I think over the past decade with social media really taking over our lives we all in some way have a somewhat distorted vision of reality. We see edited filtered photos and videos of people’s lives and admire, desire or for some even get jealous and start to envy these people over these imaginary lives. We follow these travel bloggers and travel pages that share others travel photos and we immediately feel one of two things; envious or inspired. We allow these travel photos and travel blogs to give us these false travel expectations. While I am grateful to be able to travel and absolutely love traveling, I’d be lying if I said traveling is always as colorful and perfect as the photos appear. I’ve traveled long enough and far enough to know that’s not always the case. If only travel life was that easy. While you can almost click any of the thousands of social media travel pages and see beautiful, bright, colorful, happy, magazine ready photos of people traveling, let’s use this blog today to speak about the downsides to traveling.
When people think or hear the words travel and vacation, I’m almost certain all things that come to mind are happy, dreamy, positive images. As Americans, negative travel thoughts only seem to come to mind when you hear someone traveling to countries in Africa or The Middle East. Naturally when we think of certain destinations on our travel bucket list, we usually think of images we seen of that place on social media or television. But what if I told you traveling isn’t always pretty. Paris is more than wearing your beret and snapping photos under the Eiffel Tower. Thailand is more than riding elephants and playing with lions. New York is more than the bright lights of Times Square. And Brazil is definitely more than the beautiful beaches and amazing beach bodies you see posted on social media. We often forget about the process, the stress and sometimes the pain that led to the photo you see posted. No one ever tells us about the not so pretty sides to traveling. The time consuming tiresome work that goes into planning a trip. Traveling to a foreign country and being overcharged/ripped off, language barriers, airport hassles, the jet lag, flights delays and the possibility of feeling home sick, lonely and sometimes even scared.
If you have ever planned a trip especially a trip that includes other people I’m sure you can testify that this can be very LONG and TIRESOME process. This process most times include reading reviews, watching YouTube videos, googling, reading blogs, hashtagging destinations on IG, asking the other people going on the trip for their input, reaching out to tour companies and playing the negotiation game. If you’re a solo traveler the planning and negotiation game is even harder because you have to find your way around tour companies and accommodations that try to charge you extra because you’re a solo traveler. Trust me this process includes many long days and even longer nights. Personally for me when I take vacations to destinations with limited time I’m one of those try to see it all type of travelers, so planning my trips can be very demanding. I’m also a very detailed and organized person so when traveling although I leave open time for randomness and relaxation, I also plan a lot of things in advance to avoid any additional stress and confusion while on vacation. I choose to deal with the stress during the planning process in an effort to avoid it while on vacation.
Another major downside to traveling is being overcharged/ripped off. This is a BIG issue when traveling internationally especially to countries where you don’t speak the language. When they see you they immediately see a tourist and will charge you the tourist rate which most times is extremely more costly than what the locals are being charged. It starts as early as the taxi ride from the airport to your hotel and just seems to get worse especially as you start to do tours/excursions. Just because you’re on vacation in another country doesn’t mean you should pay $40 for something that is costing someone else $5. Before you go on a trip do a little research of that place and the things you want to do while there. Don’t book with the first tour company you see and don’t jump in the first taxi that bombards you at the airport. Play them at their game. Be patient and negotiate. As bad as you want to do the tour or get to your destination, they also want your money just as badly. Hold out as long as you can.
Next is Jetlag and sleepiness. Though traveling is such an exciting and rewarding experience, the reality is it can also be very exhausting. Long flights, uncomfortable seats, airport crowds, security lines and shifting time zones. The fatigue is magnified when your trip includes multi destinations. You ever arrived to a destination feeling exhausted to only realize you have a tour scheduled that begins in a few hours? That feeling of being overtired, with low energy and a strong desire to sleep really can interfere with your travel plans. Granted most times in these situations our excitement overpowers our sleepiness and we still pull through, but it takes a lot of energy and can at times be taxing. If traveling with the wrong people and this occurs it can cause irritability, edginess and conflict.
Lastly is feeling homesick or lonely. People who take five to seven day trips for fun, may not fully experience this part. I think anyone who have taking a trip for longer than two weeks can attest that at least once you have had an experience with feeling a little homesick or lonely. I hear a lot of people who enjoy cruises talk about how anything longer than a 5 day cruise is too long and they start to feel bored, lonely and miss home. During the planning process, when booking a trip for two or three weeks away from home with no work the idea can sound absolutely ideal, but for some reason around the seventh or eighth day you begin to miss home. By the ninth day you begin to feel like Dorthy in the Wizard Of Oz. “There’s no place like home”. You begin to miss everything about your routine life from your bed, to your family and sometimes even your job. It’s something about familiarity and routine that brings us comfort.
Traveling just like anything else in life has its ups and down. I think the key to reducing stress and reducing the downsides of traveling is knowing yourself. By knowing yourself that includes deciding on destinations that truly interest you and not by photos you may see posted on social media on these travel pages. That’s the quickest way to be disappointed. Being honest and realistic about long flights, multi destination trips and lengths of stay. Whether it’s a week long trip, a volunteer program abroad, a backpacking trip or a decision to live abroad for a certain time, the key is to know your limits. The reality is for some a twenty plus hour long flight sounds exciting, while for others the thought of that sounds completely dreadful and draining. Listen to yourself in that moment. If you know a five hour flight is torturous to you, maybe a twenty hour flight isn’t for you. When something starts to feel like something you have to do rather than something you want to do that takes the excitement out of it. Try to do things that truly interest you and not just sightseeing activities. The reality is traveling especially internationally requires a lot of patience. Try not to put such high expectations on your travels. Don’t put that undue pressure on yourself. Just enjoy each place you travel to for what it is, what it brings, how it makes you feel and what it teaches you. At the end of the day whether a travel experience was a positive or negative one it leaves you with a story to tell.