People post only the good things on the social media, but I think, that especially for long term travellers, it seems a bit strange that people never post anything bad or sad thats happening. Apparently no one is ever homesick or sick at all? Nothing ever goes wrong and of course they always have good food? Please.
That’s why I want to share a few of my stories about the bad things about traveling, being a backpacker and going on a working holiday.
7. Being scared
In the amazon basin in Bolivia, I was called “drama queen” because at signs of spiders (which are really big out there and dangerous too) I started screaming. More because I got frightened by them as opposed to actual fear. The hard thing is when in situations like that, I can’t control my voice, I was scared / shocked. The tour guide was pretty annoyed by me and the day we went into the swamps to look for huge anacondas, he almost didn’t let me come.
Then, there were crocs, snakes, lots of insects, piranhas and a fair amount of other things. Of course I was scared by pretty much everything. I did have fun and on the last day, unexpectedly, caught 3 fish while the “brave people” were scared as because of a huge spider. (I’m really happy I didn’t see that spider).
6. Not speaking the language
It’s actually pretty difficult coming into a country and not speaking the language. In South America most of the locals never learned English, or any other language than Spanish ( Portuguese Brasil). The problem is, that every country and every region has their own dialect. So if you’ve never learned to speak Spanish before you came to South America, then it’s rather difficult to learn on the street like I did.
Although I did get by ok. I was in the wrong bus only once. And I always got where I wanted to go, whether it was my skills or google translate, that’s a story for another day.
Street food is so much cheaper than going in an actual restaurant. It’s pretty much the same, but only there is no water and you basically have to eat on the street. They don’t handle money and food the way I’m used to and it is pretty much pretty dirty. Touching the sausage you will eat in about 2 minutes with the same unwashed hand they take your money.
After 3 weeks of diarrhea and a lot of different pills, I went to the doctor ( in Australia in sick you may be eligible for medicare). I couldn’t eat without having a toilet close by. The doctor sent me to the hospital for some blood and poop tests (yeah, that is not how you think your backpacker travels would be like, but what can you do?). After a few hours sleeping in a hospital bed (which of course I’m paying for), I got my results which said: You’ve got parasites.
Yeah, that wasn’t what I was expecting. So I went to the pharmacy, got an antibiotic and was hoping to get better soon.
4. Altitude sickness
As I spent a lot of time in Bolivia, most of Bolivia is at over 2500 to 4000 meters above sea level. I’ve never thought that would affect me. But at 2700 meters above sea level, it did.
My legs and arms were getting numb, I couldn’t get enough oxygen and I felt dizzy. That was the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had until then.
I thought I could get rid of it if I would have a few drinks. I was wrong. That actually made it worse. I couldn’t even walk the 10 steps up to the toilet without needing to make a 10 minute break to catch my breath.
After a few days I figured that coca leaf tea helps a lot. Unfortunately I didn’t know that it’s full of caffeine and therefore I couldn’t sleep anymore.
3. Being totally lost without internet
Being on a bus for more than 2 days, no proper food and barely any sleep, I arrived at my destination. It was hot and humid and I was wearing way too many layers of clothes, because it was cold on the buses.
Usually I booked my hostels in advance. This time though, I thought I’ve been traveling for so long already and lots of other people don’t book their stuff either, so I can do it for sure.
That was the biggest fail of the year. As I said, tired and hungry and hot I arrived and actually had no clue where to go. I haven’t had the currency of that country yet, so I actually had to walk from the bus station to town. Only 5 kmls, but they took much longer than I expected. After a while I arrived in the centre and saw a fast food restaurant which always had free wifi.
The restaurant was closed and there was no wifi anywhere. I started crying on the street, loaded with my backpack and sweat pants at 35degrees. I wanned to go home and never travel again. It was a testing time.
After another longish walk around town I’ve decided to have a coffee and some food. Eventually I found a hostel in my guide book which was only 8 blocks away and luckily, they had a bed for me.
2. Your Body will change
Traveling can keep you away from the regular. You may have done a lot of sports or exercises back home, but as soon as you’re abroad, you don’t have time for that anymore. You find yourself doing sightseeing and being social.
I always wanned to do something. But either the weather wasn’t good enough, or I was going on a trip, or I was hangover.
Some people gain weight, others lose it, some don’t change at all. I of course tried the local fruits and gained quite a lot.
1. Saying good bye
You meet a lot of people. Some of them are just travel buddies, but some of them become very close friends. Friends, you don’t want to be without anymore. It feels like you’re soul mates and you’ve known each other forever. Unfortunately, the day you have to say good bye comes way too soon. Your world is breaking down and you don’t know how to keep traveling without your friend.
Eventually, you keep going, but wish that that friend was still be with you. It’s hard to say good bye, every single time.
All in all I must say that the good times outweigh the bad. It is true, that you learn more from the bad experiences, but hey, you travel to enjoy your life. So if you feel like nothing goes the way you want it, give it a bit of time and try it again.