“How adventurous and exciting their life seems!” And how could you think anything else when all you see is the highlights of their adventures, the perfect pictures, the smiles and the new friends that they’ve made! And travel IS full of excitement and adventure, but what you don’t see if the hours of time spent at McDonald’s trying to find the next couch to surf on, best spot to hitchhike or cheapest bus ticket. You don’t see the moments when they’re lonely, and all they want to do is hop on the next plane home. There aren’t selfies of the the days without a shower, the cold nights spent outside when a hostel was too expensive and couch surfing didn’t work out. You didn’t see the hours spent holding a sign and failed hitchhiking. No one took pictures of the endless bread and apples that were the sustenance of food in countries where eating cost more than traveling. You miss the moments when they don’t want to be social and wish that they could hold someone’s hand just like the dozens of couples walking by. The days when your bank card doesn’t work and you don’t speak the language and your travelers charades isn’t good enough to communicate your desperate need to brush your teeth ( I thought it was straight forward). Or the moment when all you feel like doing is breaking down and crying because you messed up a ticket, and lost that hard-earned money into the oblivion that is foreign transportation.
These are the nitty gritty details of travel, or at least budget and innovative travel, (I can’t vouch for those who can afford to fly from one exciting place to another) these are what it takes to get to the tops of mountains, and the ends of the earth. These are the puzzle pieces that make up the incredible stories and this is where you find adventure and find “yourself”.
Being homesick teaches you that you can go home and you will(despite the moments when going home scares you more than Saigon traffic), and that those hugs upon return will be treasured even more. The longing for a hand to hold teaches you that as independent as you want to be, you seek the companionship of another just as God designed it. The hitchhiking and couch surfing teaches you to be resourceful and trust the goodness of people around you. It teaches you that simplicity can make the best friends and stories. The apples and bread makes you eternally grateful for any bite of food that cost more than one euro. And sleeping outside helps you remember the perfection of the stars, and how grateful you are to have a bed, even if it’s in a country a few thousands miles away. Missing a ferry or selecting the wrong day for a ticket teaches you that you need to slow down, and that no matter what happens, how dumb or big of a mistake you make, life will always go on. This hidden side of travel is what gives you the best stories, and is the part of traveling that reveals your heart and your dreams and your true self. So let’s embrace the nitty gritty and may your misadventures be plentiful for those may not be the best pictures, but they’re certainly the best stories. And boy do I have stories. (An empty airport picture of me unsure of where I’ll be sleeping, it’s okay, though we have wifi).