Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ten Reasons Why You Should Never Travel the World for a Year

Man stares out at water and sunset with boats and islands

*UPDATE: See Part 2 of this list here: http://www.walkingamadeus.com/2019/04/ten-reasons-why-you-should-never-travel.html

Sure it seems glamorous, exciting, challenging... an opportunity of a lifetime, yadda, yadda. Travel around the world for long periods of time is hard, and you should consider these reasons to just stay home:

10. All Toilets Are Not Created Equal
Sure, they serve the same purpose in every country, but you like having toilet paper, do ya? You like knowing you can sit down if you need to, do ya? Not every culture does. You just might find yourself hovering (hope you have good knees and good aim) and in a bit of a pickle that could ruin a good portion of your day. The good news is that you may just find yourself inclined to the habit of A) economically utilizing the tissue you've learned to bring with you, and B) finding cool new ways to form disposable balls of used said tissues for the bin on the floor... even if there isn't one.

9. You Will Probably Get Sick
It could be a mysterious rash, some sort of gift from a random insect, or Delhi Belly, but unless you are rich enough to stay in nice hotels and eat at great restaurants all the time, you are vulnerable to all sorts of things that might put a damper on your travel plans (or life). The good news is they oftentimes have medicines for those things, even in developing nations... and sometimes toilets to sit on.

8. You Will Miss Lots of Birthdays
... And graduations, and holidays. It's no fun for an American to spend Fourth of July in a place where nobody cares, and some places you just can't source turkey or cranberries for Thanksgiving. You will probably miss your favorite sports, because people in other countries don't watch it, and if they did, it might be on at some strange hour when you should be sleeping. What you will get to do is turn on the Facebook and see lots of pictures of your friends and family celebrating and having fun without you.

7. You Will Be Ruined for Proper Croissants and Great Ceviche
Yes, for the rest of your life you will resent all failed attempts at replicating the best foods of the world. That juice in a can will never be as good as fresh buko juice that your friend's grandfather climbed the tree to get for you. The list can go on and on, but I think you get the point.

6. You Will Lose Things
I prefer the term "liberate," because it sounds like I'm doing something good for the world. Sometimes it's the little things like a phone charger at the hostel or one of your favorite socks at the laundry service. Other times it could be your purse or your cell phone that walked away when you weren't looking. The good news is you just enriched the local economy, and that is admirable, my friend.

5. Home Will Annoy You
Now, not everything, of course; you will always love your In-N-Out Double Double, your dog, and your mother (not necessarily in that order). However, the more you learn about the world by being out in it, the more some things will seem petty when you return. See those little kids over there happily playing with marbles or playing some sort of dodgeball with their sandals? Yeah, it makes mandatory gift bags after soccer matches and other eccentricities seem horribly unnecessary when people on the other side of the world live very full lives with much less.

4. You Can't Take It With You
So you would love to collect great bottles of wine to take home with you? No. Maybe you found some great antique bookends in Morocco. No. Artwork? The answer is no. In most cases, what you want may be too heavy, delicate, perishable, or bulky to add to your already overloaded backpack. No.

3. You Won't Be Comfortable
What's that? You don't like the feeling of a stranger's elbow, thigh, two small children, or chicken touching you for three hours on a bus built for 2/3 the capacity it is carrying? You like the feeling of not being lost every other day? You know that couch with pillows or that glass full with ice? Get over it.

2. People Will Rip You Off
See #6. Yes, there is no better deed that gifting your weekly travel budget to a community in need, but sometimes you want to hold on to as much money as you can. There are bad people everywhere who target travelers, and unless you are always on your A-game, you are the target. Cheating tourists is a $2 billion a year business (I made that number up). Taxi drivers, street vendors... sometimes policemen or even your own hotel are all in on it. I got stuck paying $200 extra to enter a country, and my own airline had me detained overnight in an airport. You will learn to trust no one.

1. The People You Will Have to Leave
You will meet some of the best people in your travels. In some cases, you might think, "What if this person lived in my same city?" You will have random discussions with strangers that will enlighten you. You may share moments with someone who could be your best friend. Most of these people you will never see again. You will say a lot of goodbyes... if you're lucky. The people you leave may be the hardest part.

Now... given all these warnings, if you still want to go out and see the world - actually live out in the world - I've done my part to admonish you. I can't be held responsible. And good for you.