Firstly I just want to make it clear that I love travelling and would advise everyone to do it! However, I thought it would be interesting to explain another side of travelling that you don’t usually see on social media. I don’t want to be a ‘Negative Nancy’ and put anyone off of travelling because it’s the best thing I ever did; I just wanted to share some of my experiences and thoughts that I know a lot of my other travelling friends feel the same way about. The things I’m going to mention won’t be the case for everyone but are just what I have realised…
1.You’re always broke
Whether its saving to travel at home or when you’re actually travelling; you need to get used to living on a budget and being broke for the majority of the time. When you’re saving it’s cutting down on things like shopping and eating out to avoid wasting money and hopefully to save quicker. Then when you’ve finally saved enough to travel, its a case off limiting your spending like you were at home and choosing mainly free activities to maximize the amount of places you can travel to and time you can spend travelling.
2. It’s difficult to start a career
Unless you’re a digital nomad and living the dream, it is so difficult to start a career when all you want to do is travel. I left uni 3 years ago and have done absolutely nothing with my degree. Mainly because I took the first full time job available when I moved back home so that I could get saving to travel ASAP, then as you travel (unless you have an easily transferable trade) you’re most likely to again take one of the first jobs offered to you to fund your travels; which usually isn’t one that will help with your career progression. Then I’ve found that it becomes somewhat of a continuous cycle – I come home from travelling with no money, – so again take the first thing offered to me because I’m so eager to leave again – then end up doing the same thing all over again.
3. You never feel quite at home – even when you’re at ‘home’
This is part of travelling that I actually wasn’t expecting. I thought I would go away, enjoy myself, see everything I wanted and then feel exactly the same when I got home. Without getting too deep, travel changes you. You will never quite feel satisfied at home in the same way you did before because you’ve seen another way to live and called somewhere else ‘home’ for the past year. Travelling just makes you want to do it more, you’re never satisfied, ticking one amazing place off of your bucket list only makes you want to add more places to it.
4. No one cares about your travel stories
This one I was prepared for, but not to the extent that I found when we got home. You’ll share a few stories, show a few pictures and before you know it people are just acting interested to be polite. Although you know that thousands of people have done similar things to what you have done you’ll feel like the first person to do it and want to share it all with your friends and family. The simple truth is that the majority of them won’t care. They weren’t there, they’ve never been there and they don’t share your passion for travel so find it really hard to relate to anything that you’re saying. It’s difficult to understand that your friends and family aren’t really bothered about what you’ve been doing but they can’t imagine the experiences you’ve had and it’s just not that interesting to them; plus some of them will be a bit bitter that you’ve left them to go off and have all of these adventures.
5. Travelling can be exhausting
Now I don’t mean this in the sense of physically travelling from place to place, like jet lag etc, which obviously can be very tiring. I’m actually talking about experiences being exhausting. When you’ve been travelling non stop and exploring something new virtually everyday, meeting people and finding new places; sometimes you feel so overwhelmed that you just need to do nothing for a few days. However, at the same time, you don’t want to waste time at your hostel when you could be out on an adventure. When we were road tripping the East Coast of Australia, it sounds insane but it got to the point where we were so amazed by everything we had seen and done in those few weeks that we needed a break from it all; just to chill a a hostel or campsite and do nothing for a few days to feel like we could appreciate everything again fully.
6. You will basically live out of a bag
Obviously there are exceptions to this if you rent an apartment or something for a few months but the majority of backpackers will be staying at campsites and hostels. If you’re a first time traveller please don’t have any preconceptions about being able to unpack your bag as you travel. It will be on the floor, under your bunk in complete disarray and you’ll probably just wear the same clothes because you can’t be bothered to sit in the middle of your dorm and sift through the pile of material in your backpack to find what you’re looking for. If you’re anything like me, you’ll more than likely forget what you’ve even packed until you accidentally pull it out a few months later.
7. You’ll constantly compare living at home to your life while travelling
You just can’t help it! You’ll constantly compare your life at home to the one you’ve been living while travelling. People will tell you ‘well you can’t travel forever’ but in your head you’re thinking ‘well I definitely can’. You’ve seen the way that other people live now and it becomes a viable option to you, you just can’t help but imagine your life somewhere else; even when you’re enjoying yourself at home. You’ll compare the weather, the food, the people, just everything because you’ve seen it now and you know that the only person stopping you from moving away and living that life for good, is you.
8. Daily living is more effort
It’s not easy sharing a room with 6+ other people or living out of a car or tent, it just makes your day to day living more difficult. You will cook all of your meals in a shared (usually not that clean) kitchen which will normally be packed at peak times in the morning and evening. You’ll keep all of your food either in your room or in a cool bag in a shared fridge and I guarantee at some point some ones milk will leak onto it and ruin your food (or in rare cases someone steals your food!). If you want somewhere to chill other than your room it’ll be a communal area where it’s difficult to watch what you want on TV or have the peace to read a book or do any work. Also, you most likely won’t have a car so have to shop more often and walk or get public transport everywhere. Most importantly you can kiss goodbye to walking around naked! You’ll take your clothes into the shower with you, put them on the already wet bench or floor; shower, dry yourself and get dressed (into your probably damp clothes) inside a pretty small cubicle.
9.You’re friends and family who don’t travel will never understand you
No matter how hard you try to explain why you want to go travelling again or why you enjoy it, some of your friends and family just won’t understand. For a lot of people life is getting a good job, buying a house, getting married and having kids; while all that is fine, no one ever questions why anyone would want to do that. So it can be really frustrating when you get questioned about how you choose to live your life. To you, adventures and experiences are the most important thing in life, not material possessions, but some people won’t be able to understand that and you have to just accept that you see life differently.
10. You’ll always feel conflicted
I really wasn’t prepared for how constantly conflicted I felt after coming home from travelling. In a way you feel happy to be home, to see people and relax in what feels like extreme comfort but that only lasts a few days. You also feel unfulfilled by the life you were living before you left and can’t wait to book your next trip. You see your friends starting to settle down and build a life for themselves which sometimes seems really tempting when you feel like a you’ve achieved nothing since you were 18 – you live at home with your parents, own nothing of monetary value and have no career. When at the same time you know that you’ll never be able to settle and live that life because all you want to do is travel which you know will make you happy. You’re sad to leave friends and family because you know that they’ll miss you, especially the older ones because to be honest, you can not entirely sure that you’ll see them again. Whilst feeling all of this the urge to travel is still far too strong and you know you have to be selfish and do this for you!
I hope that this hasn’t been too negative for everyone! As always, travel Travel TRAVEL! You won’t regret it!