Monday, December 12, 2011

Travel Logged

If you have stopped by anytime in the past couple months than you are well aware of my latest travel adventure. Every time I tell anyone a story from my travels they inevitable comment on how much they would love to be able to travel extensively. It seems to be everyone's wish to be able to travel freely. So as someone who has spent much of my adult life on the road I would like to inform you of how unglamorous excessive travel can be.

5. Food
One of the first thing everyone thinks about when they think of traveling is the food. From ethnic cuisine in Europe to regional dishes in the States, food is a main focal point of most peoples travels, to eat like the locals and experience meals that one will most likely never get a chance to indulge in again.
Dinner is served.
It would be a lie for me to tell you that I haven't experienced some of the most amazing food during my travels. From caprese in Italy to the delicious Hispanic dishes of the American south west, the foods I have enjoyed during my travels are some of my greatest memories of the places I have visited. There is a reason, however, to why these experiences stick out in my travels, because they are so rare. I would argue that on the latest trip across America, 75% of the food consumed came in a wrapper or passed through a window before being consumed. Even on my trips to Europe much of the food I consumed was done so more out of necessity rather than for cultural experience. Airports, bus stations and the inside of the car become your dining room, as you grab the quickest cheapest thing to quell your hunger.

When you do get the joy of stopping and eating the local cuisine, your stomach is likely to find issue with the plethora of unknown entities flowing into it. On more than one occasion I got the joyous experience of getting to enjoy my meal a second time while wrapped around a toilet. But it's not always a rush that causes one to need to grab crappy food...


4. So Bored
Sitting on a beach, bathing in the sun's warm rays as the waves gently caress your feet. An image that instantly enters peoples minds when they think of traveling to exotic locations, advertisements for Sandals Resorts use this imagery to sell people of traveling to some island in hopes of removing all the money from their pockets. It's the image, pinned up in cubicles around the world, of paradise.
#LifeOnTheRoad
Unfortunately the three hours you spend relaxing on the beach in a given trip are far out numbered by the number of hours you get to spend sitting in Airports, train stations and possibly the worst of all, driving in car, bored to death. There is nothing to distract one in any of these places, mainly because your mind is stuck on the destination, too busy with the thought of getting to that perfect beach.

Hours and hours of my life have been spent in the process of traveling, whether in a terminal or in transit, luckily after years of doing this I have developed the ability to sleep anywhere, anytime. It's not really sleep, as I don't wake up refreshed, it's more of a temporary hibernation, done simply to kill time. When sleep isn't in the cards, time is killed eating shitty food just trying to do anything other than lose my mind and snapping at the guy across the way who keeps fiddling with his pen...STOP IT!

3. Sleep
You finally get to your hotel room, long hours of traveling and shitty food have exhausted you, the bed seems so inviting, so comfortable, then you lay down. The bed is stiff, the blankets rough and scratchy. The sun is beating in the window as it is midday but your jet lag is kicking in hard. Laying there you doze off, only to wake up every 15 minutes, before eventually giving up with this charade, choosing instead to supplement your lack of energy with a tall energy drink. You go out to see the place you spent so much time and money trying to get to, walking around half dazed, completely enthralled with the sights around you but unable to illicit any emotion other than apathy. Heading back to the hotel you look at your watch, it is barely half 9 but you can't bare to stay awake another moment.
Pictured: What my hotel room NEVER looks like.
Back at your hotel you try once again to sleep, the air conditioning in the room chilling the room to arctic temperatures only to let it rise to somewhere around to the temperature at high noon on mercury before returning the room back to its Inuit pleasing coldness. This goes on all night, you know this because you continue to wake every 15 minutes, due to a plethora of reasons, not least of which is your upstairs neighbor 5 hour hump session.

When morning comes you are still exhausted, you only have two days to see this city and apparently you are going to do all your sight seeing in a trance. But at least the hotel room has a toilet.


2. Bathrooms
Bathrooms aren't something that we give much thought to in our daily lives, they fall squarely in the necessity category, somewhere in between deodorant and toe-nail clippers, which not coincidentally are found in the room of baths. Luckily, we manage to only have to visit a couple different bathrooms throughout our daily lives. Once you hit the road this changes drastically, the public restroom becomes ones best friend and greatest enemy. One drives down the road judging every gas station for it's potential of having a clean restroom. Walmart's and the like become a refuge for more advance bodily functions, the bathrooms at the back of the store always being cleaner and less used.
Straight to the point, I like it.
And let's not forget that you are currently filling your digestive track with taco bell and foreign substances, eating on a different schedule and now your bathroom usage will most likely double. Many times you are forced to produce a bowl movement, for fear of not having another opportunity to do so for hours. So don't be surprised if you return home with an unwanted souvenir, hemorrhoids.


1. Relax
One thing you don't think about in your daily home life is how much time you spend relaxing, whether it's watching TV or eating a meal, you sit and relax multiple times throughout the day. On the road you never relax, their is no stopping, you eat while you drive. Even when you do reach that beach you find it crowded by other people, the sun is just a little too hot and the water a little too cold, the sand gets everywhere and it's a three miles walk to an open spot. 

How most cities look to me.
Sleeping becomes more of a chore during long trips, an inconvenience that one shoves in. In my travels I have slept on or in cars, trains, planes, buses, boats, park benches, tents, stairs, bus and train stations, under bushes, on beaches, floors, couches, chairs and in rooms with 30 other people. So sleep is all but absent from travel, and if you are awake there is too much to do to want or bother with relaxing. I have learned to schedule long stops during my trips in which relaxing and maintaining a schedule for a couple days is mandatory in order to maintain my health physically and mental on these extended trips. It still surprises me how exhausting traveling is.

This is not to say I don't love traveling, I do in fact, or I wouldn't make it a staple of my life. It's just a fair warning to anyone who wants to do an extended trip. You will get sick, you will feel like going home, you will get bored and angry at anyone you are with. But in the end you will have the greatest memories of your life, you will crave to be back on the road almost as soon as you end your trip and you will return to the road once again, over and over for the rest of your life. 

5 comments:

  1. I get antsy when I'm in one place for too long, hence me being a gypsy. I've traveled my whole life but it gets harder as I get older when it comes to sleeping in the truck & camping. Checking for bed bugs and using public restrooms is the worst. The more money you have, the better your trip is...money does buy happiness ;)

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  2. Lol my first article idea was actually about how money doesn't buy happiness and how the best times of my life have been when I was broke...maybe I'll write that next

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  3. No question that I've had the most amazing times on a shoestring budget(eternally optimistic) but money gives you options which allow you to take advantage(or not) of opportunities you wouldn't normally have. I've missed plenty of great things because I ran out of money. I would have swam with the dolphins in Mexico on my last day but one peso = no dolphin love. Plus I would travel a lot more than I already do. Money helps...just saying.

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  4. The longest trip I've ever taken is my honeymoon a little over a year ago. My wife and I road-tripped out to the East Coast, down through Georgia, and back up through the Smokey Mountains. It was a two-week trip in all, and we stayed in a lot of hotels, except for the last three days, where we rented a cabin in the mountains. (It was awesome, by the way.) I've never really been much of a traveler, for many of the reasons you list above. I do fine for a few days, but after that, I'm usually ready to come back home. Then, after I get home, I feel like I need a "vacation from my vacation." The whole public bathroom thing freaks me out as well. When it comes to #2, I avoid them like the plague - even at work. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've given in and used a public bathroom for that. (I have a lot of willpower.) God help me if I ever travel to some foreign country that has weird toilets, like the ones built into the floor.

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  5. Mike, extended traveling is difficult and defiently not for everyone, probably not for anyone lol. Two weeks is a great time frame in my opinion, it has just been easier for me to travel in between moves/jobs than to try and take a week or two off from my jobs. But I also use to have the public restroom issue, I use to never use them for #2 as you say, but eventually you have no choice when you are on the road for over a month. I have never experienced an overly weird toilet, thankfully, and I would probably just walk away from one if I did. I have however used the natural world as my facilities before and can say that it is not the most pleasant of experiences.
    and that is enough of the #2 talk for today.

    Takishia,in my experiences I have been able to go on trips where money was not an issue and I can say that while I feel I have missed alot of experiences due to lack of funds, many of the pay for fun experiences are just not worth it in the end and generally end up being touristy and lame. However I still would like to return to Colorado and do the zip cord over the valley.

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