Travel and Exchange, the blog of travelers who change currency

10 things no one will tell you about travelling

10 things no one will tell you about travelling

Travelling is one of the best things you’ll ever do in life; it’s a unique experience. Travelling will teach you how to be free in the broadest sense of the word. Travelling is the best investment you’ll ever make.

Travelling is indeed one of the best things one can do, but it is not always as be great as everyone pictures it. Hence, here we bring you have a selection of 10 things no one will tell you about travelling:

1. Sometimes the straight path is not a welcome sight or how travelling in local transport takes ages

You look at your map, mark spots A and B, check the distance between them, calculate the average, and estimate that your journey will take approximately 2 hours. We regret to tell you that, when you are travelling, this is not always how it goes.

Depending on the country you are in, this rule is inversely proportional to the initial calculation. The closer the two points are in a map, the longer it will take you to reach them.

This is one of the things that no one will tell you about travelling; long hours in uncomfortable buses, sleepless nights in trains because your bunk buddy can’t stop snoring, unbearable hours stuck in traffic during rush hour, inside a tuk-tuk, feeling how pollution penetrates every inch of your body.

Transporte local

However, there is something we can’t deny, and that is that when you are travelling, this doesn’t affect you as much, and a lot of the times, despite the long hours, these journeys gift us with incredible views and experiences.

2. Long waiting hours at airports, bus and train stations

Everyone wants to be you when you are going away, even when you admit that you have to take a 13-hour flight and have a layover with 8 hours to kill at the airport. Despite that, they keep thinking you are the luckiest person alive.

And you are in a way, but who can say they enjoy having to sit in a chair for 8 hours straight trying to take a nap?

The airport in Dubai, for instance, a usual stop in flights to Asia, is amazing; they even have reclining seats that look like beds, but see if you are lucky enough to get one.

Naturally, they will be taken when you get there and no one will leave you theirs, no matter how hard you try to pull your sad face. Instead, you will probably have to spend your spare 8 hours between a regular chair and the countless shops in the airport, where you will be able to find pretty much anything you are looking for. Needless to say, at prohibitive prices.

3. Food is not always delicious or gentle to your stomach

Food is one of the reasons why a lot of people travel the world. Trying exotic dishes, new flavours or impossible textures becomes part of the trip, although it is not always as good as it seems. Travellers are on a tight budget most of the times, so they don’t go around sitting in nice restaurants eating high on the hog.

Sometimes, that has its drawbacks. The biggest issue is called Traveller’s Diarrhoea. This illness gets into your system, it doesn’t give you a break for as long as it lasts. Meanwhile, you curse yourself for craving that greasy samosa from the street food stand.

Another thing is that you might want to try some unusual local dish, such as the cuy in Peru, and end up with a guinea pig on your plate.  In this particular case, we have to admit that it was delicious but, while you’re at it, you cannot stop thinking about the way the guinea pig might have looked before putting it on the frying pan.

Imagen del cuy, comida típica de Perú.

4. The language gap (in some occasions)

Speaking the language should be one of our travel essentials. Without it, we would be lost most of the times. Be it through gestures or smiles, communication is a must.

Most of the times we won’t know the local language, but since they say you can go anywhere if you speak English, maybe we should not be worried. Unfortunately, we have to say this is not always true. You should know that in a lot of countries, especially the farther away you get from the tourists hotspots, gesturing and smiling are more powerful than English, although it is also true that sometimes (although more rarely) these are also useless.

It is not rare to hopelessly give up for failing at trying to communicate with locals at a train station or to ask someone we just bumped into whether we are going in the right direction, get an affirmative answer and realise half an hour later that we are going the opposite way we were supposed to.

Although not all are bad experiences, and let what happened to us in Sri Lanka serve you as an example. On our trip there we met Wasathi, a girl that was just on her way to visit her sister in a village near Dambulla and who would not stop staring at us with a smile on her face. We approached her to start a conversation, but we did not speak Sinhalese, nor did she speak English. However, and we still don’t know how, we ended up exchanging our addresses. Today, three years later, we keep writing letters to each other. She is learning English at school, so it is a lot easier to communicate with her now than when we first met.

Imagen de Wasathi en Sri Lanka.

5. You won’t like everywhere you go

When we depart on a trip, we put our soul and heart into it.

Sometimes we’ll lose heart because not all places will look as idyllic or exotic as in travel guides or the pictures from the catalogues they have at travel agencies. Sometimes, some of the places we will be visiting will be so packed with people and will look so chaotic to you that you will find them completely dispensable.

In some other occasions, the water from that idyllic beach will lose the turquoise colour it had on the travel guide and will look a lot more mundane to us. It might even happen that the monument you were so eager to see will be surrounded by scaffoldings (something quite common when travelling around Europe, where building works are the order of day).

6. Changing accommodation on a daily basis is exhausting sometimes

This is another one of those things no one tells you about when talking about how wonderful is it to travel. Travelling means moving, and when you move you change places, which also implies changing accommodation.

Doing that when you are carrying a 15-kilo backpack over your shoulders and you are on budget is not as easy as it seems. Not to mention the sentiment of wanting to find a place that feels like home in the midst of so many changes.

Although it is true that visiting new places and meeting new people is exhilarating, sometimes our body, but especially our mind, needs to rest in the same place for a few days and wake up knowing where we are.

7. Not everyone is good, even if you want to believe so

As a rule of thumb, people who are used to travelling, and moving around, are more open-minded with regards to the people surrounding them.

This is something good, but we cannot relax either because, unfortunately, not everyone is as good as they seem, even if this is hard to admit.

There are countries you can travel to with no fear of being mugged, scammed or similar, and others where you will have to pay special attention because picaresque is ingrained in their culture. It is not our intention to be dramatic here, but it is something we should know and not leave to fate or luck, otherwise we will regret not having being forward thinking.

This, in certain countries, forces you to be constantly alert, which is something that, at the end of the day, represents some added stress for our trip. Take what happened to us during a Safari in Minneriya (Sri Lanka) as an example. A couple of hours into the safari, the driver encouraged us to get off the car and stretch our legs in an open ground where there was no apparent danger, while he proceeded to make some calls. We did not hesitate, we got off, left our bags behind and went for walk around the area. When we came back, we did not get any bad vibes or felt like anything was going to happen. On the following day (after the safari, we went straight to the hotel and didn’t leave the room for the night), we realised we were missing part of the money we kept in one of the bags. Going through our pictures, we spotted that the driver had never left the 4×4 the whole time, never losing sight of us. We reported it to the police and they even wanted to put him in jail. However, we didn’t want things to escalate; we just made the call to warn them and keep an eye on it.
It is true though, that this is just an isolated case and that people in Sri Lanka is wonderful in all aspects.

8. There will always be some place left to visit

When we travel, especially if we do it for a limited period of time, a lot of us try to fit so much into our schedules that there are days we don’t even have time to breathe.

In the end, you come back so tired that you need to go on vacation again to recharge your batteries.

Planning the trip and realising you can’t possibly fit in all you want to do can be exhausting and, sometimes, frustrating.

Although here, we have to add that it is a good strategy to leave something out so that you have an excuse to come back.

9. Not all beaches are idyllic nor all destinations exotic

How many times have you heard the phrase «that looks like such an exotic country» whenever you decide to travel somewhere far away? Whatever the country, it seems like the farther it is, the most exotic it has to be.

This is not always true. Take India, for instance. A lot of the times, India is regarded as an exotic destination. Maybe this is the result of some of the pictures of luxury resorts and temples we see in travel agencies. We hate to say it but, if you are travelling on your own, setting luxury aside, this is not what you will find. India can be a lot of things, but there is no doubt that exotic cannot be used in the literal sense of the word.

Playa paradisíaca en Tailandia.

10. All that glitters is not gold

A lot of people, when they find out how often we travel, believe we are very fortunate. Of course we are, but most of the times they are not aware, or do not realise that there is a lot of work behind a trip if we want to plan it well.

It is true that for us the trip starts the moment we start thinking about it, but so does the work.

Purchasing plane tickets, booking accommodations, exchanging your travel money into the local currency, planning itineraries, reading about the destination, working your way around the internet while you try to look for information about a little known destination… All this requires long hours and a great dedication. All that glitters is not gold.

However, if you do enjoy travelling, all these little details no one tells you about, end up being stories to tell your friends. What about you, what do you find most annoying about travelling?

Vanessa Santiago

Autora de "Viajeros Callejeros" (www.viajeroscallejeros.com), un blog en el que escribo sobre mis viajes alrededor del mundo, proporcionando datos prácticos como rutas, transporte, alojamientos y lugares a visitar en cada país, para poder organizar tu propio viaje por libre con información de primera mano. Mi gran pasión, como reflejo en el blog, es viajar y lo hago tanto como puedo. Y quién sabe, quizás algún día se convierta en mi modo de vida.

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