Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift By
Posted 24 Jul, 2014 | 45 Comments
Posted in: Musings, Travel Blogs

You always hear us saying “_______ is fantastic” and “_______ is the best part of travelling”, but what about the other side of being on the road? If you’ve read our blog, you know that we absolutely love our lifestyle and we wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world, but it’s not all sandy beaches and sunsets. Travel can be exhausting and being a goat on the road has it’s downsides. Here are a few of the things that I really don’t like about travelling.

1. Feeling Like A Walking Dollar Sign:

animated-dollar-signAfter our first trip to Southeast Asia, Dariece and I both thought that being viewed as a walking dollar sign was just a part of travel. We’ve since learned that it really depends on where you are in the world. In places like Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of the Caribbean, we found it hard to fully connect with the local people. Sure we made some great friends and had great experiences along the way, but many people in the tourism business in these regions see travellers as earning potential, rather than potential friends. After visiting places like China, Iran, Egypt and Turkey, we realized that this isn’t the case everywhere. There are places in the world (even poor places) where people don’t just see you for your money and really want to learn more about you. But these places are becoming fewer and fewer. Feeling like a walking dollar sign is the number one thing I don’t like about travel, but we feel so grateful to be able to live this life that it’s really a small price to pay. We help where we can and where it feels appropriate and try to connect with the people the best way we know how… with smiles!

2. Being Away From Family:

This one is probably tied with number one actually. It’s not easy being away from our families for such long periods of time. Things happen at home and we wish we could be there. Friends have been married, children have been born and grandparents passed on, all while we were away travelling. It’s not always feasible to fly home for the occasion. Aside from missing major events, we both miss just being close to family. We’ve met other long-term travellers who have had their families visit them overseas on numerous occasions, but this just hasn’t been possible for our families. This means that we are reduced to Skype calls and text messages until we return home, about once ever year and a half. Being away from family is a hard one, but we’re very lucky to have a family that supports our travels and our dreams.

Me With My Brother, Uncle and Cousins
Me With My Brother, Uncle and Cousins

3. Long Travel Days:

I know what you’re thinking, “If you don’t like days of travel, why are you travelling?!” Well we do like days of travel but some of them are longer and more difficult than others – like the ones that span 24 hours and take us on 3 different buses, a ferry and a taxi ride, in a country where nobody speaks English. When we first started travelling, we loved these types of days, but slowly (and probably due to age) they’ve started to wear on us and now we actually prefer to spend the extra money to either fly, or take the “VIP” bus. We find that if we have enough food for the journey, it’s usually fine, but if we end up hungry… I get grumpy and Dariece doesn’t get to enjoy the trip as much! backpacking

4. Getting Ripped Off:

a hijackerThis pretty much goes hand in hand with #1 on this list and if you’re a long time traveller, getting ripped off isn’t a matter of if… it’s WHEN! We were actually pretty lucky up until our trip through the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. After 4 years on the road we had only an iPod, cheap sandals and a snorkel mask stolen. But then, high in the mountains, we were taken for $1500 cash and it hurt. It’s always more the principle than the actual cash itself, but getting ripped off is a definite con of travel. Whether you fall for the “free tuk-tuk ride” in Thailand, or have your bags stolen from a bus in Africa, it’s always a piss off to know that someone out there has your stuff. Theft can range from tourist pricing to all out hijackings and no matter how it goes down, it ends with an upset traveller with mixed memories about the country. We’ve learned (the hard way), to not let it ruin the trip.  These things are bound to happen and if you’re smart… they’ll happen less often.

5. Getting Sick:

Sick3When your travelling the world on a long trip, it’s not a question of if you’ll get sick… it’s when! We absolutely hate being sick but over the years, we’ve contracted some pretty nasty bugs on the road. Luckily, the more we travel, the more we build up an immunity to foreign illnesses, but we still fall ill every once in a while. We recently had a pretty nasty tropical fever after returning from our trip through St.Vincent & The Grenadines. It wasn’t the first time we’ve been sick on the road, and unfortunately it won’t be the last!

6. Hostel Table One-Upsmanship:

the group of us enjoying the fruits of our labour, Backstreet Youth Hostel, Guilin, ChinaWe try to avoid these types of conversations like the plague, but they still happen. Sometimes, travellers think that cool stories are a competition and for every fun tale you tell, they have one that’s “way better”. At first we didn’t mind this type of chat and we passed it off as just “excited table talk”. But the more time we spend on the road, the less we want to engage in these types of talks. We love hearing about other travellers’ stories and we’re constantly inspired by our fellow backpackers, but sometimes the motives behind telling the tales are all wrong. We enjoy telling stories back and forth as long as they aren’t competitive. Trying to make my trip sound better than yours just seems like a waste of time. Everyone’s travel stories are unique and exciting for different reasons. If a retaliative travel tale starts with “oh yeah”, or “well, that’s nothing”, we usually just ignore the rest!

7. Nobody Cares:

If you’ve been on a long trip and returned home, you’ll know this one all too well. Friends and family at home are interested for about 10 minutes before the conversation turns and you’re left thinking “I thought we’d talk about my awesome trip for years”. The truth is, your trip isn’t as amazing as you think… at least to people who have been at home. The score of the hockey game, last weekends drink-fest and that asshole at work are far better conversation pieces than your tales of gallivanting around the globe. Why would your friends and family find it interesting? Unless they’re travellers themselves, they have other interests and can’t comprehend what you’ve been through on the road. Although they might love to hear the occasional story of your trip… that’s all you’ll probably get.

This is a hard reality that we all just have to get used to. It’s too bad because travel is all that travellers can (and want to) talk about! All Dariece and I do is travel, live abroad and learn about new cultures, so how can we talk about that annoying person at work? For us, that person is the only other person we can talk to about travel! Nobody Cares We don’t care if nobody cares about our travels, we still love it and we won’t be stopping anytime soon! We just wanted to share some of the bitter with the constant sweet on Goats On The Road. There are parts of backpacking that aren’t easy, but honestly, they probably add to the adventure and we wouldn’t have learned so much about ourselves without dealing with the low days of travel.

Do you like every aspect of travel? What things get under your skin? Share with us in the comments below!

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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45 thoughts on “7 Things I Don’t Like About Travelling

  1. I definitely identify with number 7! Only other travellers really seem to care for more than the cursory 10 minutes. It is hard when you return from a big trip and it is all that you can think about and no one wants to hear it!

  2. i loved this post… it’s literally the exact same things I think. I have a post half-written that is so similar lol. I get ripped off in India which is less frustrating than it used to be.. they don’t know i’ve lived here almost 2 years and it’s my fault not knowing the language. I have been posting all over the internet looking for hindi teacher to no avail 🙁

  3. Hey Guys,

    I have recently started following your blog and love the tales that you tell. I can relate to all 7 points, but I get most frustrated by no. 7 – you are right, nobody cares unless they are with you during your 10 month travels. The office idiot takes priority and that is so sad 🙂

    Loved this one.

  4. Hey! I agree with all the things you said. The worst thing for me is being away from friends and family. I will soon be on the road long-term again and don’t feel ready to say goodbye. I know you’re never ready. But saying goodbye really sucks. Followed by long travel days 😉

  5. I know! And it’s definitely all you think about! I mean, how could we not, right?!

    Cheers 🙂

  6. haha, I think that happens lots with us travellers/bloggers – we all have the same great article ideas! Looking forward to reading yours 🙂 Ya, learning some of the language helps for not getting ripped off, at least they speak English in India. Maybe post up some flyers around to find a tutor?


  7. Thanks Ani! It can definitely be hard to go home and be soooo excited about what you’ve just been through the last year or so and have no one to really share it with. Nick and I are happy we have each other so we can constantly talk about it! haha.

    p.s. I can’t help but notice that you’ve used Bruised Passports, Savi & Vid, avatar photo as well as their email address??

  8. It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s not forever! Enjoy your travels 🙂


  9. Definitely agree with #1, and I especially detest the doubled prices we get because we’re so obviously Westerners. For sure true in Southeast Asia, but it got so bad in Panama that we started to call it “Being Gringo’d.” In Ecuador they just couldn’t seem to understand that most expats are not living there because they’re rich. Hello!?! A whole lot of them are living there because they can’t afford the U.S.!

  10. I agree with hating the scams – very annoying. And also I get a bit annoyed when we are in a place that just has little diversity in food options. After our South America trip I was dying for a place that had more than just a few spices and veggies. The only good part of that was that when we made it to Europe we were overwhelmed with all the choices!

  11. The walking dollar sign gets to me a lot, especially when I hop of the bus with my backpack & hiking shoes on…I’m just thinking “do I LOOK like the type of traveler who has excess cash to spend?” And yes, the secret to loooong travel days is adequate snacks! I’m still at the point where I don’t mind them – probably because they’re the only time I get to curl up and read to my heart’s content without feeling guilty for not working. But I get grumpy, too, if I don’t get to eat all day!

  12. Great article guys! We can totally identify with #1 and #4 right now! We were so exhausted with Indonesia and Malaysia because not only do they thing that way, they treat you that way and its so sad. You’re trying to connect and they are thinking about the best way to extort you while you are trying to engage in casual conversation! We miss our families too. And you are so right, travel isn’t all beaches and sunsets, but isn’t that why we love it? 🙂

  13. I’m dreading these things when I go travelling but there’s more I hate about sitting still. It’s good to have a list that preempts me for all of these things. There are always down sides to everything I guess.

  14. Being away from friend and family surely is difficult but thanks to technology we can stay close. I couldn’t agree more with your last point! I was really surprised and quite dissapointed on how little people cared about my travel stories. Sure their listened and I talked (sometimes I admit that I would get carried away with talking) but quickly I realized that there is only so much they want to hear about. Usually only bits and pieces. I can’t blame them tho, everyone has their own interest and when my friends start talking about redecorating their house or the party they went to last weekend I quickly drift away in my own thoughts to faraway lands:)

  15. I agree with most of your points here too, especially the one up man ship thing. Being relatively young (22) I often find that people try to advise me about things in a patronising manner without actually bothering to ask me anything about myself. “Make sure you keep your valuables safe.”, “Be careful, people might try and rip you off.” etc etc before telling me long stories of the ‘crazy’ situations they’ve found themselves in. Yes thankyou very much!

  16. I hates long travel days especially. There is nothing worser than an image in my head when I know i will have to travel somewhere for more than 24h and change flights twice! And I must say that the more I travel the more I despite flights, planes and anything having to do with airports etc

  17. Man, you hit the nail on the head. What you wrote in number seven — that nobody cares — might sound harsh, but it’s totally valid. It’s really hard to overcome the disconnect between you and your friends and family when you visit home. And the hardest part is that you wish you could share your experiences in a way that gets everyone involved, excited, and hungry to talk about them, but there’s no way to do that, so you go silent, you start to drift apart from the people that you spent so much of your time with in the past. Out of all of those unfortunate truths, that one hurts the most, because it includes family, too.

  18. Traveling is definitely full of highs and lows. But I suppose it’s the great parts that make all of the not-so-fun parts worth it! Being away from family is definitely a tough one for me. My boyfriend and I have been on the road for a year. And we’re moving to Indonesia for another year in less than a week. Saying our goodbyes to our friends and family is definitely hard. That and being a vegetarian traveler can be super frustrating sometimes!

  19. All of them except number 2. I manage being away from my family quite well, but the rest of them, especially number 6 (oneupmanship) really bug me. I hate being sick abroad, and I hate feeling like a walking dollar sign too. I was considering doing a post like this too, but more specific – things that I did and didn’t like in certain countries… although that could be a recipe for controversy…

  20. haha, so that is what we have to look forward to when we head South, hey?! Getting Gringo’d doesn’t sound fun, but it sounds pretty standard. We’ve felt like walking dollar signs mostly in Southeast Asia and Africa so far.

    Cheers 🙂

  21. That’s an excellent point that we didn’t think of! We’re such foodies that when we’re travelling somewhere like Mongolia without the best cuisine, we definitely start getting bored with the food options. I’ve heard that S.A. is basically all rice & beans, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough 🙂 Food is such a big part of travel, it’s important to have diversity!

  22. Eating on travel days is very important! I don’t mind long travel days if I know they’re going to be long – it’s when the bus that was supposed to be 5 hours breaks down, stops every 5 minutes or just drives slow and it ends up being like 12 hours! That I can’t stand 🙂