If you look to travel bloggers and the internet, you would be under the assumption that travel is rejuvenating, filled with adventure and picturesque sunsets. That you’re so lucky and you’re going to have the best time of your life. Whilst I agree that people who get the chance to travel are incredibly luck and will definitely have an experience of a lifetime – when you’re in a dark alleyway in the back streets of Rome, no charge left on your phone and there’s creepy people lurking around, it’s hard to say that you are having the best time of your life.
I’m 100% guilty of creating this illusion that travelling is so amazing and every second is simply unforgettable. However, when I stop and really think back on it, I think this wanderlust magical illusion has altered my memory. In life, it’s only natural to remember the good times so when people ask you ‘how was your trip?’ it’s only natural to think back to those beautiful sunsets over the ocean, the wonderful people you met and the breathtaking sight of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.
But as the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. So, here’s my list of things that people don’t tell you about travelling, because in order to truly have the adventure of a lifetime, you need to know what to do when travelling turns out to be less than perfect.
*Obviously everyone’s experiences are different, but these are things that I encountered whilst travelling and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.
On your first few nights away, you will cry
You’ve just spent a whole 24 hours on a plane, you’re wearing dirty clothes, you’re over tired, confused and trying to decipher out how to get to your hostel. Life is difficult to navigate when you’re tired when you’re at home, let alone in a strange city. And when you finally lay your head down on a strange pillow, it kind of sinks in that you’re on your own. You get these strange feelings over being overwhelmed with your decision to embark on a journey so bold. On my first night in London I remember crying because I arrived late at night, got the train from the airport to the station (it wasn’t a pleasant train ride either) and then having no idea where to go from the station. Then when I finally made it to my hotel, I couldn’t sleep because of jetlag and there were sirens all night long.
What to do?
Accept these feelings. If you feel like crying. Just let it out. Personally, if I try and hold some tears in, I get all worked up about nothing. To get over nights like this, make sure you’ve got a few good movies or TV series loaded onto your laptop. I find it so settling to just switch off and watch some mindless TV to fall asleep to. On that note, make sure you get a good sleep. Adjusting to jetlag is a bit of a bitch but try and wake up at a ‘normal’ time and go to sleep at a ‘normal’ time. That’s the quickest way to adjust.
Places, Sites and Cities will not be what you expect
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to go to Paris. I couldn’t wait to set foot in that city and follow the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel and Victor Hugo. Paris… the City of Light… of the city of dog sh*t, ghettos, uncomfortable metro rides and gypsies. I was utterly repulsed by the Eiffel Tower as well. I just didn’t get it and everything about it just felt off. THEN, there were numerous incidents where I nearly got pickpocketed and many times where I was followed and harassed on the metro. Let’s just say, Paris was not in my good books. I remember being so internally upset that Paris didn’t live up to my expectations. I just didn’t understand it.
What to do?
There was just something in me that yearned to love Paris. So when I got the opportunity to return, I had to take it. The second time I was there – it felt like I’d lived there my whole life. I stayed with a dear friend of mine that lived in the Bastille arrondissement. I met lots of locals and explored hidden treasures. And then, I saw the Eiffel Tower from the hills of Montmartre and that is the moment that I fell in love with Paris. The point is, not everyone is going to like every city or place. We all have different experiences and that’s what make our stories worth listening to. It’s just important to not be disappointed by your first encounter of a place, and to try and immerse yourself in the local way of life to get a true feel for what a place is like. If I had never given Paris a second shot, I would’ve regretted it so much.
You will get sick, and when you do, you’ll want to press the SOS button
You get sick when you’re at home, so of course you’re going to get sick when you’re travelling. And trust me, being sick whilst in a foreign country is THE WORST!!! I call my experience, the Prague experience. Let’s just say I was there around Christmas New Years time, I ate a lot of street food, and drank a lot of beer (beer is cheaper than water, I was just trying to save money!). Anyway, my body was pretty damn mad at me because I vomited for 24hours straight and couldn’t even keep water down. The next day I was booked in to go to Vienna and then off to Berlin, but I honestly couldn’t even keep my head up without feeling dizzy and throwing up. I don’t really remember it all, but I called my Dad, crying saying how sick I was. I had a random French couple trying to give me medicine that I couldn’t read what it was and an old Polish man telling me that I was poisoned. Let’s just say, I wanted to press eject and get out of there.
What to do?
Firstly, make sure you have travel insurance! I did have it, however honestly didn’t know what to do and didn’t know if I was sick enough to go to the hospital. In hindsight, I probably should have. Don’t hesitate to contact home for comfort, but maybe do so after you’ve had a few hours to think about what’s going on. Listen to your body! I was so tempted to push on the next day to Vienna, my mind was screaming at me to get off my ass and onto that bus. But I physically knew that I was incapable of doing so. Don’t be afraid to relax and let your body and mind heal itself. There’s no point pushing yourself where you won’t even be able to enjoy a new city. I wish I could’ve gone to Vienna and Berlin, but now they’re just on my to do list again!
It will be hard, but it will be worth it
Sure all of the jetlag, getting lost, food poisoning, nights spent on airport floors, trying to decipher Hungarian road signs and fending off weird metro goers kind of sucks… but you know what… it’s those stories which will turn out to be some of your best. Each set back you experience is just preparing you to overcome the next. I know that sometimes it’s hard, but trust me it will be worth it!