Frustrations on the Road

Long-term travel There are plenty of great posts and articles discussing all of the wonderful things travel has to offer. But like most good things, there is also a downside to traveling – it’s just that no one ever talks about that. Christine Talianis of “Bert & Patty” shares with us the frustrations she’s faced on the road during her year-long career break. Many people will be able to relate!

What are some of the unexpected frustrations you’ve encountered on the road?
I think the biggest thing is we didn’t know it was going to be so much work. Seems like we spend an awful lot of time planning our next move, figuring out where we are and how to get around (get a guesthouse, find somewhere to eat, laundry, find out what to do in that town/city, public transport, local scams, etc.). By the time we do all of that, we barely have time to journal, write in blogs and upload photos. So, we opt for a beer and get another day behind. I also thought there would be free wifi everywhere, and there definitely isn’t—guess we were spoiled in Seattle.

Is there anything you wish you knew in advance to help prepare yourself for them?
No Mattress I wish I had a heads up that it wasn’t always going to be fun and exciting. Seems like nobody talks about the downside to long term travel and it’s even worse when we read other blogs and it sounds like others are having the time of their lives while we are struggling (I guess who’s going to write about it or take photos when they are struggling anyways, right!). Then we just feel crazy and felt bad because we were supposed to be having fun!

We also never expected we would argue so much because at home we got along so well; agreeing most of the time on what we were doing. Maybe it’s the fact that you are together 24/7 and making tons of new decisions every day. It wasn’t until we met other couples (who seemed to be having a great time and well adjusted) and they also reported experiencing the exact same stresses and arguments. Then we started to give ourselves a break and reminded ourselves that this is an unusually stressful situation. I think a lot of the bickering in the early days had to do with the stress of not knowing what the heck we were doing, traveling way too fast (we never stayed anywhere for more than 2 nights) and we were spending so much money in Australia and New Zealand. Now we feel like old pros, we stay in places 4 and 5 nights at a time and our money goes so much further in SE Asia.

Did you ever expect to miss your job and a structured schedule so much?
No, I never thought I would miss my job or structure, but we both do. We’ve even contemplated ending the trip so we can get back into a routine again. Glad we didn’t because we are having a great time. I think the biggest thing about work that I miss is my work friends (and my other friends for that matter). Oh what I would give to have a coffee or lunch with one of my girls and catch up on all the gossip or life issues. Plus, I miss the feedback of friends. On the other hand, I do love being with my Paul everyday creating so many meaningful experiences.

Alone time How have you been coping?
The biggest thing was talking about it with other long term traveling couples. Asking them if they experience the same things we do (and we were surprised to hear that they did). When we found that out, we didn’t stress about it so much anymore. We gave ourselves a break. Literally. Now, if we are feeling frustrated with each other, we agree to take an hour or two apart and meet back afterwards. It works out pretty nicely to have some ‘me’ time. We also split up at times so Paul can take some more photos while I get a massage—talk about a good break!!!

What would you tell others who are just preparing for their travels?
I would tell them it’s going to be the most amazing time of their lives. We feel so privileged to be able to travel for 13 months and experience so many cultures and beautiful places. I would also tell them it’s going to be a lot of work at times just trying to get everything together, so don’t travel too fast, enjoy the place you are in, talk to locals, experience the food, and by all means, don’t try to do it all. There are so many things we have set aside for another trip back to SE Asia. It’s amazing to think we have so much time but still we have to miss stuff but it is true.

Tour in Nha Trang Lately, we are having some great adventures because we have been more spontaneous. For instance, we got accosted by a couple of guys on a motorcycle the other day who offered to take us around Hue and we did it. It turned out to be much better than the city tour we took the day before and so much more fun. Or another time, a tout jumped into our taxi and took us to his hotel, which turned out to be a great deal and quite lovely and led into another hotel in the next town. Also, have a plan about bickering because it is definitely going to happen and it’s different than when you are at home because you lack a support system and you can’t just hop in the car and take a drive to cool off. And most importantly, make sure to be very good to each other and do the little things even though you are together 24/7.



Other comments

9 Comments on "Frustrations on the Road"

  1. Tweets that mention Frustrations on the Road | Briefcase to Backpack - Travel Advice for Career Breaks or Sabbaticals -- Topsy.com on Mon, 21st Jun 2010 11:12 am 

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sherry Ott, BriefcasetoBackpack. BriefcasetoBackpack said: The frustrations every RTW traveler faces but rarely talks about – @bertandpatty speakout http://su.pr/2wb2mn [...]

  2. Warren Talbot on Mon, 21st Jun 2010 12:16 pm 

    What an outstanding post. We are big fans of “Bert & Patty” and have been living through their experiences the last few months. At times I fear we are all just twins separated by birth by how closely we react to situations in such similar ways.

    Having this information just a couple months before we follow in your footsteps is invaluable. We will apply each of the lessons you learned and truly appreciate your willingness to be so open to helping others on their journey.

    Betsy and I hope we get an opportunity to meet you in person on the road. In the meantime we will be following your blog.

  3. Cindy Peterson on Mon, 21st Jun 2010 1:46 pm 

    I love this interview. It’s rare to find anyone willing to admit to the challenges of traveling long-term as a couple, and spending 24×7 together, which you would never do in the real world. Thanks Christine for an honest and candid interview, hopefully it will be insightful to couples on the road. My husband Bill and I learned the hard way, as you did, by adjusting real time to learn to deal with the frustrations of traveling and figure out our (much needed) “alone time” on the road!

  4. Sherry Ott on Mon, 21st Jun 2010 5:02 pm 

    It’s weird – but often when I read blog posts about how great everything is and how beautiful it is – I often chuckle to myself knowing that there is a lot more to the story. I think helping people be aware of that is key. Like everything in life, there are ups and downs…you just have to choose what brings you the most ups and the least downs.

  5. christine on Thu, 24th Jun 2010 2:33 am 

    thanks for your comments….sure wish we had known ahead of time…..i was such a pollyanna…..thought spending 24/7 together would be a snap….so, when we did have challenges, i was shocked…..but, glad we are over that hump now…..and enjoying lovely Greece….happy travels everyone!!!

  6. Jenny on Wed, 22nd Sep 2010 1:45 pm 

    I think if you can survive a year long RTW trip with someone, you can survive anything! ;)

  7. Matt | YearAroundTheWorld on Thu, 30th Sep 2010 12:16 pm 

    Slowing down and not trying to do everything makes all the difference sometimes.

  8. Christine on Fri, 1st Oct 2010 7:30 am 

    I totally agree Matt. If we could do it again, I think we would have stayed places longer and done something more meaningful, like volunteering. Then again, we sure saw and experienced a lot. I think we would have skipped Australia and New Zealand and stayed more in the budget backpacking countries to relieve the stress of all that spending. No regrets though, just learning experiences. We look forward to C. and S. America some day where we will spend a lot of time.

  9. Bluegreen Kirk on Mon, 13th Jun 2011 8:34 am 

    I like the fact that you give some realistic problems of traveling. Far to often all you hear is the great things that have to do with traveling. Seems like no one else has any issues even at home everything isnt perfect.

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