There is a definite perception, probably fuelled by the rose tinted lenses of social media, that when we are travelling everything is perfect, every moment is an Instagram moment and we are all perfectly happy all of the time. Well that isn’t true, life isn’t like that at all, but the important thing to remember is that no one should really expect it to be.
I have been travelling the world now for twenty years, I’ve been to all four corners of the planet and I like to think of myself as a pretty experienced traveller as a result. I can deal with things pretty well when they go wrong, adapt to changing situations and accept that things don’t always go to plan.
Accept when I don’t.
My latest realization of this absolute fact that sometimes bad days just happen – and I say latest because it is a realization that I have had before and sometimes need reminding of – was on a trip to Egypt.
I generally travel slowly, and like to get a mixture of my own personal time and work time, keeping the two completely separate as a way to achieve a work life balance. But I hadn’t been doing that.
I had been in Egypt for a little while and had just got back to Cairo, spending a few days straight at Giza and attempting to work and get some writing done, and I was in general enjoying myself. I do genuinely love what I do.
But I was also tired. I wasn’t giving myself the time I needed to relax. As a result little things started to get to me. The things that I normally shrug off, the touts, the noise, the wifi stopping working for the 10th time in as many minutes, the endless disgusting stink of smoke everywhere, started to get to me. I became ratty, irritable.
And then came the taxi drivers.
Taxi drivers are in general the worst kind of people for travellers, and that is true all over the world. The non stop rip offs and cons, the endless overcharging and lies about the meter not working, it gets really tiresome really fast. And I could actually feel myself getting annoyed with them and by extension everyone else as well.
I snapped at a couple of touts. I remember actually chiding myself and purposely biting my tongue before responding to a few of them, reminding myself that I was in Cairo, in Egypt, I was living my childhood fantasy and I should be out here enjoying every single second.
Not that it was working, I was just getting increasingly fed up, and this culminated when a driver used the meter but demanded three times as much. I lost my usual sense of calm and escalated a situation that could have gone very badly since as a male traveller I am significantly more likely to have violence used against me and it was very clear this driver had no qualms about doing so.
Luckily I extracted myself without too much of a problem, but that situation stayed with me far longer than it should have done. I’m no stranger to bad situations and can normally shake them off but this kept niggling at me, annoying me, purposely chipping away at me for the rest of the afternoon. And I was pissed. Everything was annoying me. Every one was annoying me.
I tried to have a word with myself and tried to calm down.
Hell I was even annoying myself now!
I needed to take a step back. I needed to rest. And that is exactly what I did. I gave up any notion of work, social media or anything for the next few days and simply slept, read a book and relaxed, and it did me the world of good! I stopped chiding myself for that bad day and reminded myself that it was just a bad day, nothing more nothing less.
Because at the end of the day I am only human, and sometimes I get things wrong too. Sometimes I am tired, or I got out of the wrong side of the bed, or I haven’t had enough caffeine yet or am simply having a bad day. And everyone, everywhere has bad days from time to time.
It can be so easy to forget that whilst we are off having the adventure of our lifetimes, travelling the world and ticking off endless items on our bucket lists, that there will still be things that go wrong. There will still be those moments when all you want to do is throw your head into a pillow and wish the entire world will go away.
But that’s okay. It’s life. You are only human.
Sometimes it is really important to remember that even when we are surrounded by awesome things or doing things many people can only ever dream of, we can still just feel down, we can still get tired and not feel 100%.
Sometimes it is important to remember to take a step back, recognise that fact and just deal with it. Take the time you need to get yourself back to normal, have a nap, go to the gym, hydrate yourself and rest, whatever it may be that you need to do, just do. Then you can get back to living in the present and enjoying the amazing places you are travelling to.
Because everyone has bad days, you will too, but that is completely normal. Tomorrow is a new day and you can get back to enjoying your travels again.
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This is a brilliant reminder that every traveller (or potential traveller) should read! The ‘perfect trip’ doesn’t exist and clinging onto that notion is what leads to disappointment.
Thanks Nisha, you aren’t wrong. 🙂
This!! Exactly! It is such a normal part of everyones travel experience but it feels like no one ever really talks about it. Everyone feels like this. I have had days where I have lost my rag at the taxi drivers in KL or Bangkok, or the vendors in well, anywhere. The important thing to remember is that you will get over it. You will calm down. Those feelings are just temporary. However long it is, acknowledge those feelings, get them out of your system and then carry on feeling awesome again because you are in an amazing place doing amazing things and you worked really hard to get where you are.
Oh I’ve definitely had those moments with KL and BKK taxi drivers too John! You’d have to be superhuman not to! But you are so right, thanks for the comment.
It all sounds so familiar. It’s an incredible time, seeing new things, meeting new people, but it’s so tiring and you just want something familiar. And a rest. Great post, thanks for sharing!
I know, we are all just human after all and we all get tired. 🙂
Amazing! You are so right, it is so important to not think everything should be perfect all of the time and remember that we do get tired and can get in a bad mood and can just have a bad day too!
Exactly Alice, well said!
I think too many people hold themselves up to impossible Instagram ‘everything is always perfect’ standards and it just doesn’t work that way.
That is very true Julie.
Well said! I think every traveller needs to be reminded of this from time to time
I do too.
Such a timely reminder. I’ve just had a day exactly like this. Tired, especially after a week of hectic sightseeing and late nights (and that overnight bus mistake), losing my temper with taxi drivers making up fares as they go along and trying to hit on me… I’m spending a couple of days in bed!
Sounds like a good idea.
This! Travel isn’t all sunshine and BJs and nor should it be. Life just isn’t like that. It’s important I think to reflect the reality of any situation and not give any potential traveller a false idea of what it is like, because when they do get those down days, and they will, they will be better prepared for them.
Exactly. It;s all about setting realistic expectations.
Such an honest post, and I am absolutely sure everyone out there can relate to it. We have all had those days and it is important to remember that travel won’t magically make you immune from them.
Unfortunately you are absolutely right John. We are only human, travel or not.
So true. We can often give ourselves such a hard time.
We reallly can.