The Unglamorous Side of Traveling

I grab my phone looking to see who I can text to join my pity party I am having right now, but realize there is no one because it is 5 in the morning in Texas on Labor Day weekend. I have been wanting to do this post for some time now but have not found the right time. But with no where else to turn my thoughts to right now, today seems to be the most fitting. I want to ask that you read this blog with an open mind. Try not to cast judgment on how “I should feel” or any of your own opinions. I want to ask that you read this and put yourself in my shoes to the best of your capability. I want to write about what most backpackers don’t. I want to shed light on what the really really shitty days look like, some of the none “instagram worthy” pictures, how nasty traveling can be, how lonely it can feel, the pressure I have, the things that I miss, the good, bad and ugly and so on. AND before you say, “You are traveling the world, how can you be so selfish to complain” I go back to my first request, be patient and hear me out.

LONELY

I have been very strong, I would say, since the day Bradley dropped me off at the airport to continue my travels in SE Asia. But to dive right in, being in a long distance relationship sucks. People who have to do this because of military, work, etc do not get enough credit. Not being able to even see Bradley on an occasional weekend really stinks. There are many great things about the distance too that we try and focus on. We both get to grow independently, distance makes the heart grow fonder, it is a great building block for a healthy independent relationship and so on. But it doesn’t take the pain away. There is no way of saying “only 58 more days!!!” that really is satisfying. As far as my friends go, that is another thing that is so difficult. My phone number is changing every couple weeks, it’s hard to keep up, a chunk of them still haven’t figured out the time difference and I find myself reaching out to them more than the other way around. I do not say that like I am upset. To them, and to everyone, I am having the time of my life. I am so busy. There is a big time difference, etc. And for the most part that is true. But it makes it difficult keeping my “social” life up to date when I am on the other side of the world. I know everyone loves me and no distance can change that, but again, doesn’t make it easy. Then you add the time difference in itself. As I mentioned first, there are times when I really want to be consoled by my friends and family, but I also do not want to call someone at 5am for a pity party, understandably. Being 12 hours ahead only gives you about an 8-10 time slot at nights or weekends.

PRESSURE

I remember when I first started in Nicaragua I posted on my FB asking for a Netflix solution. So many people gave me shit about it. I immediately felt like sitting inside on a Tuesday to “Netflix and Chill” was horrible of me. My friend Sketch looked at me and said the most corny line, but it is so true, “You have to have rainy days to appreciate the sunny ones”. The first part of my travels I partied hard, did the hostels, talked to 1,000 strangers and made many friends. I felt a sense of guilt for not indulging on that this part of the trip. I have become quite over the small talk conversations. The same stories. Talking with people who are just trying to have a pissing contest on who is the most traveled. I am MOSTLY over talking about Trump. EVERYONE and I mean EVERY.ONE. wants to talk about it. Then you add “I am from Texas” to the mix and I am over here googling gun statistics because they are looking at me for an answer to our gun problems. Also, people do not like Americans. They truly stereotype me as dumb and ignorant. It becomes exhausting defending myself, my country and Texas. Yall, this is seriously almost every group of people I meet. So on top of feeling guilty for not wanting to be a tourist for a day, and not wanting to be social, I feel a sense of guilt for not going out as much. I have mentioned before in previous posts that this part of the trip I really wanted to focus on self growth and as a result of that my interest of going to the clubs is not active; but I still feel like I am supposed to be doing that. That I should go meet a group of people out for drinks. But I just do not want to. I have to remind myself that this is my way of life. I have been traveling for about 8-9 months now. It is okay to have those “rainy” days whenever I want and however many times I want them. It is okay to be anti social when I want to be. It is okay to not go out with everyone when I don’t want to.

INSTA WORTHY

This is something that I have to work on. I enjoy taking pictures, I have just as many selfies in my phone as the next 16 year old girl (well maybe not AS MANY), but I get caught up in trying to get the “Insta worthy” picture all the time. I have been challenging myself to only allot 5 minutes to go around and capture pictures and then the rest of the time put my phone away and take in as many mental images as I can. I am most definitely photo shopping some of the images to make the water bluer, sharpen the images and so forth. Honestly, I am okay with it. I think taking nice photos is an art. BUT let me set the record that there are a lot of beaches that are packed with tourists, sometimes you can make a picture prettier than in real life and there were 543 pictures of the same pose until I got the right one. Most of the Facebook travel videos that go viral is NOT what it actually looks like. So please keep that in mind. There is always much more to a picture than what you always see.

NASTY

I can’t and won’t share the details of every nasty thing I have done or experienced because of traveling but there are a lot. I have had to pee squatting over a hole in the ground MANY MANY times because that is the common toilet in more rural areas. There is NEVER any toilet paper so that means if you forget to carry any in your wallet you are literally shit out of luck. People spit luggies in the sink, streets, pools, sidewalks, inside buildings, at dinner, just about anywhere they please. I took a shower this morning in a shared bathroom standing next to the toilet and urinal because it is a “3 in 1” if you will. The cleanliness standards of restaurants is NOT for the faint of heart. You cannot flush toilet paper, EVER. So you can imagine the build up in trash cans. You walk in the streets and the dirty “street juice” slops all over your legs. If you get a cut you can 100% guarantee it will be infected. You sweat so much that I will go spend money somewhere that is offering A/C just so I can stop from sweating for a few minutes. Lastly, yes, there are places in Asia that eat dogs.

WHAT I MISS

Hot water, A/C, clothes options, clean clothes, toilet paper, flushing toilet paper, phones that work all the time, privacy, my own bed, bug free rooms, no politics, being able to buy tampons (hard to find in many countries), Uber, baths, my family, my friends, my boyfreind.

 

I texted my friend Sketch and asked him to send me some of the “unflattering” none Insta worthy pictures he had of me from our month together in Nicaragua for some comic relief. I really do want to be clear that I am forever grateful for this opportunity. I am beyond humbled and blessed for my experiences. It blows my mind how many people admire me, how many people I have been able to change their lives, the lessons I am learning that I will take with me forever. And there has never been a bad enough day that has made this not all worth it. I think that the number one reason why I wanted to share this is because I like to keep shit real. No you probably won’t find me posting an unflattering picture of myself in a bikini on my instagram (all about balance hahaha) But in all seriousness I know that there are many readers and friends, family, and acquaintances that look up to me. I just want to let that person know that it isn’t always the amazing things I post. Every single person has a wonderful life and we all have things that are challenging. Much love to everyone. And thank you everyone who helps continue to motivate me and stay positive when I least feel like it.

Xoxoxo

Rachel

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13 thoughts on “The Unglamorous Side of Traveling

  1. Love this post most of all. It is so refreshing (in this day and age) to hear anyone speak words of truth especially when it’s not so pretty.

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  2. WOW…..there it is….the part that makes me NOT so jelly of your ADVENTUROUS SELF!! ❤ ya!! and these are the WORST pics??? YOU ARE BE-YOU-TIFUL!!!!!!

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  3. Thank you so much for this look at the other side of traveling. I really enjoyed looking at pictures of your feet because the last time I saw them close up like that, they had just had surgery. I am thinking about traveling sometime, and really need to know about the other side. So glad you have a brighter side to mostly share and you can call me anytime, even 5am. Love you and stay safe.

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  4. For a young girl growing up in North Plano, I would say that you have certainly experienced how others live their life and how they view the world. North Plano, as an example (and really most of the US) does not really understand what the rest of the people on the planet experience. We as a country are rich. That also can have its drawbacks. Rachel, each of these experiences makes you that much more aware and therefore sympathetic to your surroundings. That is one of the greatest gifts and blessings from God!

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  5. I’m with your mom, this is your best post. This is hard and too it’s why most can’t do it. Loneliness has to be the hardest but you already figured out, the quietness is required to grow within. Thank you for sharing, for keeping it real. I’m sending love.

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  6. I really loved this post Rach! This completely puts everything in perspective for all of us and is a reminder of how proud we all are of what you are doing. I know it’s not easy at times but each of these encounters only make you a stronger person! Can’t wait to hear more about your travels to Asia. Also, why didn’t you tell your readers what songs you were listening to?

    Love you!

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    1. Hahaha I wasn’t listening to anything in that one! But you had a few shout outs in my last two blogs for music. And thank you for your sweet comment. I appreciate you saying that. Means a lot to me!!! I love you

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  7. Hi Baby!! Not sure if i am doing this right..ll
    You know me i dont get on social media.
    I love you… i know you will look back on this adventure and and wow..you did all this ..by your self..you rock..
    You will so much have a greater love for your family friends and your life.
    You can call anytime…no time zones here..lol..be safe.

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  8. Such a great and honest blog post Rach!

    It’s easy for all of us to think we have it so bad here but this is a good reminder that we are so fortunate to have what we do.

    You have got some thick skin and your travels have only made you more independent! Can’t wait to hear more about your recent SE Asia travels in November 🙂

    Love you

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