tree again and all you really want is a nice shower and a nap back home.
So without further ado, here are my top five reasons that travel is hard.
1. I like A/C
I admit it. I really, really love central heating and air. And for some reason it really only caught on in the U.S. The same is true about ice, actually. I remember being surprised in Ireland when I got a coke without ice in it. There’s a whole story behind how American were forward-thinking and snapped up the ice trade and industry in the mid 1800’s and have never looked back (I mean, really, ice cream is an American delicacy). For more about the history of ice, head over to Mental Floss. Or read Bill Bryson’s excellent book At: A Short History of Private Life.
But air conditioning something I love. And even in Europe, it’s normal to sweat over your dinner. Farther south, you’re doing a lot more than glistening over supper. And the first day I was in Nicaragua, I thought I might die of dehydration. (I didn’t). But I did want to go to the air-conditioned movie theater every weekend, no matter what movie was playing. It’s kinda rough going without.
2. I like knowing how the shower works
Nothing makes you feel stupid more than not knowing how to work appliances. It’s bad enough in a friend’s home. It’s worse in another country with different plumbing, voltage, and connections.
Actually, I liked knowing how everything works. The first time I stepped into a shower in the UK I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Turns out there was a string outside the shower I had to pull. Felt like an idiot when I had to get a girl to step into the bathroom with me to show me how.
3. I like knowing where everything is in the kitchen, and only eating what I like
This is somewhat similar to knowing how the shower works. And it’s all related to being outside your comfort zone. Kitchens, at least in the West, tend to be the gathering place and the hearth of the home. Food is important in almost every culture, including our own. Being in another country means not only getting used to someone else’s timetable, home, household traditions, and food, but forgoing your own. And sometimes all you really want is just a little piece of home.
4. I always forget toenail clippers. And when I do remember, they don’t fit in my suitcase
The best way to travel is to travel light. But gosh dang it, sometimes I just want to take care of myself. You know, take care of my feet and keep the finer details hygiene going. And I either forget half of my toiletries or I can’t fit them all. Or you fit them, and the airport security throws away your makeup remover because the bottle 10 milliliters over the maximum, even though the remover is half-used up. Travel (unless it’s luxury travel) means going without the finer things in life for a little bit. At least for me. If anyone has any ideas on how to have the comfort of your own bathroom in your suitcase, please let me know!
5. It is exhausting to always be with people you only met a month ago.
I’m an introvert, so perhaps this hits me harder than others. But I’m certain even extroverts want to be around people they love and know, who also love and know them back. I didn’t visit my home for 15 months after I moved to Florida, and when I finally returned for a four-day visit I just wanted to cry. Even people who I had never been close to were special suddenly, just because they were familiar and I knew I had lived down the road from them for 10 years. Constantly meeting new people means constantly explaining how to pronounce your name, doing small talk, and figuring out what type of humor this person will understand and enjoy.
Travel is beyond worth the annoying things I face. Most of these things are small, comparatively speaking to what great things travel provides, but these things do make you frustrated.
What are some difficulties you face when traveling?