A Thought About Traveling

“Lucky you, that you can go traveling. You must have rich parents, hm?! I’m so jealous. Doing nothing for months on end, just chilling in the sun, while I have to work. You are so lucky. “

I bet everyone who has left his or her home country to go traveling for a while has heard this sentence before. And it probably annoyed them as much as it annoys me. Because even though traveling is great (otherwise we obviously wouldn’t do it right?), there are still some things involved that aren’t that much fun. But people who stay at home never really seem to understand it. So here are the 3 sentences that show most how traveling sometimes gets misunderstood. Because it isn’t just one big holiday.

  1. “Lucky you, that you can go traveling. You must have rich parents, hm?! I’m so jealous. Doing nothing for months on end, just chilling in the sun, while I have to work. You are so lucky. “

I don’t think there is another sentence in this world that gives me as much rage inside as this one. Everyone of us who is from one of the wealthy western countries can go traveling. Let me say that again: Everyone. Everyone from a westernized country with the possibility of a job that will earn you more than a few dollars a month can do exactly what most of us travellers did: Find a job, work and save. And it doesn’t matter if you work in a bank and earn thousands of euros a month or if you work in a bar and don’t earn as much – you just need to save. Don’t buy yourself new clothes, no new iPhone and don’t go out drinking every weekend – just save. And then, after a period of time, all the money you saved is enough to buy yourself a plane ticket and some months of traveling time. You see, you neither need rich parents nor the best paid job. All you need are 2 things: discipline – to save every penny you earn. And courage – to quit your job, to not listen to all the people who look at you strangely and think you should rather think about your career and to book that plane. And the beautiful thing is: Everyone of us could do it, if he or she really wanted to. So next time, when someone is going traveling – don’t tell that person he or she is so lucky and you are jealous of him or her. Just do it yourself.

  1. “You are on this big holiday, so what can you seriously complain about?”

Contrary to what people believe, going traveling for months on end isn’t identical to going on a two-week holiday. Going on holidays normally means sun, lying at the beach doing nothing, a nice hotel room, good food and drinks and no worrying about money. But this is definitely not what traveling looks like. Yeah, true, if you travel to hot countries, there will be a lot of sunshine and you most likely will have days of lying at the beach. But that’s it then. The reality of traveling looks more like this: Because most people want to travel as long as possible they have to make sure that their money doesn’t run out too fast. That means: Save wherever you can. Instead of going to expensive restaurants that sell western food you have to eat cheap lunch menus and streetfood. Which can be really good. And at other times really, really bad. Obviously you could cook but in a lot of countries supermarket prices are actually so expensive that eating on the street is cheaper. Another area where you can save money is the cost of your accommodation. Saving as much as possible means a 20-bed-dorm in a really bad hostel. And if you travel with your partner and you want to get a double room from time to time this means to 99% an empty, cold room with a bed and nothing else in there. So not really like being on a holiday is it?

  1. “Okay, so there are a few things that are not like on a holiday. But seriously, in the end of the day all you do is chill all day long or do other cool stuff – a pretty easy life I’d say.”

 Again, this is obviously true for some time of your travels. But apart from the things said above there are things you have to deal with while traveling that are not easy at all. There are things that exhaust you, make you feel alone and are harder than anyone would think. When you have to figure out your way around without speaking the language. When you try to find the right direction but people are being incapable of giving them and everyone is telling you a different way. With living out of a backpack for months on end. With wearing the same clothes (that never really get clean) every day. With moving places every couple of days. With being on local buses for hours on end without any space to move whatsoever. With people of the country you are in being slow with absolutely everything in life but then feel the need of rushing of buses like the devil is behind them. With getting shouted at from the locals without them caring if you understand them or not. With getting whistled at from the local guys without any respect. With getting to know people but then having to say goodbye again. With being on your own again and again. With getting sick and no one is there to care and make you feel better. With being homesick. With feeling like you are becoming more and more distant to your friends at home. With dirty and smelly bathrooms. With freezing cold showers. With sleeping in the most uncomfortable beds. With never having your own bed, your own bathroom, your own flat, with a place that is just yours. And all these little things that can really grind on you. Yeah, they are probably just small things. But if you have to deal with them every day over a long period of time, believe me they would annoy you too. And there are a lot of people I know that couldn’t deal with just a few of the things mentioned.

I hope, these few lines showed everyone out there, how traveling isn’t just one big holiday where you relax all day and have no sorrows in the world. And now, that this is said, let me say one more thing: Everyone out there – go traveling!!! Yes, you heard me right. Because even though there are all those things that can make your life hard from time to time, all those things that can really annoy you – they are nothing compared to the joys traveling brings you. To meet new, interesting people from all over the world every day. Understand how people live in different countries. Learn and understand new cultures. Learn new languages. See new places every day. See landscapes you never knew existed. See wonders of the world. Get to know yourself. Get to know your limits. See how strong you actually are. How you can cope with this world just by yourself. Follow your dreams. Do exactly what you want each and every day. Understand this world. Understand how blessed us people from the western countries actually are, that we have the opportunity to earn the money to travel and see this world. Understand that there is no reason for us to complain about our lives in our home countries. Understand what poverty actually means. Love the smile on the kids’ faces whose families are so poor and they still smile and play joyfully in the streets using a plastic bottle as a football. Understand that these kids and their families might not have any money but that this doesn’t make them poorer then we are. Explore this world. And understand it. Because if you don’t go and see it, there is no way how you can actually understand it. Because you need to see it with your own eyes. Believe me, there is nothing in this world that can make you understand this life more than traveling does.

And then, take your beach towel and a book and just sunbathe at the beach. You deserve it.

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