The Dark Side of Traveling

I get a lot of comments about my site that are like: “wow. what your doing is amazing. I wish I could do that”. Indeed, traveling is pretty nice. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it. I’ve been able to see things, go places, and meet people that most people would never do in their lifetimes.

However, as glamorous as it seems, there is a dark side to traveling. The side you never think of that you have deal with on a daily basis when you are out on the road.

  • Body odor. Have you ever had to sit next to someone for a long period of time who had some horrendous B.O.? Often times, that guy is me. It isn’t as if I don’t shower every day. I do. I’m usually pretty paranoid about smelling bad. Back home, I would usually shower twice a day. The fact is, I only have a very small supply of clothing and I’ve spent a lot of time in places where you pretty much sweat all day. Even if I smell good, my clothes doesn’t and you can’t really wash clothes every day on the road.
  • Being stuck. I’m writing this in Melbourne. I’ve been here for it seems like forever trying to take care of paperwork. Until I get everything take care of, I can’t really leave. I’ve experienced this in the Pacific as well. I was stuck on Samoa for a week because of flight schedules. There isn’t much you can do about it but deal with it.
  • Being rushed. When you aren’t being stuck, you are often times rushed due to flight schedules. I only got to spend three days on Pohnpei, Micronesia. I wish I could have stayed there longer. Weather cut my visit to South Korea short. I got rained out on my visit to Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
  • Not knowing anyone. Yes you meet new people on the road, but they do sort of blend together. Everyone from the UK under the age of 23 is sort of the same person to me now. Almost everyone seems to fit into classification I’ve seen before: the young couple traveling, the group of girls traveling, the group of guys traveling, the guy traveling by himself. (I am not immune from the rule). Most of the people you meet have been to the same places, just in different order. The standard UK gap year trip seems to be Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, LA, New York. They may toss in some side trips to Hong Kong and take a train to Angkor Wat, but for the most part, the trips are all pretty similar. In Australia I’m seeing the “European here to work for six months”.
  • Rapid depreciation of stuff. Things tend to fall apart faster on the road than they do when you are at home. My spiffy MacBook Pro laptop which is less than a year old is really showing its age. The screen is dirty. The keyboard is dirty. The metal parts are scratched up. It works fine, but it is aging fast. My camera bag has tears in it. My clothes has stains which I will never get out. I’ve lost two hats, had a pair of sandals rip on me and crushed my prescription sunglasses. The effect of these things gets magnified when you only have a bag of stuff to your name.

9 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Traveling”

  1. Great post, definitely resonates. All aspects of the road I’ve mused on and considered, even though my trips are occasional. It’s interesting how knowing you’ll take to the road in a few months for another trip can influence relationship building, even when you’re not traveling.

  2. @Brian – I think this site classifies as a travel blog don’t you?

    Gary, considering you’re in Melbourne, I’d be happy to shout you lunch or something one day. Would love to hear more about your experiences in Rennell and Pohnpei in particular as I have lived in both places! Not often I come across others who have been there ;)

  3. Gary:

    Could you toss out some of the old, odor clothing and by ONE new shirt, hat etc.
    I know it will soil in time, but it will be newer and not soiled for a new duration.


  4. One other thing I noticed when I did the UK by myself last summer was the amount of crap that I got from Customs officers. Single white guy travelling by himself meant a lot of questions like ‘do you travel by yourself often, sir?’ ‘did you meet anyone on your trip, sir?’ I was always the guy holding up the customs line while the officer thumbed through my passport looking for suspicious country stamps.

  5. hi Gary,
    great looking site. You’re not planning a travelblog website are you ??!!
    Best wishes

  6. Yepp, I feel that sort of pain.
    At least I don’t have to hop as often as you do, but doing traveling for a “living” can get on your nerves from time to time ;)

  7. Great list. It’s a little different from business travel where every city looks the same from the inside of a hotel room

  8. I can see how not knowing anyone can make your days seem lonely and not really having a home or a routine. But, I am sure many would want to be in your shoes in a heart beat. As for body odor, you can smell that anywhere. I guess you could be stuck in worse places than Melbourne.

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