The Ups and Downs of Travel

August 4, 2016

Social media has certainly changed the travel industry. Hell it has changed A LOT of things. It has certainly made connecting with new people extremely easy and staying in touch with friends/family is no problem at all. Depending on how you use social media, it can be a positive or negative tool.  Travel has become a huge part of my life and social media is a wonderful source for sharing my passion of photography and staying in touch with friends/family.

Travel has become one of the top priorities and something my life has revolved around for the past 5+ years. I recently published a very in depth overview of my last five years in this post, Love, Death & the Fulfillment of Travel.  When traveling long term you are going to have dips and peaks, just like anytime in life. Travel causes more ups and downs since you are constantly put in new situations. Sometimes it’s pure ecstasy, but eventually this wears off and you end up down in the dumps. Social media is great for sharing your feelings and so is blogging, but there is a tendency to bury the dips in life and only showcase the peaks. Sometimes it’s small annoyances or other times it can be bigger problems that travel seems to amplify. Regardless of the many dips I have had while traveling, the pros GREATLY outweigh the cons and that’s why I continue to live this nomadic life!  One of the best parts of traveling is constantly meeting new people. Today’s post comes via a good Canadian friend of mine, Leah. She is a talented writer and we met while traveling around New Zealand. Her post does a great job at explaining some of the dips from her 1 year trip abroad.

Taupo Mountain

Here is Leah’s Story:

It was 4am and I was sleeping in the back of a van, parked in a driveway of someone I had met twice and partied with once while he slept inside on his friends’ couch.

I could not believe this was my life.

I felt a lot of things in this moment: cold, sad and very insecure about my life. About the fact that I had arrived in Queenstown earlier in the day and every single hostel was booked solid, and the only option I felt I had was to call up Michael and sleep in his van. So I did. And yeah – how nice it was that I actually had this option; that I “knew” someone who not only gave me a place to stay but cooked me dinner while I poured us each a glass of red wine.

And I appreciated it at the time! I mean, that’s what this was all about afterall. Live the dream! Make no plans! Fly by the seat of your pants!

But when our wine was dry; when I “went to bed” and the van door clicked shut behind me, my appreciation for this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lifestyle stayed locked outside.

travel van

What the fuck was I supposed to do next?

And as I lay there contemplating this, I realized this about the solo travel lifestyle:

It’s lonely

Sure, you are meeting new people on the daily – and this is awesome, because it introduces you to incredibly interesting people and thoughts and ideas. But regardless of this, you will have so many moments where all you want is normalcy. Comfort. A conversation with someone you’ve known for years, and who gets your personality without you having to explain yourself and/or feel the need to prove yourself. And this probably makes you sad for a bit.

But being lonely isn’t bad.

Travelling strips you down to your rawest form because all you have is yourself – and when this happens, you become insanely aware of what makes you happy and what doesn’t. And in no other time in your life do you feel as free and able to strip out all those unhappiness factors, because you’re never as raw as you are now. There are always pressures and people and expectations clouding everything you do in your “normal life”; expectations that you need to stay in touch with XX amount of people and make it to XX’s birthday party cuz she came to yours; expectations that you need to be doing cool things with cool people and feeling like a cool person at all times – which led me to my next realization:

Instagram is bullshit

I mean, this is nothing new. We all know it’s bullshit. We all know we’re showing off the best parts that we want everyone to see and hiding the rest in order to fulfill these expectations of doing cool things with cool people and feeling like a cool person. And that’s okay! I love it regardless. But it is SO essential that we always remember how fake it can be, because it is so easy to feel bad about your own life when you scroll through a feed of all these picture-perfect vacay shots; of everyone else’s cool bullshit. So, know this: as I lay there in this strange van in Queenstown unable to fall asleep, I instagrammed a photo to fill the time. It got 118 likes and 10 positive comments. But nobody knew I had posted it with tears in my eyes and a desperate longing for someone I loved to come hug the shit out of me. All they saw was this photo/caption duo from someone who claimed to be ‘living the dream’ – so they (and 117 others) hit the like button and sent me a message telling me they were jealous of my life. But in this moment it was all bullshit, because all I was thinking about was the fact that:

Travelling is stressful

Yes it’s beautiful and freeing and quite likely, everything you wanted it to be. But you will have moments where you go to pay your credit card bills and have a minor panic attack at the state of your bank account. Or you watch another engagement announcement pop up on your Facebook feed and start to question if this lifestyle was such a good choice afterall. Look how behind you’re falling! What do you even have to go home to anymore? You’ll feel this – more often than you expected to, probably – and you should let yourself feel it. Because you’ll wake up one day to watch a sunrise or end up drinking beers on a random beach with these random people, hidden from the rain and you’ll know:

It doesn’t f*cking matter.

None of it. Your bank account. Your up-in-the-air career. Your phone plan and apartment and the fact that you’re missing your best friends’ housewarming. It doesn’t matter, because you’re here, and this is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Right here, in this moment with these people. Something will happen that makes you feel something, and you’ll know that it was all worth it. All the loneliness and tear-stained Instagrams and insecurities; it was all worth it. You’re here and you’re free and life is absolutely taking you where you need to be.

So the point is this: that romanticized, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants & never stop exploring lifestyle can be hard. It is most definitely not as picture-perfect as we’ve made it out to be in our heads. Sometimes this lifestyle means our phone is out of credit and our wallet is out of money and the only place we have to sleep is a stranger’s van. But all of these things force us to face ourselves; to see up close what we’re like and what our weaknesses are. What makes us scared and excited; what our default reactions are. It forces us to see new things and feel new feels and get to know ourselves inside and out – and to love the absolute shit out of whoever we happen to be.

You can follow Leah’s journey on her blog Specifically Everything! She has some great stories from traveling around the world while working on her book.

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