19 July 2014

The Unspoken Truth About Travel Lows

You're in paradise yet today you can't shake your mood. It's something you've probably not heard often. Never? I'm not surprised. Who would complain when they have their feet planted in white sand, glasses on and beer in hand?

My generation is the generation of "you can do anything"s and "take a gap year and travel the world"s and "quit your job and find yourself before you settle down"s. So you've followed your dream, done some soul searching, made friends, drunk Chang, seen the world but this morning, think week you're just grumpy. And your friends are at home studying for exams, slogging at an internship, working as a lifeguard at the local pool on minimum wage. You feel bad complaining and they wouldn't understand anyway.

Ask anyone about their trip away and they will say it was amazing, unforgettable, awesome, but what about those times where you just wanted a hug, a bowl of coco pops and a delayed first great western train?

This the the truth. You can't be happy every day for months on end, unless your high on something strong and intoxicating. Like 'normal life' there are some days and weeks where you're just not feeling it.

I've had a couple of these and for many reasons including isolation, phobias and panic attacks, loneliness and illness. Two illnesses in a week and a half (including a severe bout of couples food poisoning on Josh's last night) really took it's toll and I was all but ready to chop a month off my trip. I knew in my head it didn't make sense, as I deferred Uni (twice) partly so I could travel for more than the length of a uni holiday and here I was considering ending it at 14 weeks.

In the end what helped was a long ass journey. I sat down with my lonely planet book and started from scratch. For my last month what did I want to see and do? I settle on sun, city, yoga and nature. I read at the inspiration at the beginning of the book and considered a whole new country - Malaysia. I had planned to go to Myanmar and had met half a dozen travellers who talked avidly about how amazing it was and how amazing the people were, but it would help me achieve my new list so I made the decision to cull it.

Some ideas to get back your travel mojo

  • Pick a random page in a guide book or find a travel blog and start reading to be inspired all over again.
  • Phone home and talk only about quantum physics, where lost socks go or fluffy... Anything to take your mind off things and stop you overthinking.
  • Book five nights at your next destination with no plans. Settle in to a routine - lie-in, eat western food and do some exercise. Go against every travel 'rule' to break away from 'should and must do's.
  • Do something normal that makes you feel more in control eg. do some laundry, chuck out old toiletries bottles, repack your entire bag, sort your photos in to albums.
  • Send postcards to your family with ByPost telling them your highlights so far and that you're missing them. This will help you focus on the positive and combat the feeling of being alone in the world.
  • Find a quiet viewpoint and do some deep breaths, read a book or listen to music to help you relax.
  • Pamper yourself with a hair mask, massage, nail varnish, facial etc. to boost your confidence.
  • Make a non-specific bucket list that can be ticked off at any time eg. meet someone with a story to tell, find a secret spot, find a great novel at a book exchange, find your new favourite food. This will give your travel new purpose and focus without the pressure.



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