It may seem glamorous, but it has its dark sides too.
Do you remember when we were walking through the rice fields of Sa Pa and sliding/falling in the mud? Or when the kids giggled the whole time clambering behind that waterfall in Banos? Or the sunsets on Koh Lanta?!!
Sigh… Such good, good times.
It is kind of “be careful what you wish for” isn’t it?
Knowing what we do now, I would go back to long-term travelling in a heart beat.
The element of slow travel, of exploration and our plan of no planning/go-where-the-day-takes-us suited us wholeheartedly. As a family we became wicked close. As a couple we were bonded in the desire to make this the best experience of our lives.
And man, was it ever.
But as I wistfully reminisced this morning about all the amazing experiences we had, the hubs reminded me that I was looking at our trip around the world through travel-coloured glasses.
Shit. Yes. I totally am.
I am in the trenches of my very first #NaNoWriMo experience. NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is the concept that you can write a novel in one month if you dedicate the time and energy to doing it. Your goal is to get to 50,000 words by the end of November and can enjoy a community of fellow writers who are talking, supporting and encouraging you through the process. It is way harder than I thought, an average word count required to be written daily in order to stay on task that is a bit daunting. Especially when you haven’t quite found the flow yet. I am writing about our trip and as I write I am deep in reflection mode, working on what nuggets should be pulled out to inspire others to do a similar adventure.
Travel is absolutely something special. Yet there are times that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We create this sunshine and roses ideal, but here are a few piece of reality that made me giggle today as we talked through those funny/not funny moments of our trip.
- I peed my pants at a World Heritage Site.
- Lauren threw up all over the bus station in Lima (as we left our backpacks entirely unmanned as we went to clean up the puke off of her, me and every piece of clothes we had on).
- Chris paid $30 for 3 apples in Vietnam. Sometimes currency conversions just don’t quite work out.
- Spencer went to the equator but really he just lied on the grass and didn’t move, our very first adventure and he had some kind of flu the whole way through.
- We got to an AirBnb in the middle of the night and there was zero, absolutely NO toilet paper. None. (Ha! You try and hold it!)
- We had headphones stolen off a bus in Bolivia.
- Having to choose meats that are hanging out in hot sun and vegetables in markets that have flies everywhere gives you a stronger sense of “Just deal”.
- We almost didn’t get on our flight to New Zealand because we didn’t have our visas to Australia sorted (an important note if ever you are going both places).
- Chris thought he might have died in Sri Lanka, I thought I was going to in Cambodia, Spencer was convinced he was in Ecuador. You will get sick at some point. It is what it is.
- There will be tight quarters. Claustrophobic level rooms or sharing of beds or kicking one out of bed.
- There is absolutely NO such thing as air-conditioning in developing countries at 40+ degrees. It is called a window. Just deal.
- We over paid for cabs/tuk tuks in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Thailand, Vietnam, Greece and Morocco. Shit happens. You can’t get upset. It just all works out in the wash.
- We watched corruption at its best in too many countries to count.
- We saw really hungry kids and families with nothing. It will make you desperate to want to fix it somehow and yet you will start to realize you can’t.
- We witnessed countless piles of garbage, plastic in the ocean, heart-hurting climate change.
- Every fish market will always smell bad.
- We fought in Napier, New Zealand and the kids were convinced we were going to get divorced. (We hardly ever fight, I was hangry and we were living in a close-quarter caravan for a month. It takes its toll).
We can laugh at it all now. Sure, we had some minor challenges along the way but it will never take away from meeting some of the most wonderful people in the world.
We used Booking.com and AirBnb a ton for our trip and as I look at the bad, the opposite is how amazing these hosts made our experiences throughout our travels. It was the people and mother nature that made our trip as special as it was, and I can’t tell you enough how much these folks make me smile.
Victor in Banos, Ecuador who painstakingly walked us through everything fun to do in Banos and organized zip-lining, white water rafting and cabs (& has the sweetest smile).
Giovanna in Mancora, Peru who was so welcoming and open to us adding days onto our stay, as well as coordinating pick ups in the middle of the night as we go off the bus.
Alfonso in La Serena, Chile who not only picked us up but helped us go shopping at the local grocery stores as soon as we arrived. Plus he spent time in Edmonton so he already knows how awesome Canada is.
Pamela in Puerto Natalas, Chile who introduced us to Matcha and chatted with us about entrepreneurship, femicide and explained all things Chile to us.
The crew at the Circus Hostel in Buenos Aires who took us local to learn to tango & helped us navigate the currency situation in BA.
Wasunt in Bangkok who gave us an epic back alley scavenger hunt to make Bangkok fun & interesting for the kids and Grandma.
Ruwan in Ahangama, Sri Lanka who (along with Kumara our tuk-tuk driver) went so far above & beyond in hosting us including being part of a 2nd birthday party, bringing oils when Chris was sick, going over to their family’s house for dinner and for taking me across hell’s half acre translating and trying to get my computer fixed (& also for teaching our son to drive a tuk-tuk!)
Harrison in Dubai who made us feel fancy as we arrived in Dubai and organized our trips where we needed.
Mohammed in Marrakesh who made countless arrangements for tours and meals and talked openly about being muslim and teaching us more about the Koran.
As I look back on what we did, I am forever grateful to the human connections we made. They were really the best part of travelling. They are what make me want to do more.
I love this post Jenn. You’re absolutely right. Travel has it’s fair share of tough times. We’ve dealt with food poisoning, terrible accommodations, and unscrupulous salespeople. But it’s always the good times that make the memories.You learn to laugh at the struggles because they often make the best stories. But it’s the little moments that stand out as something magical.
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