I Don’t Like Travel

Bet you didn’t expect that one. I travel a lot and I have plans to do so next year too… I just had to get this off my chest.

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Tiger Cave Temple, Thailand

Every time I get back on the road I wonder if I even like travel.

I don’t really feel that excitement before a trip anymore.

The thought of packing my bag, pre-charging my electrical items and wiping my camera equipment, before jumping on the road for the un-productive hours of travel ahead of me, fills me with some kind of dread.

I arrive to my destination (usually a new place) after a long, tiring journey (because obviously I chose the cheapest and longest way to get there). Next, I have to navigate myself to my accommodation.

In-country travel is not always intuitive and is made more complicated by a language barrier. When all you want to do is crash in a bed because your brain is numb with tiredness, this isn’t the most fun navigational challenge in the world.

And, wait, oh damn, I forgot to download ‘offline maps’… what a rookie error.

Early on into my trip, my mind is constantly fixated on the costs of everything. But I also feel a pressure to do everything.

And, finally, the loneliness hits.

It’s at this point where I’m gonna sink or swim.

And I guess the reason why I continue travelling is because I end up swimming.

Recently, I realised that it’s these challenges that truly make travel for me. Despite not enjoying every moment every second of the day, there are plenty of small moments that make my time abroad. But there’s also pride in overcoming the challenges.

Being completely out of my comfort zone with just a backpack full of stuff to aid me is incredibly scary, and yet at the same time it is thoroughly freeing.

I like to go all in because you never quite know what will happen.

I remember my first real solo/backpacking trip abroad; I travelled to Honduras to carry out research for my university dissertation. 6 weeks of scuba diving on a coral reef sounded pretty cool but I had no idea if I even liked scuba diving. I also knew no-one on the expedition.

The first week on that trip was probably one of the lowest lows that I have ever experienced in my entire life.

Halfway through learning to scuba dive I started having nightmares about it. I then got sick with a cold (so I wasn’t able to dive for a week). My stomach was slightly dodgy from the food that we were given (and I didn’t have much of an appetite for refried beans, if I’m honest). I also felt alone; I didn’t know anyone so I didn’t feel that there was someone I could open up to.

You know what I did a few days in? I rang my parents to tell them how I felt (and I cried a fair amount whilst on the phone).

Something that my parents do is they always remind me that I am welcome to come back home. ‘There is a way out’, they tell me… should I wish to take it.

I have never taken this get-out clause; it bats me the opposite way to a home run. It reassures me and helps me to push through, despite the challenges because I know that if it all gets too much, there is another option. I am incredibly lucky to have this feeling that home is only one small (but likely expensive) flight away.

So, I of course decided to keep going on this Honduras trip, taking each day one step at a time.

1 week into my Honduras trip and I started feeling better. I’m sure that an alcohol-induced night-out of socialising helped break down my barriers a little.

2 weeks in I had completed my PADI open water course and on that first fun dive I discovered a deep love for diving (whilst we were soaring alongside a couple Spotted Eagle Rays, no less). My nightmares of drowning left me and were replaced with a keen-ness to dive as much as possible.

6 weeks in and I didn’t want to leave. I had made friends. I was thoroughly enjoying each day (especially when I could double my dive time). I even started to eat a small amount of re-fried beans (only in the national dish of baleadas).

No matter how much I travel I am sure I am going to keep encountering this feeling of being out of my depth and out of place.

It’s a feeling that can only be made better. A feeling that puts life into perspective and forces me to be in the present. A feeling that can be remedied by a simple chat with a stranger in a hostel, or a cheeky beer watching sunset.

Sometimes I think we believe that we have to love every part of something in order to be passionate about it. We feel that we can only love something if we love every aspect of it.

But in reality, there’s always going to be something that we don’t like about something we love (more often than not). Adapting to new circumstances and situations will always bring with it difficulties and lows. Occasionally we might hit a wall where we question our life and wonder why we’re even doing what we’re doing. Or maybe we’ll do that thing too much and end up getting burnt out!

Sometimes, I don’t like travel… but most of the time, I do.

And I’m actually looking forward to what 2020 might bring in my travelling life. I have no doubt that the highs will mix with the lows, but I’ll do my best to ride those waves.

See you somewhere in the world someday!

Whilst writing this I was reminded of a quote from a book that my cousin recommended to me:

“You can’t have light without darkness” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh (No Mud, No Lotus)

Thanks for reading! Check out my personal travel blog, Creatively Adventurous, for more tips and adventures from my times abroad.

I write about my curiosities and experiences. My background is in Biology (Oxford Uni) and scuba diving. Subscribe: creativelyadventurous.substack.com

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