What's the biggest challenge you face as a traveller?
Travelling is awesome. Actually, scratch that. Travelling is fucking U N R E A L. Anyone with a few stamps on their passport, an innate sense of curiosity and a beating heart can tell you that.
However, it's not always perfect.
As someone who - in the past 4 years alone - has travelled to 23 countries, lived in 3 different parts of the world and has pledged the rest of her life to exploring and travelling the planet, I often get emails and messages from people who say that my life looks so 'easy'. Glamourous. Exciting. Daring.
Let me assure you, it ain't.
Sure, I experience heaps of awesome moments when I'm travelling abroad and exploring the world; that's why I choose to live my life this way. It can be exciting. It can be daring. But in all honesty, sometimes it's downright fucking H A R D.
The homesickness. The confusion. The isolation. Not understanding the language or the politics. Culture overwhelm. Financial stress. And of course, that FOMO mofo.
There are times when the travelling life seems to be fraught with challenges and difficulties; an seemingly endless string of fuck-ups and mistakes, wrong turns and dead ends. Sometimes you look at other people's lives back home and think, I hate myself for saying this, but that steady job, white picket fence, 2.5 kids and a labrador is starting to look appealing. Damn.
For a long time I thought I was the only person who experienced challenges when travelling [a little self-centred and egotistical of me, I'll admit]. I'd look at everyone else's Instagram/Facebook/travel websites and think, Wow, these peeps have nailed this travelling lifestyle! What the hell is wrong with me? and then proceed to curl into a ball of self-pity and loathing. Yep, even travellers get the blues.
Desperate to not feel like a total fucking nutcase, I sent a message out to travellers all around the world via Instagram to see if I could get some perspective on one simple question:
What's the biggest challenge you face as a traveller?
The response was overwhelming. Turns, out, I'm not the only one who struggles with shit when living out of a suitcase.
From leaving behind loved ones to facing fears; the cost of travelling [both financially and physically] and the lingering sense of never belonging anywhere; it seems that all of us with itchy feet and a heart full of wanderlust are challenged by something:
"Living abroad is both the hardest and most rewarding challenge of my life. I feel like I am constantly pulled in two directions: Wanting to be present in the moment and enjoy every second of living in the place I've chosen to create a home with my partner; and the sadness of knowing that I'm missing out on being a part of my friends and family's lives back in my home country. It's a double-edged sword and sometimes it hurts like a motherf*cker."
- Shanny Matterson, R E B E L + R O A M | @rebelandroam
"Relying on good wifi to plan book and move from city to city" - Salted Gypsy | @saltedgypsy
"As a traveller, I had to learn sometimes the best way to experience things was to switch off all technology and only use my eyes to see (then eventually take a few pics to remember the day). We get so focused on telling everyone about it on social media, it's good to sometimes switch off and enjoy the moment in real life" - Ariana Kajic, The Bosnian Aussie |@thebosnianaussie
"Work/life balance. I will always choose the surf over my emails but sometimes that leads to a backlog of work! That and terrible wifi; it's totally a first world problem, but when your income is based online, it's a killer!" - Chris Stevens, Backpacker Banter | @backpackerbanter
"The whole meaning of "home" changes when you live the life of a traveller. Home becomes everywhere and nowhere, and there's no going back. The feeling of belonging also changes entirely, too. It's a real challenge to adapt to belonging nowhere, except with my two feet and wherever we find ourselves. It's a blessing and a curse to live this way"
"I struggle with the traditional 2 weeks (10 days) of paid vacation time given to the majority of entry level employees here in the U.S. I believe a lot of talent is lost this way; whether to a company with better benefits or through people deciding to pursue their entrepreneurial spirit. Luckily, I found a job that included travel opportunities and of course, I'm an avid weekend adventurer" - Valerie Garcia | @missgarcia_travels
"My biggest challenge is returning "home"... returning to "normal life". Realising when I get back, my real home is anywhere but home. Travelling, exploring, experiencing new things makes me feel more at home than any house or possession ever will!" - Angela, The Brunette Travels | @thebrunettetravels
"Definitely my IBS and some serious food intolerance I have. I absolutely love trying new foods but unfortunately I have to be extra careful when traveling!" - Joanna Romano | @fitbackpacker
"Being that I only get 2 weeks vacation and I want to split them up, that gives me a week at a time. I squeeze as much in as possible. Example: I had never been to the east coast so within a weeks time I went to Manhattan, Niagara falls, Boston, Wash DC and Philly. It was nonstop and I wish I had more time in each city to really enjoy them but as they say 'I'd rather see something once than hear about it a thousand times'. Also language barriers. I'm too paranoid " - Erin | @wanderlust_and_lipstick
"My biggest challenge is digesting just how much there is to see in this big wide world and coming to terms with not being able to see it all in this lifetime. Juggling plans for a home and starting a family along with the desire to be a complete nomad means that I'll need to sacrifice some of the trips on my bucket list (and alter others as I want travel and exploration to be a part of my children's lives). It's a somewhat painful realization that life really is too short and we can't always see it all"
"Constantly meeting new friends and then saying goodbye soon after... and [this sounds stupid] but I do miss my comfort food [poutine and sushi] when I travel for an extended period of time" - Tales of Wander | @tales.of.wander
"Knowing when to trust someone and when to say no. It's a balance between keeping safe and new experiences, but I have learnt to trust my gut instinct!" - Amy Guest | @amy_guest_
"Often it's myself - not being in the moment enough!" - Laura Murphy | @galmoygal
"Deciding what events to go home for. It's awful having to prioritise friends and family in that way"
"The biggest challenge when traveling would have to be choosing where to go next. There is a whole big beautiful world out there with so many wonderful things to see. Trying to limit your time in one place so that you can see more in the next is hard. What is enough? That's the challenge" - Cartwheeling Gypsy | @cartwheelinggypsy
"Setting the pace when you only have a limited amount of time in a destination. I want to do and see everything in a city, and check off all the tourist must-dos. But I also want to go slow, spend all day in a cafe or park, and live like a local" - @lchimko
"Carrying my suitcase" - Jackie | Get Lost With Jackie | @getlostwithjackie
"Our biggest challenge is feeling like travel always has to be this amazing, life-changing experience. Just like at home, there are swings and roundabouts; you might dislike a place you thought you’d love, spend 4 days with food poisoning, or plans don’t work out - and it’s totally ok! Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves to always enjoy travel, and when you do that it becomes stressful. Taking time to appreciate each experience as it happens and move on if things don’t go our way is the key. Plus, awesome trips make great memories, but bad ones are great for re-telling over drinks later!" - The Common Wanderer | @thecommonwanderer
"The biggest challenge is coming home, and not really being sure what home is anymore. Suddenly it is not just a place or a house you grew up in. Suddenly home is the airport runway, the feeling of landing to somewhere new yet again and the feeling of leaving yet again for another adventure. You get addicted to these feelings and can never return as the person you were before"
"I get crazy allergies to just about anything that bites me, but I love going places that are always bug habitats! I trekked through the Colombian jungle and to Machu Piccu and came back with scars all over my legs and feet from spiders and mozzies. So worth it!" - Anne Bridgette | @annebridgette
"Finding the balance between following my nomadic dreams and my desire to be close to my friends - who now live in at least 3 different major continents!" - Dilara | @dilaraflywild
"My biggest challenge as a traveler is coming home again. As the days draw closer to my return to 'the real world', I almost feel panic set in and a need to see and experience so much more and soak up every last second like a sponge! I hate 'the end'...." - Imagine8ing | @imagine8ing
"My biggest challenge is being confident my expenditure is going local operators and suppliers, not multi-national corporates. I really believe in supporting local owner-operators of accommodation options, activity/tour operators and cafes/restaurants when I travel. I see it as an investment in the community that had allowed me an insight into their lives" - Candice | @candocando
What about you? What's the biggest challenge you face as a traveller? Share your experiences in the comments below!
| Title Image: Unsplash |