Travel is Hard, Why Do It?
Travel is Worth the HardshipClick thumbnail to view full-size
The thing about travel is, it will almost definitely be among the best, and the worst, times of your life.
People romanticize backpacking trips, staying in hostels, and travel by planes, trains, and buses. But often these people fail to mention the hardships faced when traveling. If you travel to far away countries with cultures very different than your own you are going to be faced with adversary and tough realizations.
People are always wondering how to travel, where to travel, what to do, but often they don't take the time to prepare themselves for the challenges they are bound face.
Don’t let the hard things scare you away from traveling, but you do need to think critically about these issues before you leave. If you’re aware of the problems that may arise in foreign lands you can be better equipped to handle them.
Here’s the thing - travel is hard, do it anyway.
#1 Harassment while Traveling
Street harassment abroad is by and far one of the most common travel problems. This issue is especially prevalent as women travelers, but effects men as well.
Nobody really likes tourists invading their cities and homes – and you will probably run into the odd person who isn’t afraid to let you know it. They don’t care that you’re plugging money into their economy or that you want to learn about their culture; they’re just annoyed that you’re there, you don’t speak the language, and you stand out.
People often forget that this isn’t just an issue when you visit countries in Asia and Africa. I’ve seen tourists fly across the world to visit America and run into incredibly rude people on the street. Sometimes people make inappropriate and racist comments, sometimes they yell slurs, and sometimes these interactions can even result in physical violence. No matter where you go there are wonderful fantastic I’ll-never-forget-you people, and then there are jerks.
There is no way to avoid the jerks, they’re everywhere. They’re on every continent, in every country. But, you can make yourself less susceptible to their general jerkiness.
How to travel the world safely
- Know the culture you’re visiting. If a culture is more conservative adapt your demeanor so you stand out less.
- Try to learn a little bit of the language. Knowing how to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry” goes a long way
- Be prepared to politely ignore rude people.
- Don’t take it personally, unhappy people don’t hate you, they just hate.
- Do some research into solo travel destinations – know the safety of where you're going.
#2 Risks of Theft While Traveling
Between staying in hostels, sleeping in airports and the threat of pickpocketing theft is a real issue most people face. The worst part is, there isn’t a sure strategy for theft prevention. Sure there are a variety of products and strategies people employ to prevent theft, but in the end nothing is 100%.
I have five basic steps to handling theft while traveling
- Don’t bring anything with you that you are afraid to lose
- Know what you have and where you keep it
- Keep track of your passport at all times – lock it in a safe, hide it, whatever it takes
- Remember that losing things isn’t the end of the world, keep backup cash, your phone in the front pocket, and hide your passport; you can afford to lose everything else
- Utilize the internet. Go to Google and search "Theft in Italy" or "Theft in wherever you're visiting". Chances are somebody has traveled there before and has tips.
#3 Travel-Related Stress
You never realize how stressful travel is until you truly try to plan it. Planes are late, you miss connecting flights, hostels are full, you lose your wallet, you can’t find wifi, you’re sleep deprived… there are so many situations that arise during travel that are just hard. The best thing you can do is remember that travel is 100% guaranteed to be worth it.
Things will go wrong. That I can promise you. But you have to remember that when sh*t hits the fan and everything is a mess it isn’t the end of the world. Spending $200 on a new plane ticket because you bought the wrong ticket feels horrible in the moment but in a few short months it’ll become a story you tell over and over again (trust me, I’ve been there).
My steps to handling stress
- You need sleep. It doesn’t feel that important but it really is, you won’t enjoy anything walking around in a haze
- You don’t need to go out every night, a night in the hostel is not a wasted
- Buy that overpriced plane ticket home, it sucks but you’ll be okay
- Figure out what helps you distress (ie running, yoga, meditation) and be prepared to use it to handle bad days
Why Do You Travel?
Why should you travel?
Because travel gives you perspective. It gives you memories to look back on and truly unique experiences. You learn how to overcome obstacles. You experience self discovery and develop personally. People often fail to warn you about the bad parts of travel because they pale in comparison to the good.
I once got stranded at an airport in London, but I in no way regret that I visited. When I traveled to Morocco I spent many grueling hours on trains and it was horrible. But now that experience is one of my favorite stories.
What I’m trying to say is travel is worth it. The stress, planning, sleeplessness, and hard work is all worth it because travel can change your life. It opens your eyes to foreign people and foreign places (and sometimes those people aren’t always so nice, but who cares).