By , March 11, 2013 11:40 am

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret. Ready for it? OK…. most travellers don’t like to travel. There, I said it.

“What?!?!?” you’re thinking, “how can that be so? How can a traveller hate travelling?

Now first of all, I didn’t say “hate,” I said “don’t like.” Don’t put words in my mouth. There’s a difference. Second of all, it’s the truth. Most travellers I know dread travel days.

Travel days mean early morning flights; figuring out the best deal out of a hundred possibilities to get from Point A to Point B; booking hostels online at the last minute; dealing with cancelled ATM cards; searching the streets for a hospedaje that doesn’t have a weird, musty smell; sleeping in airports; countless hours of waiting; getting ripped off by money exchangers at the border; worrying about pickpockets; watching your possessions like a hawk; checking to see if you still have your bus/train/plane ticket; getting dropped off on the highway in the middle of who-knows-where; 12 hour bus rides; overnight buses without seats or with crying babies; grumpy border guards and customs officials; checking to see if your passport is still in your pocket where you left it 10 minutes ago; endless compromises (for couples, anyways); all-around sleep deprivation; self-induced dehydration so you don’t have to pee before the next rest stop; border scams; filthy public toilets; trusting strangers; transfers and connections; body and bag searches; unwanted marriage proposals; drunk men threatening you on buses; pushy taxi drivers who won’t take no for an answer; sore butts and stiff necks; checking again to make sure your passport is still there; standing in the back of a chicken bus with someone’s hand on your butt and your head tilted at an unnatural angle to keep it from banging against the roof at each bump; hanging on for dear life in the back of a pickup; buying tickets in a foreign language; navigating 7 km of city streets by foot in 40°C weather because you’re too frugal to pay for a cab, loaded down with your backpack and a poorly chosen daybag design that leaves your neck raw and your shoulders aching – all without a map, a working or even a basic knowledge of the local language, nor the exact address of your hostel (OK, maybe that last bit’s just us).

The reality is travel is stressful. When everything you own is in a bag under a bus, you worry about it. Not so much because you’re attached to the stuff, but because you really don’t want to have to fork over the cash to replace it. When all the control of the situation is taken from you (such as when you leave, if the bus shows up, if you actually have seats, when the bathroom breaks are, how secure the baggage area is, etc.), you are bound to end up a little frazzled.

Travelling as a couple, Mike and I quickly realized that travel days would be the most challenging for our relationship. The stress and challenges we encounter pretty much guarantee a fight. Every decision on our RTW journey – from where to go, how long to stay, what to see, what hotel to stay at, where to eat, which type of cheese to buy – is a compromise. Add to that the stress of the actual travel day and we’re bickering left and right.

So why, then, do we travel?

Trust me – we didn’t quit our jobs and sell our belongings to ride buses around the world.  We did it for the magic of arriving in a new city or country; the fun of checking out the lay of the land and exploring the streets; to get inspired; to take in the sights, smells, sounds, and quirks of different cultures; to experience the kindness of strangers; to taste new flavours; to make amazing new friends; to discover more about who we are; to experience everything that life has to offer; to find the beautiful and the good in the world.

These things are why we travel.

And they make all the other stuff worth going through.

21 Responses to “The Truth About Travellers”

  1. Deb says:

    Hey, I just wanted to pop by (again) to say how much I enjoy reading your blog entries. I love the stories you share, the stats and the information. You are an inspiration! Thank you for your honest view points. I’ve been following since you started your walk along the Camino (which I am planning to do in 2014) and now I enjoy following you around the earth…I also think you are going to end up with the most gorgeous private collection of photographs of your adventures. Thanks again…looking forward to more insights. Cheers, Deb (from Brisbane, Australia)

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      Thanks for stopping by deb, we never get tired of positive feedback. We don’t really keep too many photos private, non-actually. You can see all 10,000 of them by following the photo-album link at the top of this page.

      I’m actually kind of looking forward to editing up some of my favourite photos for printing one day… but there’s not a whole lot of point in doing it while we are on the road.

  2. Christoph says:

    You are so damn right Ashley! Keep on moving!

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      Actually, I feel like we’ve been moving a bit too much lately. Every once and a while we get carried away, and Thailand was one of those times. I think we’ve taken the night train between Bangkok and Suratthani 6 times already. Time to slow things down and stay put for a while.

  3. You guys had me biting my nails a bit there… good to hear you still absolutely love it though after almost 2 years of travel!

    Has all the “bad stuff” you mentioned happened to you guys personally?! You must have pretty good tactics for keeping calm!

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      It has all happened to us personally. Thankfully, not all at one time. Usually we just tend to get really grumpy with each other on travel days. Not really the best thing, but it always happens to one degree or another.

      But, we are getting better at keeping our heads. We just finished a 10 day silent meditation retreat, and it’s really helped put a lot of things into perspective. I don’t think we’ll be so stressed in the future, even when things are not ideal.

      • Practice makes perfect as “they” say so bet you manage infinitely better than at the beginning of your trip!

        The 10 day silent meditation retreat sounds like bliss (pardon the pun) after all that!

  4. David says:

    What a great comment. Having traveled through India, Southeast Asia, and China, I can relate completely with what you say!! AsI read your comments a I just had to smile remembering many incidents you describe.

    I would also like to comment that next Jan my wife and I of 31 years are starting our retirement by heading to Central America for 6 months, and we will be using your blog as a reference. Thanks a ton.

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      Enjoy retirement. I kind of feel like I’ve already started mine, though my bank account does seem to have trouble coming to grips with the permanence of the term retirement. Regardless, starting out in Central America was exactly how I started my break, and it was lovely.

      If you are going to spend some serious time in Central America, I can’t recommend strongly enough, that you should spend at least some time learning basic Spanish. Life is just better when you can speak to the people around you, and travel days are so much simpler.

  5. Yixin says:

    Hi Ashley, love this post! My husband and I call them the dreaded transit days. We accept that it is part of long term travel and we aim to not do anything on those days, but simply try to get from Point A to Point B without stressing ourselves out too much! Keep on trucking:)

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      That’s how we deal with it to. If we can arrive early in the morning, get to our hotel early, and do nothing much else for the rest of the day. We’re happy.

  6. Rhonda says:

    oh boy..you are right about that!!! The travel days are the days that make it a LIFESTYLE and not a vacation. To this day many friends refer to our 14mth rtw as a “vacation”,somehow comparing it to the pre-paid, pre-arranged all inclusive vacation they took to Cancun. WRONG, actually having to navigate in a new city/town/country is difficult and, in the end..quite tedious. But, that is what is necessary to find the magic in discovering a new place.

  7. Karen says:

    I so agree with you, I smiled when you said travel days pretty much guarantee a fight because I so understand! Glad to know we are normal with our arguing on transit days!

  8. Jutta says:

    Soooo true, glad to hear you are doing good. Sending lots of love your way

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      Right back at you. We’ve nearly lost track of you. Ashley keeps mentioning a letter she’s promised to send your way… Hopefully sooner rather than latter. I may just have to get a facebook account myself.

      • Jutta says:

        Yeah it´s been quite a while since i had word from you guys. Not much happening in my life right now, i´m back home and starting working in May, to make money to leave again as soon as i can. I haven´t been posting much on facebook though, so everyone kinda lost track of me.

        • Mike Lenzen says:

          Oh good, not the work bit, but the facebook bit. I’m sticking with my no facebook account stance then.

  9. [...] 1. The Truth About Travellers by Traveled Earth: Mike and Ashley describethe negative effects of travelling  in a very expressive way but why it is still worth travelling around the world [...]

  10. [...] 1. The Truth About Travellers by Traveled Earth: Mike and Ashley describethe negative effects of travelling  in a very expressive way but why it is still worth travelling around the world [...]

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