By The Secret Traveller
You won’t hear about it on Getaway, and they probably don’t mention it in Lonely Planet either. But there are some downsides to travel. There are certain tough lessons that going out on the road will force you to learn.
That’s not to say that travel isn’t a life-changing, amazing, transformative experience that’s worth every single penny you spend on it. It is. But it also teaches you a thing or two about the world...
You might set out with that old high school friend, or that romantic flame, or whoever it is you persuade to go travelling with you, thinking you’ll be mates forever. You won’t. Travel brings out the best in people, but it also brings out the worst. Some relationships just won’t last. And all those people you meet that you swear you’ll keep in touch with for the rest of your life? You won’t.
This is one of the saddest things to discover, but you do figure it out pretty quickly, despite leaving home with rose-coloured glasses firmly fixed to your face. Not all locals are nice. Some of them want to rip you off. Others just won’t give you the time of day. Not all fellow travellers are nice either. Some of those guys want to rip you off too. Others are just idiots.
That’s right: it ain’t a highlights reel. It’s not all fun and games. A lot of your travel experience is actually spent in a state of boredom, sitting on buses or trains, waiting for things to happen, making time pass. It’s all worth it, of course, to get the good stuff. But be prepared for a few lowlights.
It’s not the one holiday that zaps your savings – it’s all the countless holidays and long-term trips that come after that, for the simple reason that travel is hugely addictive, and once you get the bug you’ll always be ready to sacrifice your savings to pursue it. Not that this is a bad thing. Just be prepared for financial insecurity if you love to travel.
Ultimately this is a great lesson to learn, but it’s one that doesn’t come easy. The truth that most travellers discover is that they’re a lot tougher, and lot more resourceful, and a lot hardier than they once suspected. This takes a few dodgy situations and some emotional stress to discover, but it’s a nice thing to know.
Those guidebooks would have you believe that everywhere in the world is amazing, that no destination could possibly be a dud. But the truth about travel is that you won’t love everywhere you go. In fact you won’t like some places at all. You’ll be desperate to get out. The one benefit this has is that it will make you value the destinations you do love even more.
Sucks, huh? You might be universally loved back home, the most popular kid in school, but when you travel and open yourself up to new cultures and new people, some of them aren’t going to like you. Some might not like you just for what you represent – not even who you are. That’s something you’ll have to get used to.
Constantly. Always. This might just be the grand, inescapable truth of travel: things will go wrong. You’ll lose things. You’ll have things stolen. You’ll miss buses. You’ll have accidents. You’ll have arguments. Thousands of things will fail to turn out the way you planned them, and you’ll be forced to deal with the consequences. The trick is to do that with the minimum of fuss.
As you traverse the globe ticking off one bucket-list experience after another, you notice a curious thing: your bucket list isn’t getting any smaller. That’s because the more you travel, the more you hear about what there is to see and do in this world, and the more you want to do it. And the more you realise that you’ll never have time.
This is no laughing matter. It’s nothing to take lightly. Because the more fun you have while travelling, the more pain you’re going to go through when it’s all over. Going home sucks. It sucks because all of the daily excitement suddenly disappears. It sucks because everything at home is exactly the way it used to be. It sucks because you’re now a different person and everyone else is the same. And it sucks because no one really cares about the reasons why.
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