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:
After 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.
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!
4. Getting Ripped Off:
This 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:
When 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:
We 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! 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.