I love reading travel blogs and scrolling through stunning Instagram feeds, but sometimes it’s just too much. Everything is great out there in travel blogger land. Long term travel is easy, money is plentiful, and worries are nowhere to be found.
I know that’s part of the appeal, and what keeps us coming back to our favorite travel blogs. The inspiration for new destinations, sure, but also the escape from our own reality, with work, stress, and messy apartments.
I’m definitely guilty of this as well. When I write up a review for a city I choose only my best snaps, edit them to perfection, and then conveniently omit the ugliest parts of my trip.
I’ll tell you that I was my phone was stolen in Bogota, but not that I also burst into tears when it happened. I’ll definitely mention that our four days in Jardin were amazing, but I’ll probably leave out we were eating street food because we ran out of money, and not because we love fried empanadas and sketchy street meats.
Travel blogging is definitely a fine line between presenting reality and also making it look more beautiful and just, better than it actually is.
Here is my 100% honest article on anything I’ve omitted in the past in my posts. The harsh truth about long term travel that no one ever shows…
Oh, ya know, just exploring somewhere new with NO IDEA that someone is taking a picture of me!
1. I Have No Friends
Seriously. I think you probably take for granted just how often you meet up with your friends and how much time you spend with them.
Every weekend, without fail, it’s just me and Daniel out to dinner, or for drinks, or at an event. Sure you can go to meetups but let’s be honest… small talk sucks, and you’re not going to become very close with someone in a month or two before you move on to the next city.
No one can compare to the friends and family you grew up with. Long term travel means going months without hanging out with anyone except my husband, which definitely gets old no matter how much we love each other.
2. I Have No Nice Things… Or Things At All
OMG like it’s s0o0 adventurous to sell everything you own and travel the world. Right? That’s what all the blogs tell me at least.
I don’t own anything, and it’s not that great.
Maybe, if I had had some stuff to sell before I left, it would have worked out a little better, but honestly owning nothing can get old fast. Just finding a book in English so I don’t have to spend another night staring at my laptop for entertainment can be a week long affair. Then, I have to finish it fast and find someone to give it away to, cause I don’t have room in my bag to take it on my next move.
Just having comfortable furniture would be so nice. Coming home and collapsing into my own couch or having a throw blanket to wrap up in is like my go to fantasy now. While traveling, I rent furnished apartments and let me tell you the pickings are slim. They’re always sparsely furnished with a crappy couch (if that) and a TV if I’m lucky.
Right now, my apartment has the sketchiest suicide shower of all time and I’ve literally been showering with a bucket instead because I don’t want to die.
I just want to own some things. Any things would be nice.
3. Speaking Another Language Constantly Isn’t Fun
Ok, it was fun for a few days. But after that, it’s just exhausting.
Practicing what you’re going to say in your head before every order or interaction and then still being stared at with a confused look because you totally butchered the accent is frustrating.
Better hope you don’t need medicine or to see a doctor! Good luck looking up and preparing that speech for the pharmacist to figure out what you need. Museums and tours are pretty pointless too because I have no clue what’s written on all the signs or being said, rapidly, by my guide.
My Spanish has improved immensely, which is great, but sometimes I really, really, just want to speak in English for a bit.
4. Vacations Become Work
I (obviously) love to travel and do it as often as I can. I love to see new things and try new foods. But when you have a travel blog the best part of traveling (being on vacation) gets taken away. It becomes work.
I mean it’s an awesome job, but I can still recount many different times where Daniel was exasperated and rolling his eyes when I stopped him for “just one more picture.”
Spoiler alert: it’s never just one more.
Even when I was able to spend a weekend in the sponsored luxury stays, I still had to spend the morning waiting for the clouds to clear or the light to be just right to snap a pic, rather than just lounging by the pool doing nothing which I really wanted to do. I’m also constantly writing down names of restaurants that I liked, prices for tours that we do or pass in the streets, or bus timetables so I can pass that info along to my readers.
Don’t get me wrong, long term travel is still amazing and I wouldn’t trade the amount I get to do for the world. All I’m saying is, a lot of my weekend trips are pretty different and definitely less relaxing than an annual vacation to an all inclusive resort.
This lil’ vid didn’t fit into any of my other posts so here ya go. How cute are these baby alpacas?!
5. I Can’t Protect Myself
Our horrible landlord in Colombia stole $700 from us.
In the United States, that’s annoying but not really a big deal. You can just file a suit in small claims court and spend an hour in front of a judge to get your money back. In a foreign country, that thought it laughable. No one cares, and no one is going to help you.
On top of that, it’s honestly my greatest irrational fear in life to be locked up abroad. Really, my word here and my rights are so much weaker than they are in the US as a United States citizen. I guess this problem is more of my own mental issue than anything else, but at least in the US if you get arrested you can post bail, have a fair trial, and won’t disappear without a trace. In some other countries, I’m not so sure…
6. I Can’t Have Hobbies
Most hobbies require things, and I don’t have those.
I like knitting, but I can’t find a yarn store here or figure out what I need in Spanish. I would love to have a small garden, but we’re constantly moving and living in apartments. I love to cook, and want to learn how to make Indian dishes, but there’s no way I’m investing in all those spices just to leave them behind when I go to the next city or country.
Most of all, I want a dog so badly!
The dog fever is real in this household but it will remain uncured because we can’t afford the threat of vet bills or the cost to fly our furry pal along with us on our adventures.
I guess what I’m saying is that if your life includes long term, it’s not going to include much else.
7. I Miss My Favorite Foods
You know how you go on vacation for a week and it’s so fun to try all the new foods the country has to offer? Then 10 days in, you’re already ready to hit up a McDonald’s in the airport on the way home? Yeah, multiply that feeling by about 1,000.
I miss American foods. And not just my favorite restaurants. I miss living in a country where groceries are so easily accessible. I’ve wanted tacos for months but I can’t find sour cream or shredded cheese here, and I don’t trust the ground beef in the market by my home. So, I guess it’ll be three more months before my craving is satisfied.
In the US, you can pretty much eat any food at any time. I miss it. Tater tots, brats, corn chips that aren’t $8 a bag, craft beer, the list could go on.
The Truth Is, There are Downsides to Long Term Travel
Well, there you have it.
My seven harsh truths about long term travel.
I love what I do, I love seeing the world, and I love blogging about our adventures as I go. However, it’s not all fine and dandy on this side of the laptop, I promise. There are amazing aspects to buying a house, having a steady nine to five job, and living in your home country that I definitely miss out on every day!
The grass is always greener right? I guess we just have to choose what makes us the happiest most of the time and roll with the punches when we’re not.
And if you’re reading this in the US, please go enjoy a Chipotle burrito for me! Mmm.
This is part six in a six-part Digital Nomad Series. Read the rest below!
7 Harsh Truths About Long Term Travel [Part 6 – you are here]