Frustrations on the Road
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?
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.
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.
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.