The Best & Worst Parts of Traveling
This has got to be the worst part of traveling. First, you spend months counting down the calendar anticipating that amazing light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel day your vacation finally comes. Then, the day finally arrives. This is it! So long, stress… Sayonara work! Arrivaderci real world, I’m going off the grid! But… wait. You get to wait some more! Airports are one big waiting central, with ticket lines, security lines, lines to get your 10 magazines, lines to board the plane, the annoying wait to deplane, the never-ending wait to 10,000 feet so you can finally turn on TaySwift on your iPod…. It’s all one big waiting scam. But the worst has to be when you’re forced to watch that stupid metal carousel circle around and around and around for what feels like hours. “YES! There it is! My bag! Finally!!!!” Oh wait, some lady grabs it… not your bag. Keep waiting. Finally got your bag? OK! The wait is over! The wait is over! You can finally start relaxing!….. As long as you don’t have to wait for a train, your car rental shuttle or drive a whole other hour to your hotel only to wait more for the 4pm hotel check in. Traveling is exhausting.
Relaxing is the trade-off to all that exhausting waiting. Although it may seem that you have to jump through a million hoops to get there, by the time you’re on that beach lounge in the sand, margarita in hand, we seem to easily forget about all the hassle that travel ensues, as all that waiting begins to pay off. So, whether you’re relaxing with bronzing skin and melting margaritas in Tulum, a bottle of wine and a warm fireplace in Napa Valley, a gondola and Italian music in Venice, or simply a good book on the cobblestone streets of Charleston… make time to enjoy the quiet break away from reality, wherever you are. After all, relaxing is what vacationing is for.
I’m gonna go ahead and say most of us don’t love to be surprised when it comes to the food we eat. OK OK, I get that sometimes this can be one of the best parts of traveling, tasting some exotic foods that truly represent a culture… I get that. But, I personally would like to find a balance between exotic/unique and full-on Fear Factor. I don’t really want to mistakenly find out I’ve eaten bear tongue or fried alligator feet (both have happened, in Finland and Africa). There are some pretty gross foods around the world, and props to you if cow eyeballs become your new favorite office snack…but I think I’ll stick to my american string cheese.
Although I’m not the most adventurous when it comes to all the local ‘delicacies’, I must admit that the sushi I’ve had in Japan was the best in the world, nevermind that I didn’t know what I was ordering, aside from asking for anything with “abokado” (an actual japanese word for avocado) and watching them create these gorgeous raw masterpieces that featured god-knows-what along with my abokado.. but dang was that sushi delicious. So my travel advice to you is this: definitely step out of your comfort zone a little, don’t pass over a foreign authentic place for a McDonald’s anytime soon, but take a pocket dictionary with you just to make sure you know if what that Spanish bar is serving you is some good ol’ chicken wings, or if it’s “criadillas”…..bull testicles (yep, they’re really popular.. ole!).
Doing things you can’t do at home
This may seem a little contradictory to my don’t-go-eating-things-you’ll-regret paragraph, but I believe doing things we can’t do at home is one of the best parts of traveling. If you go to a new place and immediately fall into your same old at-home routine, you’re not doing it right. Traveling is all about trying new things! Whether that’s learning something new, like surfing or scuba diving, or doing something adventurous, like skydiving, ziplining or parasailing. Take advantage of your time in a foreign country or in a new city to take yourself to new heights of experience. It’s an amazing feeling to learn something new, even if it’s something small like how to make a lei in Hawaii or something lifelong like an Italian cooking lesson. These are unique experiences that will shape your travels, so, in the wise words of nike, just do it.
Unpacking is by far my least favorite aspect of traveling. I dread it an unhealthy amount. I will usually put it off as long as possible, just eyeing that suitcase in the corner of the room and wishing I could go back to the excitement of packing instead of the annoying chore that is unpacking all my dirty clothes. My bikini still has sand on it… My coverups still smell like the ocean…my favorite dress has a mai tai stain on it. I’m gonna go cry and look at pictures of my trip for over/under three hours now. OK bye. It’s inevitable that unpacking is going to remind you of the trip-that-was, and when your vacation is over and it’s back to the real world , this is the most annoying reality check ever.
Packing, on the other hand, is an amazing part of traveling. It’s full of excitement for your trip… and, of course, shopping. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t start packing for vacations weeks before them, at least in the form of planning my outfits in my head. I already have all my outfits picked out for my trip to Hawaii in two weeks, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I read somewhere that women, on average, spend more money on clothes for a trip than on the actual trip, which, honestly, didn’t surprise me at all. New bikinis? New travel bag? New floppy hat? Travel sized beauty products? Passport cover? Maybe a new suitcase? check, check and check. A vacay is, first and foremost, an excuse to shop. And who doesn’t love the feeling of packing all those adorable new clothes you can’t wait to wear?
I have a love-hate relationship with airports. On the one hand, they are the waiting, waiting, and more waiting hells that I described earlier in this post. But, on the other hand, they are centers of excitement and chaos that you can’t help but love. I’ve had my best people-watching moments in airports… wondering where everyone is going, what each of their stories are. And I’ve met and had the best conversations with the most interesting people in the airport, from army men coming home to their families after 3 years, to honeymooners, to couples traveling together after 50 years of marriage. I’ve met people from different countries, and I’ve had kind strangers help me navigate new cities. Airports connect people from all over the world, taking you to new places, or simply bringing you home. They will never cease to amaze me, even if they’re sometimes the most irritating places on the planet.
Yep, that picture is me in Mauritius, Africa… hanging out with a wild lion (see that stick in my hand- that’s for protection!). Something you could never do in America, and something I never thought I’d do in my life. Walk with a wild animal known for it’s viciousness? Sure, why not. The the beauty of travel is that it lets you let go of your fears, trust things you wouldn’t normally trust and challenge the comforts and fears you left at home. So, whether it’s an uncaged lion, a sky-high zipline, a snorkel trip to Sting Ray City (awesome place in the Cayman Islands), or a 100 mph vespa ride through the crazy bustling cities of Vietnam (scariest moment of my life probably), traveling can scare us, but our memories will be all the better from those fear-facing moments.
Yes, there are some downsides to traveling… but no matter where your travels take you, you will see things you’ve never seen before, experience things you never thought possible, and feel more alive than you ever have. Still sitting on your couch reading this? Get out and see the world!