Realities of Travelling

To a casual social media observer, our travelling adventure looks like one incredible experience after the next. It looks as if every day is more fun than the last. The truth is it’s not really like that – there are certain realities of travelling that ever long term adventurer will be familiar with. There are bad times to go with the good, and on occasion it can be tough. I’m writing this blog post in an attempt to dispel the myth that long term travelling is just like a long luxurious holiday break.

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If you look through my Instagram profile, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every day is amazing. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re having an incredible, once in a lifetime adventure and I love travelling. I don’t want people to think I’m complaining. However, I feel an obligation to let people know there’s a bigger picture here. There’s are certain realities of travelling that we don’t often share. If you go travelling, here are some of the difficult realities of travelling you should expect.

You’ll get sick. Whether it’s something you ate, or you got caught in a storm in a t-shirt, at some point you’ll be ill. And you’ll be thousands of miles from any home comforts. Today is the 7th day we’ve been holed up in a guesthouse in a remote Thai island (read about that here). We’ve got second degree burns from the sun in Thailand. We’ve spent more time applying aloe vera and in hospitals in the past week than we have outside. Mary even needed a wheelchair.

You’ll spend an ungodly amount of time actually travelling. Every 2 to 3 days we spend an entire day on a bus, train or boat. That’s just what you have to do if you have a lot of places you want to see. They’re often hot, sweaty and don’t be surprised if you have to stand for 5-6 hours.

You’ll never find the perfect place to stay. Either there’ll be no hot water, no air con, it’ll be dirty, there’ll be ants, the bed will give you a bad back or a whole host of other things (we once had a bathroom infested with giant cockroaches). Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

You’ll never get enough sleep. Everything you want to do starts early. You’ll either be getting up early to avoid the heat or to board a long bus to the next place. You’ll stay up late to meet other tourists.

You won’t do everything you planned and you won’t see everything you wanted to see. Sometimes buses don’t run for no apparent reason. Often attractions are closed for no reason. Sometimes you’ll miss the train and sometimes you’ll be too hungover to do anything.

You’ll be homesick. I wasn’t sure I’d get this one, but it’s inevitable. Living out of a backpack gets difficult quickly. Constantly moving around, never settling anywhere for more than a week, it really makes you miss your family, friends and home comforts. To do this, you really have to be ok with not being settled for any length of time. You never put roots down anywhere – it’s one I personally struggle with.

Summary

These are some of the real realities of travelling. You have to realise that all this, it’s just part of it. You can’t travel without this stuff. It won’t all be fun; you won’t laugh 24/7. In my opinion, it’s actually not for everyone. But I think you should do it anyway – the upsides just far outweigh the downsides. Yes, it’s sometimes hard and yes, sometimes you’ll just want your own bed. But it’s all worth it for those incredible, once in a lifetime experiences. A great many worse things will happen to you in your life than having “the runs” on the side of the road while a group of Cambodian schoolchildren stand and laugh.

When you’re 80, you’ll be so glad you put up with months of dirty hostels and lumpy beds. You’ll look back and laugh at the hard times. You’ll truly appreciate the great times.

Zac Mary Realities of Travelling

If you’re having extreme highs and extreme lows when travelling – that’s good. It means you’re doing it right.

If you’re having more highs than lows, you’re doing just fine. Remember, you’ll look back fondly at the low points one day too.

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35 Comments Add yours

  1. Christine says:

    So true! So sorry to hear about the sun burns. And getting the runs on the side of the road is inevitable!

    1. Zac says:

      I guess these are just things you can’t avoid! Thanks for the support Christine 😃

  2. paigebetty says:

    What a perfect blogpost! I hope a lot
    Of people read this, I wish I knew all of the above before I left. As I was looking at everyone’s insane Instagram posts and nobody ever tells you about the bad days! You really hit the nail on the head here! Good job 👍🏻

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks Paige! I really appreciate your comment; I wish someone told me this too 🤣

  3. You found a wheelchair on a remote Thai island? Blimey. When I broke my leg on Koh Samet a few years ago, I had to use a piece of fencepost as a walking stick, for a week. Great blog.

    1. Zac says:

      Hahaha that’s a great story! There’s a tiny hospital here, perhaps we’re not as remote as Koh Samet!

  4. Keng says:

    Great post. I love seeing posts like this, the highs and lows of traveling. Travel expands one’s perspectives and life experience. And to learn that we’re more alike than different. If more people in the US travel abroad, we wouldn’t have been in the mess we are today.

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks Keng. I definitely agree – we have so much more in common with other cultures than we think. It’s only when you travel you can really see this I think.

  5. Daniel says:

    Very true. That’s the problem with social media, we only see the sunshine and rainbows!

    1. Zac says:

      Absolutely! I guess social media wouldn’t be as entertaining if you put negative thoughts though right?

  6. Lady Zen says:

    Ya, man. No matter how much I had planned my itinerary, I didn’t manage to visit all the places I wanted to. One place was flooded just the week before I arrived. Many of the shops were closed, due to the nation’s event of the year. Argh~ But overall, a holiday trip is awesome, better than facing the devils at work. Enjoy!

    1. Zac says:

      I couldn’t agree more! 😀

  7. Great points you make. I think that social media can give an idealized and distorted image of travel, and reminders like this can be important.

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks for the support!

  8. Very important blog post to read as a traveller. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable” – love that.

    1. Zac says:

      I wish I could claim I thought of that first, but I definitely read it somewhere else 😂 thanks for your support!

  9. Miriam says:

    Great post Zac and so true. Travelling is like life, you can’t have the highs without also the lows. That’s just how it is. But hey, isn’t it all worth it? 🙂

    1. Zac says:

      I agree, it’s just how it is. Absolutely! Hope for the best 😀

  10. Hi Zac. Like that post. Good to be honest.

  11. ThingsHelenLoves says:

    A good, honest post. No matter where you go, real life happens! Enjoying browsing your blog, wishing you safe and happy travels.

    Helen

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks For your kind words Helen! 😊

  12. This post speaks to me on so many levels. So much truth! I was sunburned so bad in Monaco once that my legs were a shade of purple, lol..horrible experience but I can laugh about it now. Great post, Zac!

    1. Zac says:

      I’ve seen that shade of purple this last few weeks, it’s not nice at all 😂 thanks for the support 😊

  13. So true! I’m a night owl, and I have to deal with getting up early every day that I travel. As long as the good memories outnumber the bad ones, it’s always a good trip in my opinion.

    1. Zac says:

      I agree! Thanks for reading 😊

  14. Hey Zac! Great post. I agree with every point 🙂

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