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If you’re lucky enough to travel, you know that this world is full of amazing experiences. From taking a hot air balloon over Cappadocia, to a train across Canada, there are tons of different and exciting things you can do while traveling. But going on a trip isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and puppies (although there are usually dogs). Unfortunately, sometimes even the best trips will have a downside.
Here are a few of the unfortunate side effects of traveling that you might experience yourself while on the road. This isn’t meant to turn you away from traveling, just to give a glimpse into the other side.
The first thing that nearly all frequent travelers have to deal with is exhaustion. While being at each destination is an adventure and a half, getting there can be exhausting. Even Researchers at the University of Surrey and Lund University found that the realities of travel often didn’t match up to the glamorous ways it’s been portrayed in mass media. Effects on frequent travelers include jet lag, deep-vein thrombosis, radiation exposure, stress, loneliness, and distance from family and community networks. All these compounded can take a toll on a person – I know from personal experience!
You may also just get mentally exhausted dealing with the same things over and over again. Yes, you can get tired of traveling. Of everything. After a while, everything becomes just another “one of.” The 100th hostel, bus ride, bar, waterfall… after a while, things begin to lose their charm. Ask any traveler. At some point, they will hit a point where they are sick of traveling and need a few days or weeks to recharge their batteries. And if you need to go home to find that spark again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Long Travel Times
While traveling somewhere new is always exciting, the journey to get there often isn’t. Long-haul flights are an unfortunate reality of global travel, and can often be downright exhausting. Aviation Job Net reports that Qantas is looking at launching a 20-hour flight from Sydney to New York, which has gotten mixed reactions from passengers.
But you’d be lucky to even get a straight flight from point A to B. If you’re flying to another continent there are usually multiple stopovers, which can lead to missed connections and more travel frustrations. And sometimes, you can’t even fly to where you want to go. Many of the world’s best gems are only accessible by long and bumpy bus rides. Personally, I try to travel by land and sea when I can in an effort to travel more sustainably. But sometimes it can feel like I live on a bus, and it takes a toll on you.
Feeling Lonely and Homesick
If you’re traveling solo, or even with friends, you’re inevitably going to have days when you feel lonely. Although the truth is your rarely alone when traveling, this doesn’t mean you won’t feel it. Sometimes you may just not find anyone you connect with, and it can make you miss the familiarity of home.
On the other side of things, you will likely form deep, amazing connections while on the road. I firmly believe that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet, and I’ve met some of my best friends through traveling.
But the sad part is that even when you do form those deep connections, traveling always ends in goodbyes. The constant flow of hellos and goodbyes is mentally exhausting. Although one of the best things about traveling is all the people, it’s also one of the worst. After a while, you become numb to it all and sometimes, I just don’t want to meet anyone. After all, why would you want to put your energy into getting to know someone when you know you will just be leaving tomorrow?
The best thing to remember is that with social media and technology now it’s easy to stay in touch with both family and friends at home, and new friends that you meet on the road. If you’re having a bad day or feel lonely, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend at home. Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions, and it’s perfectly normal to feel these things even when you’re in paradise.
Lost Baggage Woes
There’s nothing more stressful about traveling than having to deal with lost luggage. It can be one of the most frustrating experiences when you’re far from home, especially if you have to chase after another flight immediately. Things are improving though. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2017, there was a 12.25% drop in lost baggage compared to 2016. That means only 5.73 bags per thousand passengers were lost in 2017. While it’s not perfect, updates in technology and tracking will hopefully make things easier on passengers in the future.
… And stolen belongings
Even if the airline doesn’t lose your bag, there’s always a risk of having your belongings stolen while traveling. Earlier this year, I had my Airbnb burgled in Iceland and lost all my camera gear. It was devastating. While it’s unlikely that something as horrible as that will happen to you (that was the worst thing in 10 years of travel), you do have to be prepared that all your belongings may not make it home with you. If you’re constantly moving from place to place it’s inevitable you’ll leave something behind time from time. I can’t tell you how many water bottles and hats of mine are floating somewhere in the world (hopefully being loved by someone else).
To avoid having items stolen, take safety precautions such as locking your belongings away with a good lock in your hostel/hotel, and avoid walking around at night/sketchy areas with your stuff. But the truth is the only thing that can (monetarily) protect you is to buy travel insurance that protects your personal belongings. I use and recommend World Nomads.
Finally, one of the most unfortunate side effects of traveling can be what comes after — post-travel depression, also known as vacation blues. The rush of excitement that comes from exploring somewhere new can come crashing down once you return to the regular workaday world. Psychology Today has some tips and tricks you can do in order to ease the transition post-travel. These tips include appreciating what was, integrating your new experience into your life, and taking a closer look at the life you do live. Making the transition back into regular life can be hard on anyone, and it’s important that you treat yourself with care.
Still, even with all of these downsides, I wouldn’t change my lifestyle for anything else. Traveling has led to the most amazing moments of my life. At the end of the day, you don’t remember the long bus rides or 3 am wake up calls. You remember the amazing moments. The sun rising at the top of the mountain, laughing to the point of tears with new friends from all over the world, seeing an elephant for the first time in the wild. These are the beautiful moments that we travel for, and the journey is always worth it.