Thought Catalog

The Side Of Traveling That No One Likes To Talk About (But Everyone Should)

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woman traveling on a beach
Glen Jackson

Traveling is a wonderful experience. You’re continuously thrust into new and beautiful environments, you meet tons of incredible individuals, you get to try new foods you wouldn’t have otherwise, you learn expanse of amounts of history, and you have nothing to worry about except where you’ll be sleeping or how you’ll be getting to the next place.

But, despite all the amazing aspects of Traveling, like everything else in life, it comes with its ups and downs.

Most of what we see online that relates to Traveling only shows the exciting and glamorous parts. What I’m learning though, is that it’s not always so exciting and glamorous. And I’m not talking about dirty hostel showers or doing your laundry once a month. I’m talking about the mentally exhausting aspects of Traveling: not being able to speak the language, being the only non-white or white or Asian individual somewhere and being stared at, constantly getting lost, not knowing where the good restaurants or bars are for weeks and weeks.

While people love to rave about their happy travel moments, people rarely share their negative experiences. Moments when they’re homesick, lonely, and uncomfortable. Moments when they wish they were home, wish they could speak the language, moments where they didn’t feel so starkly foreign. Moments where you wish you were surrounded by your friends, moments when you’re drained of talking about where you’re from, how long you’ve been Traveling, where you just were or where you’re going next.

I’ve been on the road for nine weeks now. I have another three weeks to go. Last week I was contemplating whether changing my tickets and flying home early might be the right move. I kept wavering almost the entire week whether the right course of action would be to go home and save some money to put towards my move (after I finish Traveling I’ll be moving to a new city). I kept trying to introspect and figure out whether I had learned everything I wanted to, and more importantly needed to learn, Traveling on my own. As much as I wanted to indulge my appetite, meet new people, and have wonderful new experiences, this trip was more about a journey of introspection where I could learn about myself and grow as a person. Where I could face my fears head-on and alone, where I would be forced to be patient, to get out of my comfort zone, and not simply run away from my fears.

Then it hit me, wasn’t my contemplating to go home early my typical behavior of trying to run away from my fears?

If everything has its ups and downs, then I guess Traveling does too. Maybe I was meant to experience loneliness, sadness, homesickness, and alienation. Maybe all these feelings are all legitimate parts of Traveling, just like all the fun stuff is too. Maybe part of the learning process that inspired this entire trip will come from experiencing the hard part and persevering though it.

I recently read an article on Beautiful Creative Inspiring Life that really got me thinking. The article is basically about how happiness shouldn’t be the goal. Being content should be the goal. And it’s true: you can’t always be happy, like anything in life there has to be a balance. At the beginning of my trip I was on an incredible high, and now I’m feeling the lows. But if life’s all about balance, then the highs have to be balanced out by the lows. Maybe going home early would be taking the easy way out—returning to comfort as a way of easily escaping the uncomfortable parts of Traveling. TC mark

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