I’m in the middle of a several month trip through Latin America, traveling and attempting to improve my Spanish. While I’m “living the dream” and mostly having a good time, sometimes I’m not really enjoying it at all. Yet when you read the countless travel blogs and magazines, rarely do you see an honest portrayal of the parts of traveling that aren’t so great.
I’m guilty of this, too. Based on the pictures I post, my friends and family could assume I’m spending all my time at pristine beaches, exploring beautiful cities, or eating delicious meals, but the pictures don’t depict the times I was hopelessly lost and exhausted in those same cities or the sweltering humidity and relentless mosquitoes that go hand in hand with those beautiful beaches.
This post may seem to have absolutely nothing to do with dating or relationships, but bear with me. I have a point.
To do my part in dispelling the myth of the bliss-filled, problem-free vacation, here is my list of 9 things that suck about traveling:
- Sharing your bathroom, your bedroom, your kitchen and everywhere else with complete strangers all the time.
- Asking someone to repeat themselves 3 times in Spanish and still having no idea what they said.
- Craving a fresh salad, but being afraid of buying one for fear of the digestive consequences.
- Spending 15 hours on a bus, so long that your ankles swell up, leading you to believe you’ve contracted a rare tropical disease.
- When it seems like everyone in the hostel has made friends except you
- Waiting in line for 3 hours to get across the border at 5am.
- Having to wear a bathing suit around people who look good in bathing suits.
- Giving your taxi driver the address to your hostel in a new city, but he has no idea where it is, nor does he understand your broken translation of the directions.
- When it’s so humid that your clothes on the line don’t dry for three days, even though it’s 90 F (32 C) degrees outside.
I realize this entire list could be tagged under “first world problems”. Don’t get me wrong, I realize I’m lucky to be traveling. However, when people only share the good things, whether it’s about travel, relationships, marriage or life in general, our expectations for our own experiences are higher than they should be. It’s normal not to enjoy every moment of traveling. It’s normal not to be happy all the time. It’s normal to go through tough times in a relationship. But when our actual experiences are worse than what we think our friends went through, we feel like something is wrong with us or with our situation, when in reality, we never saw the full picture to begin with.
Sharing the whole story can be hard. I worry that I’ll seem whiny or ungrateful or I’ll be told to ‘just get over it’, but it’s come as a pleasant surprise for me that most of my friends seem to appreciate when I share both the good and the bad. Whether it’s about traveling or just about life in general, I’m learning to be a little more open. So far it’s been going well.