Many people have this romantic idea of how rewarding, fun, and all around amazing traveling is, and they are right… most of the time. However, traveling can also have many downsides that can catch you off guard.
Constantly being on the move, waking up early for flights, missing sleep because there was a crying baby on the bus, and just being on the move all the time really grinds your nerves down. There will also come a time when you grow tired of constantly sightseeing. Another temple, another museum, another waterfall, another night drinking beer at the hostel. After a while it all becomes very monotonous. The best way to combat this (in my opinion) is by traveling slowly. This gives you time to space out activities and recharge from the bus rides and flights.
Bus stations and airports can get to be quite draining.
It can be lonely.
The best part of travel is the people you meet, and the worst part of travel is also the people you meet. While traveling you’ll meet plenty of amazing friends, some who will change your life forever, however (the vast majority) of these friendships are temporary; the narrator of Fight Club calls them “single-serving friends”. At the end of the week or month or whatever you will part ways and may never interact with that person again. The nature of travel makes relationships difficult to cultivate and maintain.
I’m a person who thoroughly enjoys my solitude, but even I have struggled with loneliness from time to time. The feeling of having so many wonderful experiences, but no one to share them with, can be tough. You can eventually find yourself shutting down in regards to meeting others, simply from saving your self the emotional investment of getting to know another person for such a limited period of time.
All your belongings in one bag. Liberating at first… but at some point it will become at least somewhat difficult.
Living out of a suitcase.
When I first left I was thrilled to have all of my possessions condensed into one bag; it was an incredibly liberating experience. Cutting down your possessions is never a bad idea and I recommend it whether you travel or not. However once I became settled here in Thailand I began to miss things from home, namely my music equipment. I long to play my saxophone, use my keyboard, or get my turntables out and do some DJing. Having been a musician for most of my life it has been especially hard for me to live without having access to these. Also, on a slightly less serious note, I really miss playing FIFA and GTA on my X-Box…
Being out of your routine.
This one is another that was exciting at first, but the longer I am away from home the more it wears on me. I don’t mean things like going to the same bars or restaurants as you usually would or whatever, but things like not having a decent gym or knowing the safe areas to go running. Breaking routine is nice, but at the same time there is a reason why it’s hard to do and it’s not always a walk in the park!
Dealing with visas and immigration gets to be incredibly annoying. Not only is it often confusing, but it also is a big hassle (and expense) more often than not. The forms, visa fees, trips to embassies, doing visa runs, all of these things are part of traveling that you don’t really think of at first, but soon become an all too painful reality. I’m currently struggling with getting a visa to move to Spain, and it’s been not only stressful, but also very demoralizing to realize that something I had looked forward to for so long may not happen simply due to paperwork.
Thai immigration… never a dull moment.
All of these things (and more!) can make travel tough. It’s not always the romantic ideal that it gets made out to be. But if you’re willing to embrace the challenges and remain open-minded and flexible, it’s an incredible experience.