unexpected rant: why traveling sucks

Why Traveling Kinda Sucks

There’s nothing like returning home from a trip. You return to the comfort of your bed, the laughter of family and friends, the same old routine you used to have. Frankly, coming home from traveling is returning back to your old life.

As you’ve traveled around, you have changed into a different person. You learn that your life back at home is easy and wonderful. Living abroad, in a collection of hostels, hotels, and homestays, has made you appreciate your “real” life, the life with hot showers and actual beds, walls that actually conceal noise. You don’t need to filter your water before drinking it. You don’t need to struggle with understanding accents or speaking a new language, you don’t need to spend hours hand-washing and hang-drying clothes. Your “real life” is full of comfort and luxury compared to the places you were previously staying.

But you don’t want that anymore.

Traveling has opened your eyes to new ways of living and appreciating every moment you’re given. It makes “real life” and all of its luxuries boring, and you wonder if you were even living in the first place. It changes you so much that everything you come back to is exactly what you don’t want at all. If being back on the road comes with heavy backpacks filled with knick-knacks and water filters, you’ll take it, because the memories you’ve made while traveling, as well as the people you’ve met on the road, are irreplaceable.

Abroad, you could tell your stories about “that one time you were in Vietnam” or when you got incredibly ill from sipping on something with ice. You could share how you felt looking at the Eiffel Tower or exploring Easter Island or snorkeling with the fish in Fiji. You could share stories about your travels and be met with understanding, whereas now, you’re an outsider.

At home, no one “gets” it. No one fully understands how deeply rooted to a place you’ve become, how part of you is still halfway across the world, living the good life. Maybe it’s less comfortable, and maybe it’s a little harder, but it’s good. Maybe even better. Your friends may laugh along after you tell them your stories of language fiascos, they may even sympathize with you when you tell them how you got incredibly ill, but they don’t understand it. They don’t understand how that tiny moment, no matter how seemingly insignificant, really did shape your understanding of the world.

For them, life kept passing by, exactly as it did when you left, but you have changed completely. Things you once thought you loved are just “cool” now. The beautiful church in the middle of your hometown doesn’t compare to the temples you saw in Thailand. The constant chitter chatter around you doesn’t seem whole without various languages mixed in. People don’t understand you when you swear in a different language or say certain words with a new accent. You’ve been spoiled rotten while traveling; your eyes have been opened up to the world around you, but you’re stuck in “real life.” Back with the daily routines and easy living.

Traveling sucks. It alienates you to no extent, but as frustrated as you may get, at the end of the day, you always ask yourself, “Would you really want it any other way?”

 

I know I wouldn’t.

8 comments

  1. This is such a well-written post and I can totally relate to every single word of it! While traveling we build our own separate world from the one we live in back home and a feeling of emptiness and misplacement gets to me every time I come back…

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  2. I can relate to this to an extent, especially after relocating far from home. I know the feeling of telling stories to the people closesr to you only to get half-hearted “ah”. I can’t blame them, though. That’s why when I travel with family, I try to let them have the closesr experiences as I do.

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  3. Love your post! I travel a lot for work and as much as I love the opportunity to visit different places it can be exhausting! Travel buddies make the best life long friends because you always have someone to relive the memories with when you come back home and no one around you quite “gets it” 🙂

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  4. This post totally resonates with me. I lived in Tokyo for a year waaaaaaaay back in 2002 and when I returned home I struggled horribly for about 3 years. I felt completely alienated and alone. Nobody understood. In the end, I went back overseas and have now been away almost 10 years!

    However, I think sometimes us travellers underestimate how people back at home feel. We are very quick to say that we changed and everybody else at home stayed the same, but I don’t think that’s true. Everybody changes over time, but for some the changes are more subtle. I think that many of my friends back home look for security – they look for a group of friends that they can call on for lunches, evenings out, movie nights at home, or a shoulder to cry on. They want the ‘Sex & the City’ friendship group, and I broke that deal. They have gone on to develop their friendships without me, they have had their tough times and I haven’t been there. How often do we really understand how having a baby changed them, or that promotion at work that is as important to them as our love of travel? Do we really listen to those stories, or are we too busy trying to tell them about ‘that time in Bali’? My friends at home changed too and once I started to listen to them more I found them more receptive. And for the ones that didn’t, I gently let them go – if you have drifted apart then that’s fine too.

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    • I definitely have some growing up to do! I can totally see how that would change a life, but for us university students, most things are the same! I think it’ll be really hard to reconnect after travel when I’m older and everyone else is having so much go on at home, but that’s just more to talk about I guess!

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