I love travelling. I love going to a different country - one that takes me completely out of my comfort zone and challenges the way I see the world. And usually ends with me returning home very very grateful for all the things that I have. (These are, but not limited to - being able to vote, flushing toilets and central heating).
But there are things that people gloss over. I guess the 'experience' means that you tend to overlook these aspects but they should be considered when you're about to embark on an adventure because at the end of the day it's *your* adventure and you should be able to have it the way you want, not the way people say you should have it (If that means you want a comfybed everywhere you sleep - why not?)
So what don't people tell you? And by people, I mean those judgemental "I've travelled everywhere" tool-bags' that quite likely all work in STA Travel. Kidding. I mean they can't all work there right?
1. Travelling is tiring.
I'm not talking 'it's been a long day of work tiring' but the exhaustion that seeps into your bones. Of course this depends on where you're going but a 12-hour flight does not do anyone any favours. And you don't get to stop because you get to the airport and (maybe you were smart enough or maybe you want to 'really experience the country') you have to figure out how to get from the airport to your hotel/hostel.
You spend a lot of time in transit - depending on what country you're in. Coming from England I've grown up with the thought that three hours is a long way. It's not. In most countries four- five hours in a car/bus is standard. Now factor in delays, chickens jumping out the window and bus drivers wanting to take a break. And you've lost the better part of a day. So when you see pictures of people doing things (think New Zealand, South America, Australia) odds are they were on a bus tour, that took them to the highlights.
People spend a lot of time talking about how it's 'all about the journey'. In some part it is. But there is nothing soul enriching about sitting on a bus with other foreigners doing what is essentially the big red bus around London.
3. Local Difficulties
This one varies from country to country and also depending on your ability to speak whatever the local language might be. In a lot of countries the locals are nice, they see that you are a foreigner and will go out of their way to help you and generally demonstrate why you went to that country in the first place. Or not. You can be somewhere, where your foreignness means that you're screwed. You will get crappy service, you may end up with a table as a bed and people may ignore you through a combination of embarrassment or just sheer bloody-mindedness. We're told to be understanding, it's a globalising world. Yeah some countries didn't get that memo.
4. Food will be an issue.
Yes in these days of Instagram and 'food porn' everyone can be a 'foodie'. Great. But if you're lactose intolerant (like me) countries where cheese is the go to is going to be a problem. Or if you're vegetarian and you end up in a country where 'vegetarian' means picking the ham off a pizza. Lets not forget food that disagrees with you - can't find a Tums - refer to number three because perhaps a language barrier means that trying to get the meaning of 'Tums' across is a nightmare.
5. Other travellers
This is my pet hate. While I admit that I have somewhat hermit-like nature, I haven't come halfway round the world to listen to other travellers brag about the places they've been. And not in an ironic 'chunder everywhere' sort of way. But in a serious 'When I was India..' and someone will interject with 'well when I did the vodka train across Russia'. I ask you, why would you travel somewhere, only to talk about the other places you've been? And there are types. The YOLO types, the backwards-cap wearers (AVOID), older women out to 'have the experience of a lifetime' and the odd single guy or girl who are usually ok but if in a group will have to bow to peer pressure out of sheer self-preservation.
In no way is this meant to discourage anyone from travelling but to highlight the parts of travelling that tend to be glossed over. It is a wonderful thing to see the world, I can't recommend it enough. But that world could be getting a train the other end of your own country as well as getting on a plane to Ulan Bator. Any new place has the potential to teach you something and add another layer of depth to your understanding of the world whether you're alone, or part of a group.