The Hard Parts of Travel
There is another side to travel beyond the perfect selfie in a beautiful destination.
A lot of travel bloggers out there, myself included, paint a very romantic picture of travel. Seeing the world, eating unfamiliar food, meeting exciting new people, and taking a selfie in every country are the glorified parts of travel - and for good reason. Travel can be very romantic. But, there is a side to travel that can leave you feeling rough about yourself, the world, and life in general. The hard parts of travel are my favorite once I get on the other side of them and can have a laugh or a new perspective. They allow you to appreciate the good times that much more, and make the travel experience in its entirety a valuable life lesson.
Do not expect what you get at home anywhere else.
Every country has experienced contrasting histories, leaving their people as a reminder of the good and the bad. Like anywhere, some people become bitter or resentful to their government and to the world. Don't expect people to always be kind to you as a tourist everywhere you visit. I've said in my previous blog, Lessons From a Solo Traveler, that people are mostly good - and I meant it with all of my heart. But, not everyone cares to get to know you or even be polite when you're ordering food from them. I try to remember that I am naive to their history and personal life, and whatever battle has left them feeling sullen I should only return with kindness.
In certain cities I notice people staring at me as I walk past them down the street - and not in an amused way. I'll smile at people and some turn away in dislike. I have an alternative style with many tattoos, and there are still some conservative countries who frown upon it. I never thought I'd feel self-conscious about my tattoos until I traveled. Fine Mom and Dad, you were right. However, it's humbling to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. It's a healthy reminder that the world never has, nor ever will, revolve solely around you.
People may appear to be prettier than you, but that doesn't make you any less pretty.
My time in Scandinavia was hard on my self-esteem. I've never seen so many beautiful people in one place. All of the men and women towered over me since I stand at a whopping 5 feet. Their essence bleeds confidence, and if you ever go there you'll see why. In general, European women tend to be comfortable in their own bodies. I've begun to wonder if being from America and growing up with our twisted ideals on beauty left me thinking that I should always be comparing myself to other women. But I notice these women don't appear to do that. They walk with grace, flaunt their own style, and are generally charming and polite. The lesson isn't that this girl or that girl is prettier than me, but that I need to be fully who I am and do it with poise. Women who are assured of themselves are the most beautiful because they believe they are.
A country may leave a bad taste in your mouth - get over it.
There are some countries where a bad experience happened. Bottom line - it isn't the countries fault. One or even a few negative encounters with people should not represent the country as a whole - and that's true of anywhere. My phone has been stolen while traveling, I've missed trains, I've booked flights in the wrong month, I've been yelled at, I've been stared at, and I've cried. Navigating a whole month of travel without a phone wasn't easy, but at the end of it all I collected a lot of maps that I was forced to learn how to read. It's all perspective!
I recently spent my travels in a couple cities within Romania. I was exhausted from the experience - not to say it was a bad experience but I was ready to leave by the end of it. Our Uber driver couldn't find us, so we walked down the road in the intense heat to hail a cab to the airport. The cab driver gave us a reasonable quote so we hopped in and held on for dear life - these were the wildest cab rides of my life . Out of nowhere he pulled over and said, "One minute!" We were confused as to what was happening, but after a moment he came out of the store with 3 bottles of juice in his hand. It was so hot he needed a drink and was kind enough to grab my friend and me one. It literally warmed my heart and restored my attitude towards my entire stay there. We drank our juice and listened to Taylor Swift with the windows down, and that became my fondest cab ride experience to date. (It was also my most basic, stereotypical girl moment to date!)
Those are the moments that make traveling what it is for me and why I continually make it a part of my life. If you chase your dreams, I promise you will catch up to them.
I've happily made it to London, England and will be wrapping up in Holland and Iceland, so stay tuned for my next blog! Cheers.