You’ll experience new things and you will be pushed out of your comfort zone.
This is kind of a non brainer and is often the reason why people want to go travelling in the first place. But sometimes you will feel so out of your comfort zone that things you couldn’t stand before you left home suddenly become the reason why you feel home sick. Never did I think I would ever feel wistful about London’s tube or the fact it rains all the damn time in the UK). This is only because they are things you recognise and feel comfortable with. However, when was the last time an amazing experience like hand feeding a baby sloth, riding an elephant in Thailand or white water rafting in Uganda come out of staying in your comfort zone? And anyway, it’s a total cliché but those stories that at the time feel like a complete nightmare really do make the best ones to tell when you get home.
My most treasured experiences certainly didn’t come out of walking to the tube, muttering under my breath whilst simultaneously battling with the wind and rain to keep my umbrella from turning inside out, that’s for sure. Once whilst in Panama, I sent my friend a picture of a coati, a racoon like creature that had joined us for breakfast one day saying ‘look at the view I’ve got today!’ She responded instantly with a picture saying ‘and look at mine!’ It was of her work desk and a banana. People at home are not doing as many exciting things as you think and you are not missing out on all that much. I promise.
Your parents will think you’ve been kidnapped/are dead if you do not contact them frequently.
Travelling inevitably means that you will be hopping from location to location on a very frequent basis, sometimes daily if you’ve got an extremely short time frame or have a nightmare hostel experience (bed bugs. Need I say more).When movings not possible , invest in a silk liner to protect you from the grime! It’s also highly likely that the internet will be pain staking slow and although we’re not talking early noughties dial up speed, we are talking hands on either side of head, deep breathing type speed.
I know usually when you arrive somewhere, it’s after a long and often very sweaty journey pressed up against a stranger you don’t know on a chicken bus (sometimes with an actual chicken as a travel companion) but, and I cannot stress this enough, just send off a quick whatsapp, facebook message, email, carrier pigeon (probably slower than the internet you’re battling with but hey, don’t let me stop you, give it a shot) just to let someone know that you’re alive and you’ve made it okay. It really isn’t worth panicking your parents into contacting your country’s embassy to report that you’re missing because they haven’t heard from you in a week. It’s not unheard of for my parents to receive a message simply saying ‘I’m here’ or ‘alive’. That’s all they really care about anyway, they understand there’s a whole world out there for you to see.
As a side note, it’s also not okay to text your best friend as a way of avoiding asking the parents saying, ‘can you check the Terror warning for Kenya , please? Thanks’ whilst already in country and then give radio silence for a few days (sorry).
You will rethink and re-evaluate your hygiene levels
Now, I feel like I have to open this with a bit of disclosure in that usually I am a very hygienic person who likes a clean kitchen. It might not be tidy and likely to be cluttered with all kinds of crap but my god that kitchen will be clean, (which I have to admit my uni housemates will find hard to believe). You quickly realise when travelling that, unless you’re already pretty lax in the old hygiene arena, you cannot expect anything to be up to your usual standards. Hostel kitchens are disgusting. I said it, you were all thinking it. There will barely ever be a tin opener and when there is one it will be so rusty that it doesn’t work properly resulting in you dangerously stabbing your can of peas so ferociously you could be an extra in a slasher movie. There will never be a bottle opener, or if you are extremely lucky and find a hostel with one, it will be worth more to those staying there than all the Queen of England’s Crown Jewels.
Mattresses will be old, stained and so thin you can feel the bars of the bed frame beneath them; showers will be mouldy, shower curtains too. You will be so hot at times that you will sweat just standing still. I didn’t even know that was possible but Nicaragua taught me that all too well. Dirt will get places you didn’t expect and sometimes you will feel like your feet will just never be clean again. Washing your hair becomes less and less appealing as time goes on and the showers get colder. You will look like that typical travelling hippy by the time you get home, no matter how much you try not to (and secretly you’ll love it).
Getting the travel bug is a thing and the struggle is very, very real.
Wanderlust: It’s a term over used and splattered all over those amazingly beautiful looking travel photos on Instagram. It’s over used for a reason though, once you start travelling, it’s really hard to ever imagine you’ll stop. Yeah, sure, it is really nice to be home and see all your family and friends for a bit. But not long after you get that first desk job/bar job/’real adult job’ when you get back, your feet start to itch, you find yourself spending more and more company time looking at deals for flights online and get back to eating pasta and cheese again just so you can scrape together some pennies for that next flight out of there. As I’m moving towards my late 20’s now I’m feeling the pressure that I never thought I would with the ‘don’t you think it’s time to settle down?’ old chestnut. I’m very fortunate and no one has actually ever said this to me (well, to my face anyway) and it’s just the pressure from those bloody facebook pictures of people my age with mortgages, real jobs, kids making me feel like my life is a hot mess. So I can only imagine the pressure some travellers must feel to give it all up who do actually get given the dreaded speech.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know full well these people are not putting pictures up of their very different lives to me thinking ‘HA, I know what I’ll do today, I’ll put these pictures of my perfect life up on facebook just to make Izzy feel like her life choices are worth less! What a productive day!’ They are just sharing their lives because they are proud of it, exactly like I do with my travel snaps. No choice is better than the other, no matter what age you are. Life is what you make it and if travelling the world makes you happy, then go for it, if a house and kids makes you excited, then you go for that. Check out Jetsetters advice and travel tips.
4 things you should expect when travelling
“Only you know what makes your soul happy, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise”.
By Izzy McElhinney