But I wanted to break this notion that there are no cons to being on the road. This idea that it is just a constant stream of fun.
‘There she is posting another incredible photo on Instagram, I’m so jealous of her travels, she must be having the best time!’
The grass appears greener on the other side, and sitting at your work desk on a lunch break eating a dry, bland sandwhich whilst someone is hashtagging ‘summer’ and ‘lifeisgood’ or ‘blessed’ under a peachy image that features palm trees, clear water, some fresh fruit and a mojito is one sure fire way to be transported off into a little microcosm of jealousy.
But no one really posts about the entirety of their lives, and this includes when they travel. I am talking the hard, the crap, and the plain mundane that is inevitable with all we experience in life.
On Facebook, I know I only share my best news, my best images and moments. We can filter what we do and do not show of our lives. Instagram is a selection of overanalyzed, carefully curated, cropped, heavily filtered and often fleeting moments in our lives rather than a representation of its mainstay. No, my lunch does not always look so perfect and artsy and as though I am dining in Paris, I’m basically next to beastly when I’m near food.
Instagram becomes a caveat for sharing your own photos as a means to project an envy-inspiring social media presence. There is this strange competition to have fun and a ‘better’ life.
Realistically though, it’s just not possible that we are all having the time of our lives every waking moment. This is applicable to long haul travellers and vacationers alike. It is just not realistic to expect every moment to be perfect; that every single thing, every corner, sight, smell, sensation will be changing your life or enriching it.
I haven’t been travelling long, but I feel that there is a massive pressure placed on people to constantly enjoy every single day that they travel. To go and see something, do something, and to be active in your travel exploits. To have something to show for. But sometimes, you just want to do nothing. And it’s a state often induced when some things just don’t go to plan.
Instagram never really delves into the times you get homesick and miss your family, your best friends, and home cooked food.
Facebook photos don’t convey the exhaustation from constantly packing, unpacking, walking, busing, training it from a to b to c to d to z.
No one hashtags #constipated #tummypain, that they actually haven’t been able to go to the toilet properly for the last 5 days and have been oscillating between dousing themselves with Gastro Stop and eating their bodyweight in fruit.
No one posts images of the seedy hostels they are staying in with a love struck emoji.
‘Don’t let the bed bugs bite!’ well, they freakin do….And don’t even start on the mosquitoes.
The stress of counting money, multiple currencies, and sticking to budget.
Missing your bus. Or getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere with no phone, no internet, and no one really understands what the fuck you are saying.
You spent a good day thinking you wanted to pack it all in and just go home.
All the above has happened to me in the near 2 months I have been on the road. When I posted these wonderful photos all over social media.
It’s a huge part of travel, that almost every backpacker I have encountered travelling has felt at some stages, for either short or long periods of time.
Living out of a backpack isn’t always glamorous. Travel isn’t filled with a continuous series of Cappadocia hot air balloon rising moments, those moments are the highlights wedged between waves of self doubt and exhaustion. It’s rewarding. But it is not easy.
However, I am beginning to realise that even these seemingly tough and bad times, they can be the biggest lessons and rewards of the whole experience we call travel. And teach you a whole lot about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and capacity as a person.
As one of my best friends advised me when I told her I was furiously homesick, ‘You will have routine and a base for the rest of your life. Just embrace the chaos’.
So on that note and with the knowledge these feelings are part and parcel of the travel experience, it becomes important to manage them and acquire some tactics to handle the lows. Here are some of the ways I dealt with feeling burnt out on the road!
1. Take a rest day (or two)
Bit self explanatory. But take some time to just relax and unwind. Remember, you are on holidays, you can do whatever you want. And that includes absolutely nothing
Give yourself five minutes, to just focus on your breathing, and bring it back to centre. I find this to be an effective way to calm down whenever I feel anxious.
3. Eat some good food
Never mind your budget for a day, ditch the cheap kebabs and grease, and go out and get some good wholesome food. Your body and your mind will thank you for it later.
4. Skype/Facetime/Whatsapp your fam & friends
Touch base with a familiar face or two and get some reassurance from your nearest and dearest. It will give you the strength to get through whatever block you are going through!
5. Do something you would normally do at home
I find the lack of structure and routine can be unnerving. So do something you would normally do at home. For me, exercising or writing helps me feel more settled when I am on the road.
6. Pamper yourself
Once in a while, a little self love doesn’t go astray. I am talking get your nails done, or your hair, or get a massage. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty for treating yourself.
7. Keep a travel diary
When you lose sight of how far you have come, and how much you have seen, experienced and enjoyed, looking back at a diary can help you re-calibrate and soldier on!