7 Lessons Learned From Travelling To 20 countries

Literally everyone and their stepdad’s Tinder bio reads “Loves travel, food and hiking” or some BS like that. But let’s get real. Unless you’re a luxury traveller, or travel on business, there are some definite wtf moments you experience when travelling that will make you question why you left home.

1.      All travel is expensive when you’re a broke b****


I am the self-proclaimed queen of cheap travelling. I’ve done everything to save money, from flying stand-by, petty theft, to couch surfing, yet I always end up dropping tons of money on supplies, food, necessities, visas, vaccines, excursions, not to mention opportunity cost.

Unless you have a full-time job with benefits and vacation pay (who are you, and can you hook a friend up?) or you’re a successful travel blogger, you’re probably not getting paid to take this vacation.

Whether you’re like me who works for a while, quits, travels, rinses & repeats – or you’re a student who’s using their time off to see the world; the time spent globetrotting could be spent gainfully employed. And for that, I think it’s important to factor in the money you’re losing out on when thinking about the cost of travel.

2.      Accommodations are never as they seem.


Here’s a breakdown of my personal feelings of the varying levels of accommodation you may experience:

  • Camping
    • Mosquitoes. Horseflies. Other bugs. Bears. Lack of indoor plumbing… Need I say more? (Don’t come at with with that glamping nonsense)
  • Couch surfing
    • Whether through the kindness of strangers, or crashing at a friend’s, CSing has its pros and cons.
    • Pros: Free! (but please, do something nice for your host)
    • Cons: Gotta be on your best behaviour and stick to your curfew. And sometimes your hosts are nudists (he was very nice).
  • Hostels
    • Some are really pleasant… or nice enough. But the ones in my budget range are often loud af, crowded, low on outlets, have rickety bunk beds, gross showers, low water pressure, questionable mould… but read some reviews to prepare yourself.
  • Airbnb
    • Some Airbnbs are basically CS situations… except you pay the host. The ones where you rent the entire space tend to be a lot nicer, but careful of personal artifacts of the home owner, noisy/annoying/intruding neighbours, lack of an information counter and cleaning fees.
  • Actual BnBs
    • These are cute… unless you’re single, then it’s just awkward. Also beware thin walls, creaking floorboards, creepy hosts and the general tendency to look like the setting of a horror movie.
  • Motels
    • Just watch American Horror Story: Motel
  • Hotels
    • When you pay extra to get the “Pyramid view” but your view is blocked by some palm trees. Rude. Also expensive af.
  • Resorts
    • Why is room service so hella expensive when everything else is free?
    • Also when you’re staying somewhere tropical and the A/C faces away from the beds. WHY.

3.      You might not make friends… and that’s OK.


I can be a pretty social butterfly, or an ugly antisocial moth depending on the day, but I managed to spend two months travelling solo around Australia and New Zealand and spoke to maybe 7 people who weren’t services workers. The idea that you’ll meet people travelling can be both true or false. It depends on how social you are and if you’re willing to engage people in conversation. Not all travellers are extroverted all the time.

4.      Groups continue to be the worst.


Travelling with friends and family can be wonderful. There’s safety in numbers, there’s none of that anxiety that comes with travelling alone. Everything is great…. until it’s not.

When in a group, it’s going to be harder, if not impossible, to have the same types of impromptu adventures afforded to solo travellers. The constant pressure of always accounting for everyone else, scheduling activities and accommodations that fit everyone’s needs, budgets and lifestyles can be overwhelming.

The stress of travelling, especially budget travelling tends to bring out a side of people you may not be familiar with. Some people are not as adept at adjusting to life outside their comfort zone which can quickly turn a holiday into a drag.

5.      There are some things money can’t buy.


Such as good weather, getting back your lost bags and the ability to travel back in time to do the thing you missed out on. #FOMO, am I right? Also hangovers. Can’t buy those away. (Except maybe with a little hair of the dog)

6.      Ignorant people are everywhere and the world is not your oyster.


As a queer POC, I’ve experienced microaggressions and hate speech directed at me everywhere I’ve been. Though most people are well–intentioned, be weary that certain commonplace cultural or societal practices where you live might not be seen in the same light at your destination. If you’re actively mindful and respectful of local laws, cultures, and customs, you shouldn’t have any issues.

7.      The travel life is not for everyone.


While, I clearly prioritize travel in my life, I’m against the rhetoric that travel is something that everyone needs to experience.

The ability to travel for pleasure is a marker of class privilege that not everyone is afforded or even needs to exercise. Being well-travelled doesn’t, by itself, make someone better, smarter, or more culturally sensitive.

But, when done with an open mind and heart to appreciate the local histories, peoples, cultures, and customs; travelling can make for a transformative experience – one which I highly recommend (if you’re ready and able).

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