One of the greatest joys of travel is the unpredictability of exploring somewhere new. But however different our travels might be, we’ve all been struck by a number of universal thoughts along the way.
So whether you’ve grappled with getting up at sunrise or been through the various stages of recognising your own ineptness in another language, you’ll have most likely experienced something along these lines…
1. The flight was definitely today, right?
You checked – multiple times – yet still face a moment of abject panic when you arrive at the airport bugged by the unsettling feeling that you’ve mixed the dates up. You know you should have confirmed it one final time. A firm pat on the back if you got the date right; credit card at the ready if you got it wrong.
2. Why hasn’t teleportation been invented yet?
Twelve hours squashed into an aerodynamic tin can ingesting stale air is no one’s ideal start to a trip. But unless a cargo freighter across the Atlantic sounds like a viable alternative, we don’t yet have many other choices.
3. Speaking another language? Easy!
Just say it with the right accent and you’re off. Dos cervethaas por favoorrr.
4. Maybe I’ll just smile and nod…
Ordering beer was one thing, but you now realise you should have kept up with Duolingo for longer than those four enthusiastic days. You just keeping smiling and nodding – actual words are completely overrated.
5. 4am is beautiful – I should be awake at this time more often!
While the cheap flights which forced you to check in before even the airport cleaner arrived weren’t the best introduction to the beauty of 4am, getting up at dawn to see sights like the Bolivian salt flats is enough to convince you of the benefits of those early mornings. You’ll definitely apply this to life back home…
6. Dorm with 17 other people? No problem: I sleep like a log.
At some point you’ve definitely been lured into the big budget dorm – you’re the master of snoozing away nights on airport floors after all. But hostels play by distinct rules; all’s well and good until the inevitable nose-trumpeter gets going or the even less charming noises of an amorous couple become the backdrop to yet another sleepless night.
7. A 14-hour bus journey will be a breeze.
Reclining overnight bus seats always seem overrated – or at least until the next morning when you wake moulded into the shape of the 30-square-centimetre space that was your “bed”. The day spent unintentionally giving your best John Wayne impression just adds insult to injury.
8. Should I have eaten that?
You love street food and the feeling of embracing local flavours as you dive into that delicious, seaming bowl of, well, whatever is floating around in there. But there’s always that nagging question at the back of your head about whether you’ve just committed a momentous travelling faux pas.
9. No, I really shouldn’t have eaten that
It looked delicious but it was a recipe for an afternoon spent in a squat toilet. Speaking of which, where’s the nearest?
10. Alcohol is a great way to “experience the local culture”
A night of “tasting the culture” – read: drinking a bottle of sake – is the obvious way to learn about your new surroundings, right? Maybe, but the inevitable brain-splitting hangover reminds you that there are many more wholesome, less painful, ways to do so. Museums. Temples. People-watching. You vow to make better choices next time.
11. I’m king of the world! I’m invincible!
When you’re travelling, you’re a superhuman; capable of summiting 6000m-high mountains and bungee jumping towards very solid-looking ground. Life is awesome.
12. I’m not invincible! Where’s my travel insurance?
As it turns out, while you might successfully hike further than you’ve done in the previous six months put together, you’re equally capable of tripping over a rock and requiring a speedy trip to the local hospital.
13. Why does it have to end?
Sadly there’s no stopping the inevitable passing of time. However hard you try to fight it, the return plane journey soon looms and you’re soon thrown back into real life.
14. When’s the next trip?
All good things must come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your next adventure. And you will – the very moment you’re back on home turf.