There are a few things to look out for when one decides to travel. I’m a big promoter of solo travelling, but it’s not all rainbows and lollipops (thanks, Aly, for the quote). Yes, it is an absolutely amazing time and experience, but certain things are always going to come up. Here’s a list of five (5) downsides to travelling alone.
Number One (1) – Loneliness
It happens to the best of us, whether we like it or not. And whether we are travelling or not. It’s a common thing to go through for everyone. And regardless of the fact that you’re staying in a hostel and surrounded by amazing people 24/7, the cold hard truth is that you’re going to get lonely at some point while travelling. Even though you are surrounded by intriguing events and gorgeous locales, loneliness and melancholy will inevitably rear their ugly heads.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, to be completely honest. It helps you to learn to live with your own company. Aly over at www.psychotraveller.com says it wonderfully in her video here. You need to learn to be your own best friend. After all, when everything is said and done, you have to live with yourself and rely on yourself for your own happiness.
When I left for Spain, I knew absolutely no one there. It took a while, after the new and shiny wore off, before I really started to feel alone. Perhaps that was one reason why I didn’t stay in Madrid too long, but instead found myself back on a train to Barcelona and semi-familiar surroundings. But everyone needs alone time. Myself, slightly more than others. And when you think about it, alone time and the occasional bout of loneliness isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Number Two (2) – Absence of Comfort
It can be extremely uncomfortable at times when you’re travelling all by your lonesome. And I don’t mean “I’m sleeping on a rock, this is so uncomfortable”, or “I’m so uncomfortably hot right now”. No, I mean more mentally uncomfortable. You’re going to be pushed into so many uncomfortable situations that you have no choice but to cope. And that coping can only make you grow as a person. It’ll push you out of your comfort zone, and once out of your own self restrictions you’ll realize that you can enjoy a lot of activities that you otherwise would steer clear of.
I’m not a very social person. In fact, the thought of large crowds of people generally intimidates me and I really don’t go out of my way to talk to people. Regardless of what some people would say, I am not a people person (which is odd, with my job as a bartender). But travelling leads someone to push the boundaries of their limitations. Not in a million years would I walk up to a table of people that I have never met and ask if I could join them while at home. But that’s exactly what I did in Barcelona and it didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Nor would I head off to a bar with others that I had just met. But I did when I was in London and Calgary (admittedly, Calgary is practically home). Maybe it’s the fact that I was staying in hostels and they are generally filled with friendly and like-minded people from all over the world. Or maybe I’m broadening my comfort zones.
Number Three (3) – Costs
There is ALWAYS a cost associated with everything. And regardless of what I, or anyone else may tell you, travelling ain’t cheap. There are a few things that you need to take into account when planning a trip, and one of those is budget. Most people don’t go on a trip and think about earning money while away. In fact, for a lot of people it is very hard to do. You have to make sure you have enough funds to support yourself for the duration of your trip. And as much or as little as you want to save will dictate what you can do and where you will stay.
Now, the above paragraph is a bit of a horror story. However, I can tell you that I would have spent more money staying at home then I did when I went to Spain. I’m not quite sure how that worked out (because that most definitely was not the case the first time I went to Europe), but it is the honest truth. There’s always ways to save money and cut back on spending. Uncommonly, I tend to spend less when I am away then I do at home. Perhaps I need to change my habits….
Number Four (4) – Homesickness
Regardless of where you go or how long you stay, you are going to get homesick. It’s just the absence of the familiar that gets you. You wind up in a different country, not able to speak the language or read the script, not knowing a single person, get lost and confused, and you start wondering why you went in the first place.
Maybe you’re there because of work. Maybe you’re there because a flight had to make an emergency landing. Maybe you’re there because of a personal reason. But whatever the reason, you are there. And you are undoubtedly going to have the time of your life! There is very little in life quite as magical as travelling. I promise you, you will not regret making the decision to pack a backpack and fly away somewhere.
Number Five (5) – Coming Home
Yes, I am listing this as a ‘downside’ of travelling. Seems odd, doesn’t it? Well, think of it like this: You built up your courage after your breakup. You saved and finally bought that plane ticket. The excitement courses through you and you’re finally off for your solo dream trip! But alas, things don’t go quite your way… You get stuck sleeping in a subway for starters. And then it starts to sink in that you don’t know anyone and all you want to do is go home to your friends and family. But you’ve spent hard earned money on this trip! You can’t go home now! So instead you go out of your shell.
Those people up at that table? You don’t know them, they don’t know you. Hell, you don’t know ANYONE here. Maybe they’re nice. You ask if you can sit with them.
“Sure! You’re more than welcome!” They say enthusiastically, an accent coulouring their words. “Where’re you from?”
“Canada, and yourselves?” (See? It wasn’t so bad talking to them, now was it?).
“Crikey, that’s a long way! We’re from Australia. I’ve always wanted to go to Canada.” And so on and so forth. All of a sudden you realize that you’re not so lonely after all and did something well out of your comfort zone. Congrats!!
And then, before you know it, it’s time to go home. Maybe a month wasn’t enough time after all. Maybe you don’t want to go home. But the flight is already booked and you’re set to return to work again. Back to reality and the constant grind that you were in in the first place. When at home you’ll constantly refer to your trip. It’ll be a great conversation starter and people will be genuinely interested. I mean, you’ve done something that they’ve always wanted to do but have never built up the courage. But eventually they’ll stop caring about your stories. They won’t want to hear about them anymore. I mean, it’s all you talk about. And so you sink into a melancholy mood and stare longingly at the pictures that you took and have to live through the constant droll of everyday life until you can go away again. And that melancholy that you get is definitely a downside in my opinion. But don’t worry, there is a cure! You just have to travel again.
And there you have it! Those are my five downsides to travelling. The main point is that there isn’t quite anything like travelling. It changes you for the better in my most humble of opinions. It broadens your understanding of the world, places, cultures, and people. You learn so much more by experiencing things first hand than you ever would reading about someone else’s experiences in a book. Or by watching a television show on someone else roaming around. Or listening to your friend’s amazing travel stories. Go out and find your own story.
Agree or disagree with anything I’ve written above? Feel free to leave a comment down below if I’ve missed something!