When planning a trip, we tend to only focus on the good times to come. We dream of beautiful sights and gorgeous weather, delicious meals and friendly people. While we’re daydreaming, we don’t want to think about the struggles we’ll face, even though they’re also tied to the act of travelling.
Of course, whether we anticipate them or not, bad times will come. There will be awful weather and transportation delays. Or perhaps there will be language barriers and scams. They’re simply an unavoidable part of travel.
Maybe you’ll find yourself arriving somewhere in the pouring rain, only to realise that you can’t find your hotel and your phone is dead. And then your bank card won’t work in any of the ATMs. At this point, you’re walking around hopelessly, desperate for food or shelter, but unable to find either without any money. With every corner you turn, you’ll feel increasingly frustrated, at a loss for any sort of solution.
In that moment, you’ll want to give up.
Maybe you missed the last bus, meaning you have to spend the night in the terminal. You’ll try to sleep on the cold, hard chair, doing your best to keep yourself warm as the temperature drops lower and lower. As soon as you start to drift to sleep despite your intense discomfort, an angry security guard will yell in your ear to wake you up, in a language you don’t understand, and the battle for sleep will begin again.
In that moment, you’ll wonder if it’s worth it.
Maybe you’ve arrived in a new city, your heart still aching for the person you’ve just said goodbye to. You’ll be exhausted and sad from the journey, unwilling to deal with the people around you trying to sell you hotels, trinkets and tours. Then, you wander aimlessly for the next couple of days, hoping for a true connection. But you get nothing more than catcalls and harassment in return, and you feel too emotionally drained to do anything about it.
In that moment, you’ll want to go home.
But you shouldn’t.
Though those are moments that’ll make you want to kick and scream, they’re just as important as the good times that inspired you to travel in the first place
A terrible experience helps you appreciate the good so much more. Just like how you’d appreciate a view much more after an arduous hike, you’ll appreciate your travel highs if it took a bit of suffering to get you there.
Think of how comfortable a bed feels after a night on the bus, or how good it feels to be warm once you get out of the freezing rain. Think of how valuable a true friendship is after days of loneliness, or how free you’ll feel once there are no more plans to make, no decisions to take. Think of how much you’ll appreciate knowing a new language after months of blunders and miscommunication.
Of course, think of how much additional confidence you’ll have after surviving it all! Your resilience and problem-solving skills will be tested, and you’ll only be tougher once you overcome all the challenges thrown your way. There’s something special about having to deal with unpleasant situations when you’re already out of your comfort zone—it’s a lot more frustrating, but also a lot more rewarding.
You’ll learn from your mistakes and become a better traveller, one who plans wisely and reacts instantly. It’ll be easier to know what to look out for and what to avoid. You can then detect fault lines in your planning before you even hit the road. There’s no better teacher than failure.
Yes, there are travel moments you’ll absolutely despise. Those are the ones you need. No strong spirit was built exclusively on happiness and ease. Travel is just as much about challenge and frustration as it is about fun and relaxation. It’s all these little struggles that will shape you, that will allow your trip to turn you into a better and stronger person. When you finally go home, you’ll be much prouder of who you’ve become. You’ll be left with a story to laugh at, to wear as a badge of honour.
Don’t travel to escape life’s challenges; travel to embrace them. Travel to own them, to reap the rewards of having overcome them. Travel for the beach, and the 12-hour flight or bus ride that got you there. Travel for the ruins, and the thousand miscommunications it took to find them. Travel for the new friendships, and the tears you’ll shed when it’s time to say goodbye. It’s all part of the same package, and that package is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself.
This story was originally published on Traveloka.
Zafigo republished this story in full with permission from the author to hopefully bring the story and the author to a larger audience, simply because good authors and stories should be read by as many people as possible! If you are keen on Zafigo republishing your stories that will be of interest and useful to women travellers especially in Asia and the Middle East, please get in touch with us at [email protected].