What to Expect when Travelling is not as Expected

What to Expect when Travelling is not as Expected

If the social media accounts of your travelling buddies are to be taken at face value, then all of them are constantly kicking back in amazing places with nay a care in the world. Instagramming sunsets from tropical islands one week and casually uploading the perfect cloud picture from the window seat of their flight the next. Meanwhile, you’re sat inside at your shitty job, scrolling through social media on your lunch break until your thumb goes numb and your tomato sandwich goes soggy.

I’ll admit, I too am often guilty of the smug social media snap, not only because I want to ruin your day more than that moist sandwich did, but because I like sharing snapshots of what I’m doing accompanied with a witty caption to show just how much I’m YOLO’ing the fuck out of life. But I can guarantee that for every Hudson-filtered shot of me riding a horse in China or eating from a hipster market stall in London, there are at least 30 shitty life moments that aren’t projected into the public stratosphere. Partly because I can’t find a filter that makes my tears look pretty when I’m ripped off by a taxi driver after an exhausting flight, but mostly because when I find that my trip is not going as expected (a frequent occurrence), I tend to want to keep it to myself.

Travelling is definitely one of the better things I have chosen to sink my money into – except maybe for that Buffy board game I recently purchased at a church bazaar – but there are also times when it is lonely, scary and tear-inducing; and I have no doubt that this rings true for everyone who has set out travelling, even if their softly-filtered sunset shots say otherwise.

On my latest trip, I had only been gone five days when I lost both my debit cards (and thus all avenues of paying for food and accommodation), got diarrhoea, cried in a Western Union, ate an entire packet of Oreos alone in my dorm room, cried in front of a snorkel tour operator (although that was to try to get a refund), got such bad sunburn I got sunstroke, was on the receiving end of a head massage so painful I believe I was mildly concussed and dropped my plate of free breakfast on my lap, causing the guy sitting next to me to move a seat away as I proceeded to eat eggs off my dress with my fork. Truth is, when heading off on a new adventure I inevitably leave with a backpack stuffed with high expectations as well as overpriced malaria medication, so I always find myself a little shell-shocked when my jaunt isn’t going exactly as I thought it would.

However, sometimes travelling is unexpected and not in the way you’d like – such as finding yourself sharing a dorm with six Brazilian surfers who enjoy giving foot massages and expect nothing in return. The trick is to make sure that when shit falls to pieces and you instead find yourself in a dorm with six introverted foreigners who don’t speak your language that you remember exactly why you set out on this crazy adventure in the first place. Remember that for every bout of food poisoning, late-night mugging, lost iPod, beer goggle hook up and shitty accommodation choice, there will be a group of friends that you’ll make for life, a sexy accented conquest, an off-the-beaten-path tour experience and hostel that will feel like a second home. And if nothing else, those softly filtered shots of The Great Wall of China are making Gary from work jealous on his lunch break – even if straight after that photo you fell down some very steep steps and probably bruised your coccyx.

Cover photo by Jarod McCormick

Rowan still hasn’t finished War & Peace, but she did use it to balance her dinner once. Living in London, she’s steadily working her way through the Europe’s great cities and hopes to try every wine in England before her visa expires.

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