Exploring the world is an incredible experience, just keep in mind that no one talks about the ways in which becoming a traveller can ruin you. (Although I may be exaggerating a little bit)
On my last day in Europe, you had to practically drag me to the airport and hope that I would actually get on the plane and not sporadically buy a ticket back to London and stay there. In that moment, the nostalgia of everything that I had seen and experienced was just too much, and the five weeks I spent travelling seemed magical. It wouldn’t hit me until three weeks after my return home that nostalgia makes you remember things very differently, and that while I felt mostly fulfilled and content on my trip, I also felt a small yet deep void that today, makes me see things a lot clearer than I did while I was in the holiday bubble.
As a wide-eyed, adventure seeking teenager, planning a trip to Europe with my friend seemed like a dream that was too good to be true. When that dream, however, became a reality, things quickly turned into a nightmare, one that I ignored as much as possible until it figuratively kept me awake at night.
All I wanted to do was gain some independence and excitement away from my complacent life. Instead, my time away made me disillusioned and dissatisfied with how things turned out, both before, during, and after the trip.
The concept of visiting a new country every day, travelling alongside people you don’t know, and experiencing new things seems exciting, but the reality is that the theory is great, but your enjoyment lies within the execution.
Travelling takes a lot out of you, emotionally, physically, and financially. If your circumstances are anything like mine, and you are a student with a casual job, then the lead up to your trip is a long year of working 40 plus hours a week and balancing uni work on top of that. Social life? Forget about it, you’ll have plenty of time to socialise once you get on that plane and your trip begins.
Meanwhile you go about your life avoiding unnecessary expenses like petrol, car insurance and your phone bill, because you can definitely walk an hour and a half to get to work and if you’re doing all that walking then what is the point of car insurance? God forbid your poor soul has to pay rent, but if thats the case, surely your friends wont mind you couch surfing for a little bit, will they?
Your mind set pre-travel can become unrealistic, all because you have a goal and a hope that your time away will be the most life changing experience that you can imagine.
Investing in a holiday at a young age can be both the best and worst thing you can do for yourself financially. The sacrifices you make to achieve the trip can make you forget what is really important; for example, I made work a priority and uni seemed like an unnecessary burden. Then, upon your return home, while you’re walking through duty free and buy that $70 bottle of vodka that you usually find for $90, you realise that you’ve only got $150 left to your name, which is more than what you thought you’d have left, but the reality that you have to go back to work and make up the money you spent hits you, and that’s literally the worst way to come down from a holiday-high.
Some would argue that all the hard work that goes into travelling is worth it when you look back and see all of the amazing friendships you forged or strengthened throughout your journey. Whilst this is a valid argument, and definitely something that you hope for when travelling, what travellers forget to mention is the downside to this social aspect. What if you decide to travel with a friend and when you get home you never speak again? Was the trip worth losing your friendship or was it just the universe’s ridiculously expensive and elaborate way of telling you that your friendship wasn’t made to last?
Of course, that doesn’t happen to everyone, and it’s not an ideal nor a foreseeable outcome, but nevertheless should it happen to you, it will affect you.
On top of that, while you’re busy exploring the world, your friends back home don’t just stand still in time and wait for you to return. Life continues for them too, and if you’re gone for long enough, there’s always a possibility that you might not fit back into their lives. Sounds extreme, I know, but it happens. Hopefully you also have other friends who, like mine, welcome you home with open arms and plans to make up for lost time.
While on the topic of friendships, travelling can also introduce you to people who you can see will be life long friends. This can also ruin you because the chances are that you live 24 hours away from them and have to up keep the friendship by liking each other’s photos on Facebook, and quick messages outlining how your life has been in the past month since you last spoke.
Finally, travelling has this amazing effect on you, which opens your mind to new cultures, people and experiences; so much so that when you return home from a trip, adjusting back to every day life is a real challenge. When you get home, you can feel underwhelmed by everything, and the simple things that used to entertain you, such as going to your local shopping centre or walking to the closest park, are pointless activities that you can no longer tolerate. In those moments it feels like you are so open minded that you’re too good for the life you used to live. You become so accustomed to being amazed by new things and achieving so much in a day that you no longer feel satisfied when you come home. Post travel depression is real and it makes you question everything in your life for the first month or so since your return home. (I even wrote a whole post on it if you want to check it out)
Travelling is easily one of the most life changing experiences that someone can actively seek out, but just be prepared to never want to come home again, and feel ridiculously conflicted when you do.