Travel isn’t always glamorous.
To be honest, it’s rarely glamorous.
Travel is glorified, everyone on the earth wants to travel but not everyone gets to experience the world and all its wonders. Not many people are really happy where they are and it leads people to romanticizes other’s lives. Travel is idealized these days but no one ever talks about what it really means to travel.
Travel is sitting at your computer for hours trying to find the best flight deals and figure out if you can swing it with everything else you have to budget. It’s crunching numbers and seeing what you actually have to spend after all your expenses. It’s picking the cheapest flight option despite the 20 hours you’re going to be sitting on a plane or in the airport waiting around on your layovers. It’s condensing your life into a backpack to go to a country you’ve never been to before and the overwhelming amount of emotions that comes with it.
Travel is not being able to communicate with the locals in the country you’re visiting. It’s having three tuk-tuk drivers not understand where you’re trying to go and leaving you standing in the road dripping sweat with your belongings on your back reminding yourself to be calm and that you’re in their country and don’t know how to speak their language.
It’s learning an entirely new level of patience and understanding you lacked before.
Travel is wearing the same clothes for a few days in a row because you’ve been traveling to a new destination on a boat or bus and you’ve already sweat through everything else. It’s being dirty and not showering for days at times. It’s your hair forming dreadlocks and your body trying to adapt to the changes.
It’s always having that little bit of fear and anxiety that you can’t let your guard down too much. It’s putting all your hope into the person who said they’d take you where you asked to go. It’s trusting your gut now more than ever, just in case, something goes wrong.
It’s figuring your own way out when nothing makes sense to you. It’s waking up to a giant spider in your hostel and getting sick in a foreign country and craving home. It’s not being able to take a hot shower and realizing you’re a long way from home the first time you see a squat toilet that you’re asked to pay to use. It’s carrying toilet paper in your purse and your own soap because that’s considered a luxury in public restrooms.
It’s music blaring all night at the hostel you booked. It’s the doors not locking and hoping someone doesn’t steal your stuff. It’s seeing stained sheets and crossing your fingers there are no bed bugs and that everything is clean. It’s learning how to compromise when you know people are trying to rip you off. It’s being told your money is useless because it has a little tear in it. It’s sleeping on chairs or taking a midnight bus to save money on a bed for a night.
It’s missing home but also enjoying where you are.
It’s immersing yourself in a totally new culture and surrounding yourself with new people, new languages, new foods and new ways of life. It’s figuring out how to fit in and find a level of comfort that doesn’t make you feel lost.
It’s almost running out of money and regretting buying so many things when you first arrived. It’s being overwhelmed with feelings of missing the people you love but not wanting to leave. It’s longing for the comforts you’re so familiar with. It’s feeling tired of getting woken up by strangers rustling around in their backpacks at 5 AM. It’s hating hearing the people in the bed next to yours having sex in the middle of the night. It’s the feeling of wanting your own bed, your friends, your favorite restaurant, your family and to feel clean.
But it’s not that simple.
Travel is also returning home and feeling lost and overwhelmed in your own country. It’s questioning things, missing the way things were in the country you traveled to and it means listening to people tell you how jealous they are of you and all you got to experience. It’s being angry with this, you want people to understand that it wasn’t “easy” for you to do but you still did it. It gets old listening to people tell you they wish they had your life when all you did was save your money, make it a priority and go.
It’s feeling frustrating because your hearts in multiple places, it’s knowing you’ll probably never see the friends you made again while traveling. It’s trying to save your money all over again so you can go back to those dirty hostels and experience it all over again.
It’s accepting that travel isn’t this glamorous, Instagrammable life you thought it was, but loving it anyway.