Ready to go on vacation? Excited about going on a little trip? Ready to see the world? I’m sure you must be stoked and all fired up, but before you get all excited, know there are certain things you really shouldn’t be looking forward to. Either it’s because these things suck, or because they’re not all that great and you ought to lower your expectations for them. By a lot.
While most people are all ippity up about things, I’m not. I love to travel, but I know well enough plenty of things about it are terrible. Here’s my list of ten aspects of traveling not to get excited about.
1. Meeting new people.
See the world! meet new people! Excitement! One of the biggest selling points for any destination, used by nearly every travel agency, travel brochure, or otherwise, is meeting new people. Because people are fun, except… not really. I travel to get away from people, preferably as far as possible. Why? Because people are assholes. And when I get to my destination, I’ll get to meet more assholes. But how do you know they’re assholes? You just met them? Exactly! That’s the point! You just met them. Most people seem nice when you just meet them. Even I can appear to be nice for at least five minutes. Until proven otherwise, people are assholes. Period. It’s not until getting to know the person the exciting part kicks in. Want to meet new people? Go visit a bar. Don’t waste money on an airplane ticket. Waste money on beer and shots.
I don’t oppose meeting people. But it’s something you just do when you move around. Take a cab, you meet a cab driver. It’s that simple. I get it, traveling allows you to meet a whole slew of people you otherwise wouldn’t, and part of the excitement is finding out if someone is fun or not. But not once did I ever wake up, thinking to myself; yes, today I’m gonna travel and meet people.
The only people who do so are Disney princesses, and psychopaths. Are you a Disney princess? No. You could be psychopath, however.
The best thing about not traveling? The comfort and safety of your own toilet. You don’t have worry about spending a shit load (hurhur) of time there, or stinking it up. And you don’t have to worry if and how it works. Toilets are never a selling points in brochures. You know why? Because there aren’t any good ones outside of your own home; all others are gambles. The further you are from home, the bigger the gamble. If a nation has brilliant toilets, it should be in the brochure. That should be the number one selling point.
What? Are you serious? But what about all that genuine Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Indian, French food? Or any other great kitchen? Doesn’t that make your mouth water? Sure it does. It can also make my other end with water in ways it shouldn’t. And if it does, it’ll bring us back to the previous problem on this list. I’m willing to take risks when it comes to food, I’m willing to try almost anything at least once, but the real reason food isn’t something to get too excited about? Everything is so readily available without the need to travel. There are great restaurants, almost everywhere, and local supermarkets have great products that will allow you to recreate the food you so desperately crave. And while (good) food is something to get excited about, it’s not really the real aspect that makes traveling so fun. Consider it part of the package deal.
4. (Not) traveling.
Waiting at the airport. Waiting at the train station. Waiting at the bus stop. Waiting for a cab. Waiting, waiting waiting. There are few things worse than standing still when you should be moving. You check the time on the clock, your watch, or your phone, but it’s not going anywhere either. Time has decided to take it slow today. Eventually the inevitable boredom kicks in and time starts taunting you by going even slower. Yeah there are ways to prepare for it; some music, games to play, something to read, checking your facebook (ugh) maybe. But there’s always that one moment where you realize you’re doing nothing but killing time and you immediately cease to do just that. Time found itself an extra life and is ready to kick ass. All of a sudden that 130 bpm song plays at 10 beats per minute. A 5000 worth article only has about 50, and nobody is posting anything on whatever horrible social media is out there. So. Much. Waiting.
5. Traffic and such.
Flying? Great. Ten hour flight with, crammed in a seat, in a plane that’s really starting to smell? Not so great. A scenic train ride through the mountains? Lovely. Sitting in train next to a manspreading drunk, with nothing to watch but some trees and buildings pass by for an hour? Not so great. Taxi? Devourer of budgets. Renting a car? Traffic jam!
This isn’t being on vacation. This is commuting. The whole driving with the top down on deserted roads is only one part of the experience. And let’s face it, road trips are only fun for the first 20 minutes or so.
6. Salesmen, vendors, and the like.
Everybody needs to make a living. Some however, do so in a far more obnoxious way. These people can often be found in the most touristic of places. There are times when you need a taxi and you can’t find one, and there are times when you don’t, but inexplicably there are a hundred available. Then you’ll have a hundred cab drivers begging you for attention. Tell thirty of them no, and thirty more will ask if you need a cab, even if they clearly heard you say no to those other thirty.
I’m not a big fan of buying souvenirs. I avoid the shops as much as possible. You know who are much harder to avoid? Street vendors. Not the people with their stalls on the street, but those that walk around, carrying a whole bunch of poorly made and cheap stuff, expecting you to buy against ridiculous prices. Walk around them with a big circle, and they’ll just follow you. They’re like zombies, only going after your wallet instead of your brain. Once again, you gotta make a living, but 15 Euro for a single rose? Ten for a cheap necklace? Nope.
Every time you travel, you’re bound to end up with regrets. Maybe you’ll regret the entire trip. Maybe you’ll regret spending so much money on it, or picking the wrong hotel. A lot of regrets arise when you’re back home. Others you get during the experience, especially the smaller ones. Why didn’t I put on some bug spray this night? Why am I wearing white while eating a meal that contains squid ink? Why am I replying in French to an Italian? I have no idea what that person said, but I replied with “yes” anyway. Am I lost? I’m lost. I walked too far, but I don’t want to embarrass myself so I pretend I’m looking at the time so I can pretend I have an excuse to head back. I just embarrassed myself.
8. Traveling without a plan.
I already mentioned boredom earlier, but this is about the boredom of not knowing what to do. Now, I personally try to make as few plans as possible. There are are always I few things I’m certain I want to do, and I plan those those out into the smallest details. But for most of the vacation I have zero plans or even ideas. I visit a place, I look around, I ask around, and I go from there. I get more satisfaction from just heading into the unknown, having no idea what to find or expect. It makes things more… interesting. But when it doesn’t, it either makes things awful. Or boring. There are times when I find myself wondering; I have no idea what to do. I’ll be sitting in my hotel room, having the TV turned on and set tot whatever terrible channel it has available, while I frantically google what’s to do in the area. It’s during those moments I regret not doing a bit more planning or research.
9. Traveling with people you know.
Because every previous item on this list becomes worse when people you know are involved. Meeting people? You meet someone you don’t liken but nooooo, your significant other likes that person and insists you hang out together. Toilets? Now you constantly have to interrupt the journey because someone in your group constantly needs a bathroom break.
And do you really think delays at an airport become easier when you’re with someone else? Absolutely not. Because now you also have to listen to someone complain and whine about how boring and terrible delays are. You travel with others, every problem multiplies.
10. Going Home.
Oh yeah, I do clichés and tropes. Traveling can be awful, but sometimes, man, you just don’t want to go home yet.