A few days ago, I hit the wall.
I knew this day would come. Every long-term traveler I have talked to has hit such a wall at some point, so it was bound to happen.
After over 100 days on the road, things are starting to get to me. Travel burnout has set in.
I have gained weight to the point that my pants don’t fit.
I have worn holes I the thighs of my nice jeans and my hiking pants and am down to one pair of jeans until I get those back from a repair shop on Monday. Even though I tell myself every day I am going to eat better, I just don’t stick to it. And while I am walking miles every day, it doesn’t compare to my exercise routine back home. I have managed to work in strength training routines when I have stayed in hotels, but it’s been impossible to do anything in tiny, cramped hostel rooms.
I am sick of staying in hostels.
If I had the money, I would stay in hotels the rest of the way. Everyone seems to rave about how great hostels are for meeting people, but that just hasn’t been the case for me. Aside from a few people in St. Petersburg and Ulan Ude, not only have I not clicked with anyone I’ve met in hostels, I haven’t even really liked anyone. Most people have been about half my age and often rude and inconsiderate. I also hate the lack of privacy and independence. I have gotten to the point where I cringe just thinking about checking into my next hostel and I long for the next time I get to stay in a hotel.
I am tired of lugging my backpack everywhere.
I wrote as part of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project about how I hate my backpack and long for my suitcase. This is especially true on travel days when I arrive at my destination soaked in sweat from carrying my backpack for blocks – I would be soooo much more comfortable just rolling a large suitcase. My back would be thanking me as well.
I miss social interaction.
I realized that most of my past “solo” trips really weren’t all that “solo” and had a lot of built-in opportunities for socializing. When I visited Australia, I met up with friends in Melbourne and Sydney, took a weekend group tour and did a few day tours. In Germany, I stayed with a friend I Frankfurt before heading out on my own. On all of my other trips, I traveled solo but as part of a group, making it easy to meet other people. I assumed on this trip I would be meeting tons of cool people in hostels to hang out with, but as that hasn’t been the case so far, I am really missing having a social life.
I long for the days when I could spend money freely.
I have been watching what I spend for over a year and a half now and frankly, it is getting old. I miss being able to go out to dinner and not think about how much I am spending on my meal or glass of wine. I miss the vacations when I could throw in an extra day trip or guided tour or cool souvenir without a second thought. I miss being able to simply replace my jeans when they rip instead of hunting down someone to repair them.
I miss my friends.
I miss having someone to just call up or meet for a drink when I want to rave about a great day or commiserate over a bad day. Sure, I can post it on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s just not the same. And while everyone warned me this would happen, it is still sad and disappointing to feel like your friends back home have forgotten about you. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this and I doubt it will be the last.
I am starting to worry about the future.
I can hear a chorus of people telling me not to worry but the fact is, my Type A personality won’t let me not worry. At this point, I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to show for this trip when it comes to helping my job search afterwards. My volunteer experiences, which I hoped would be resume-building, productive, learning opportunities, were instead major busts. And when I talk to friends who have been back from their career breaks for over six months and are still looking for work, I start to freak out. I can’t help but wonder if this all will be worth it.
It is hard for me to admit I’m struggling.
Before I left, my dad made me promise that if I wasn’t enjoying the trip that I would come home. He referred back to when I toughed out a miserable freshmen year of college without telling anyone how rough everything really was. That may have been over fifteen years ago, but I can see similarities to where I am at now. Everyone assumes your freshman year of college will be amazing – and likewise, I feel like most people back home see this trip as an extended vacation where I am just having a blast every day. While I expected challenges, it has been much harder than I anticipated and it is hard to admit when you aren’t living up to people’s expectations, especially your own. So while this post was easy to write in my head, it was hard to actually hit the “publish” button.
But I’m not throwing in the towel.
It doesn’t surprise me that I hit this wall around the holidays. I have always been someone who gets a little down during the holiday season so why should it be any different that I am overseas? I also think I am putting too much pressure on myself to do something great for Christmas and New Year’s and that is stressing me out. I almost think I’d be happier just holing up in a hotel room by myself and watching TV. Like most years, I think I will feel a big sense of relief as soon as January 1 arrives.
I am looking forward to the two weeks I have planned in Belarus starting January 3 – a country that hardly anyone visits (and in which I will spend the entire time in hotels!!). And I think it will be nice to develop a routine again when I stop in Kiev for several weeks to take Russian classes. I am optimistic that my volunteer experience in Armenia will be vastly better than my attempts to volunteer in Russia and I am eagerly anticipating the months I will spend exploring Central Asia.
And I can’t wait to get to Warsaw next week, where there is a GAP store and I can buy a new pair of my favorite jeans.
Have you hit the wall while traveling? How did you get through it?