The unglamorous side of traveling

Most days are good. And then there are these days that suck!

As much as we love to travel, it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Don’t get me wrong, most days life on the road was great. And then there are those days when shit happens. Oh, the things you wished we’d share and stuff we never want to relive. This is the unglamorous side of traveling.

Being sick on the road

Being sick with a terrible flu wasn’t exactly what I had in mind to kickstart our big trip nor ringing in the new year for that matter, but sick I was in New Zealand on Day 1 of 320.. sigh.

IMG_2562

There was the time I came down with Delhi belly in India. Gerard had stomach issues in Ao Nang Thailand possibly from swallowing ocean water, to this day we don’t know what it was. Being sick sucks. Worst, getting sick when you’re a long ways from home. Those days I wish I was home – to sleep in your own bed, to have mom by your side, and for the love of god, is it so much to ask for a bowl of pho?!

Taking cold showers

Cold showers are often, but never by choice. I appreciate the days we have access to hot water. I understand it may not be the norm for most. As time went on, my shower time got shorter and I didn’t mind the lukewarm water dripping from the leaky shower head.

Long transit days

These are the days I loathe the most. No matter how many we’ve taken, I will never get use to transit days. 10 hour bus rides from Melbourne to Sydney, 14 hours from Uyuni to Sucre with no bathroom breaks, 20 hour train ride from Hong Kong to Shanghai and so on and so on. These are only a handful of the many transit days we don’t miss much.

transit-collage

Not being able to sleep on the overnight buses in Vietnam because the driver is speeding towards oncoming traffic to pass other motor vehicles on the road.. yup, those are my favorite days. Not!!

More fluffy towels, please

I will never get use to a quick dry towel. Sure, they serve their purpose. They’re great for long-term travel. But I hate them. I hate that their flat. I hate that they dry weird. They smell funny too. I know I sound spoiled, but some days, after a long transit day, all you want is a hot shower and a fluffy towel to dry off.

The dreaded layover

Gerard was sick for one of the longest of transit days. We were stuck in Kuala Lumpur, our least favorite of airports. There are no chairs, most people just find spots of the airport floor to rest. We spent our 9-hour layover at a Starbucks so Gerard could rest, he was not looking well.

G-KL-sick

Our worst of layovers was heading home from Peru. Our flight was delayed 6 hours not once but twice leaving Lima, we had to sleep at the airport terminal to wait for our 4am flight. Our layover in Houston was delayed again, another 9 hours of sitting on the floor outside the United Lounge to use their wi-fi.

layovers

Many layovers, we looked like this couple. Okay.. maybe not exactly like this couple, but you get the idea. Worst is having to deal with ridiculously expensive food and lack of wifi. Even the best of airports, like Seoul with their free massage chairs and showers (and hotel!), can be hard to enjoy when you’re stuck roaming around aimlessly for 10+ hours hoping to board your next plane.

Unusual snacking habits

Cup O’ Noodles was a staple in my daypack mostly for transit days where we would arrive at odd hours and there is no food to be found. I remember the time we boarded a 12+ hour train ride in India and they didn’t serve food on board. Luckily, a kind stranger shared their pakora and bag of chips to hold us over. And then there was the time we boarded a 20+ hour overnight train ride from Hong Kong to Shanghai and the onboard restaurant was closed. Thankfully, we managed to get our hands on some Cup O’ Noodles. Since then, I made sure I always had snacks on hand for days like this.

eating-noodles

We also had fair share of days when we just got plain sick of the local food. Those days, we would spend a fortune to get our hands on a Snickers bar or a box of Pringles, something we never eat at home, but found comforting while on the road.

Bugs.. yikes!

I’ve already shared the ugly side of traveling for us – bug bites. No matter where we go, SE Asia or Europe, we’re prone to bites. To this very day, I have scars from mysterious bites I’d gotten from Fraser Island and Bali.

Less than desirable sleeping arrangements

Traveling on a small budget, we dealt with lumpy beds and flat pillows or, just plain uncomfortable all together – it’s a rare moment when I can actually say, I had a good nights rest. I despise bunk beds at hostels, rock hard beds in Asia and deflated pillows in South America. Some days we didn’t even get a bed, like the time we slept in the desert in India. These are the times we really missed our own bed at home.

cusco-bed

Showering over toilets

How could anyone appreciate a shower + toilet in one? Having to wipe down wet toilet seats or getting dressed on a wet floor is challenging. I never wanted a shower curtain more than when we were traveling in Asia.

IMG_6736

Living out of a backpack

Having to pack and unpack every few days is not fun. Having only four t-shirts to wear year round can get old. Carrying around 40+ lbs for hours on end is not fun. No matter how you spin it, living out of a backpack is not fun, nor glamorous.

Squat toilets

I can honestly say, give me a squat toilet and I won’t shy away from it. I’ve used plenty over the course of our trip. I’ve even gone in the middle of the desert, TMI I know. Not saying I’d choose one over a Western toilet, just saying I don’t cringe at the sight of one. Still, it’s not the glamorous of days when we had to go.

IMG_8248

And there you have it – the unglamorous side of travel as curated by us. Or, one might say, the things we dislike about traveling. Everyone has a list. This is ours.

What’s one thing you dislike about traveling? 

You might like:

Share and Enjoy

Pinterest

, , , ,

  • http://www.thepaperplanesblog.com/ Alana – Paper Planes

    I hate quick dry towels! Honestly, they’ve never seemed to really work for me and they do smell horrible for some reason really quickly…I’ve opted to take a smaller regular towel around with me now. Even though it’s damp sometimes while being pack, it annoys me less than the quick dry ones did!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ugh.. the weird smell overtime is the worst! LOL..

  • http://www.thepaperplanesblog.com/ Alana – Paper Planes

    I hate quick dry towels! Honestly, they’ve never seemed to really work for me and they do smell horrible for some reason really quickly…I’ve opted to take a smaller regular towel around with me now. Even though it’s damp sometimes while being pack, it annoys me less than the quick dry ones did!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ugh.. the weird smell overtime is the worst! LOL..

  • http://waysofwanderers.com/ Jessica Dawdy

    Cold showers are the worst, especially when combined with the shower-over-toilet wet bathroom. It generally takes me at least 5 minutes to work up the courage to turn on the freezing water and step in – then the whole shower is one big cringe.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hahahaha.. I brace myself every time too. Something I’ll probably never get use to. But I’ve shorten my shower time so it’s less painful. 😛

  • http://waysofwanderers.com/ Jessica Dawdy

    Cold showers are the worst, especially when combined with the shower-over-toilet wet bathroom. It generally takes me at least 5 minutes to work up the courage to turn on the freezing water and step in – then the whole shower is one big cringe.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hahahaha.. I brace myself every time too. Something I’ll probably never get use to. But I’ve shorten my shower time so it’s less painful. 😛

  • http://www.cubiclethrowdown.blogspot.com/ Rika at Cubicle Throwdown

    Oooooh I hate all these too… but my #1 thing is painfully slow internet. That just drives me berserk. I know I’m spoiled…oh well 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL! Agreed!!! Not being able to connect was one of our biggest pet peeves.. I see a travel dislike list part 2 post coming soon. Haha

  • http://www.cubiclethrowdown.com/ Rika – Cubicle Throwdown

    Oooooh I hate all these too… but my #1 thing is painfully slow internet. That just drives me berserk. I know I’m spoiled…oh well 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL! Agreed!!! Not being able to connect was one of our biggest pet peeves.. I see a travel dislike list part 2 post coming soon. Haha

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    A thousand times yes to all the things on this list. I particularly hate the combined toilet/shower bathrooms that are so difficult to avoid in Asia, but since it generally means shelling out way more money to get a Westernized bathroom, I’ve learned to deal with them. But I will never ever like them and I don’t understand how anyone could!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    A thousand times yes to all the things on this list. I particularly hate the combined toilet/shower bathrooms that are so difficult to avoid in Asia, but since it generally means shelling out way more money to get a Westernized bathroom, I’ve learned to deal with them. But I will never ever like them and I don’t understand how anyone could!

  • Ellen Keith

    I adore this post! So, so true! Right down to the smelly towels.

  • Ellen Keith

    I adore this post! So, so true! Right down to the smelly towels.

  • Kyla Rose West Morden

    Did you run into the turkish toilet wash as you go situation? A lot of the squatty potties I’ve seen typically don’t have toilet paper, but rather a running hose in the back you are expected to lift and use cold water to wash yourself with and then drip dry… tmi? Sorry >. < I don't mind using them but it is nice to always have some tp on hand when you travel! (PS… around here in the dollar stores you can buy this stuff that looks like a gum pack but they are cloths … you add water to it and it unrolls to make a wetwipe!)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Turkish toilets? Ah man.. thankfully no. But it was common to wash your hands with water in India after a potty run. I just couldn’t do it. I bought TP where ever I went. BUT I wish I knew about them gum pack cloths!! Sounds cool!

  • Kyla Rose West Morden

    Did you run into the turkish toilet wash as you go situation? A lot of the squatty potties I’ve seen typically don’t have toilet paper, but rather a running hose in the back you are expected to lift and use cold water to wash yourself with and then drip dry… tmi? Sorry >. < I don't mind using them but it is nice to always have some tp on hand when you travel! (PS… around here in the dollar stores you can buy this stuff that looks like a gum pack but they are cloths … you add water to it and it unrolls to make a wetwipe!)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Turkish toilets? Ah man.. thankfully no. But it was common to wash your hands with water in India after a potty run. I just couldn’t do it. I bought TP where ever I went. BUT I wish I knew about them gum pack cloths!! Sounds cool!

  • Noah

    Great post and I love the blog! But damn! 14 hours on a bus with no bathroom break.. seriously? That would be absolutely impossible for me. How did you deal with that?

    My wife and I are leaving for our own RTW trip soon and while I’m fully prepared to be uncomfortable at times (for long periods of time) and to put up with things, not being able to relieve myself for 14 hours would be a deal breaker.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      sometimes buses will have a toilet where you can go #1, but those are the higher end buses where you’ll pay a little more for. Worth it in our opinion if you have the option.

  • Noah

    Great post and I love the blog! But damn! 14 hours on a bus with no bathroom break.. seriously? That would be absolutely impossible for me. How did you deal with that?

    My wife and I are leaving for our own RTW trip soon and while I’m fully prepared to be uncomfortable at times (for long periods of time) and to put up with things, not being able to relieve myself for 14 hours would be a deal breaker.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      sometimes buses will have a toilet where you can go #1, but those are the higher end buses where you’ll pay a little more for. Worth it in our opinion if you have the option.

  • OCDemon

    What’s annoying about those quick-dry towels is that they could be made to imitate the texture of a regular towel, but nope. Slick and weird it is.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ugh… I hated that slick feel. So weird and annoying for sure.

  • SnarkyNomad

    What’s annoying about those quick-dry towels is that they could be made to imitate the texture of a regular towel, but nope. Slick and weird it is.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ugh… I hated that slick feel. So weird and annoying for sure.

  • Tara

    Truth! Agree 100% with this list! Combine a squat toilet with food poisoning and your day just got worse. Or food poisoning with an overnight bus that rarely stops. Ahhh good times RTW 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ah man.. we need to catch up and share stories! Welcome back you two!!

      • Tara

        For sure! Thank you 🙂

  • Tara

    Truth! Agree 100% with this list! Combine a squat toilet with food poisoning and your day just got worse. Or food poisoning with an overnight bus that rarely stops. Ahhh good times RTW 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ah man.. we need to catch up and share stories! Welcome back you two!!

      • Tara

        For sure! Thank you 🙂

  • Ebony

    Man, latrines. Cockroaches. Mosquitoes. And sticking out like a sore thumb cause of that big ass bookbag. Bookbag straps smelling like hell from sweating.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ohh our daypacks were starting to smell like sweat. LOL TMI.. but true. Hahaha

  • Ebony

    Man, latrines. Cockroaches. Mosquitoes. And sticking out like a sore thumb cause of that big ass bookbag. Bookbag straps smelling like hell from sweating.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ohh our daypacks were starting to smell like sweat. LOL TMI.. but true. Hahaha

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad

    I love this post and relate to so much of it because I’m currently traveling through southeast Asia. I hate wearing my backpack and frontpack at the same time and getting food poisoning most of all I think though!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL.. transit days where you have to lug your daypack in front and full backpack in the back.. ahhh.. memories. Hahaha. Wishing you no more food poisoning days in SE Asia, A! Have fuN!

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad

    I love this post and relate to so much of it because I’m currently traveling through southeast Asia. I hate wearing my backpack and frontpack at the same time and getting food poisoning most of all I think though!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL.. transit days where you have to lug your daypack in front and full backpack in the back.. ahhh.. memories. Hahaha. Wishing you no more food poisoning days in SE Asia, A! Have fuN!

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    OMG, this is a fab list of the really bad side of travelling. The bathroom arrangements are the worse for me. I really never want to compromise

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    OMG, this is a fab list of the really bad side of travelling. The bathroom arrangements are the worse for me. I really never want to compromise

  • Kat

    One thing I dislike about traveling, besides getting ill, is the free water in hostels in central america. Its great that it is free (usually) for refills but it is always warm and has no taste at all. I know, I know, water doesnt have a “taste” per say, but compared to bottled water or even tap water from the usa, this water was almost a task to drink!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Oh I know what you mean.. I can’t stand warm drinking water. Yuck! Lol..

  • Kat

    One thing I dislike about traveling, besides getting ill, is the free water in hostels in central america. Its great that it is free (usually) for refills but it is always warm and has no taste at all. I know, I know, water doesnt have a “taste” per say, but compared to bottled water or even tap water from the usa, this water was almost a task to drink!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Oh I know what you mean.. I can’t stand warm drinking water. Yuck! Lol..

  • Beth

    Everything on this list is so true!

    Somethings I dislike are the cockroaches and the warm water. It’s so hot in Hong Kong, sometimes I feel like I’m dying of thirst. I always forget when I order water at restaurants, that it needs to be boiled first, so it always comes out piping hot! Not what I want when it’s already 35C out!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea… warm drinking water is the worst! Especially on a hot hot day..

  • Beth

    Everything on this list is so true!

    Somethings I dislike are the cockroaches and the warm water. It’s so hot in Hong Kong, sometimes I feel like I’m dying of thirst. I always forget when I order water at restaurants, that it needs to be boiled first, so it always comes out piping hot! Not what I want when it’s already 35C out!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea… warm drinking water is the worst! Especially on a hot hot day..

  • Leah Travels

    I’m so happy you wrote this. Although I’ve not traveled quite like this, but I have to agree that travel isn’t always glamorous, even when staying in the lap of luxury. Transit days can be draining for sure.

  • Leah Travels

    I’m so happy you wrote this. Although I’ve not traveled quite like this, but I have to agree that travel isn’t always glamorous, even when staying in the lap of luxury. Transit days can be draining for sure.

  • Agness

    This is so true guys. I’m glad you mention these unglamorous moments everyone has when travelling. We hate being sick (Cez had a dengue fever in Cambodia, I was bitten by a toxic spider in China), layovers (my last one was at Moscow airport – 23 hours!!! and I slept on the freezing cold ground) and dirty hotels :), but it’s all worth it!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ah man, I wouldn’t wish dengue fever on anybody. Nor toxic bites for that matter. Glad you guys got through it. 🙂

  • Agness

    This is so true guys. I’m glad you mention these unglamorous moments everyone has when travelling. We hate being sick (Cez had a dengue fever in Cambodia, I was bitten by a toxic spider in China), layovers (my last one was at Moscow airport – 23 hours!!! and I slept on the freezing cold ground) and dirty hotels :), but it’s all worth it!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ah man, I wouldn’t wish dengue fever on anybody. Nor toxic bites for that matter. Glad you guys got through it. 🙂

  • lola

    such a great idea to show this!! i’m dreading flying the redeye tonight already!

  • lola

    such a great idea to show this!! i’m dreading flying the redeye tonight already!

  • Lazy Travelers

    oh man, this brought back soo many memories. you know, in a ptsd sort of way. travel days are the WORST and we would be soo dehydrated because we’d be trying hard to not have to pee. and don’t even get me started on the quick dry towels…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      OMG I totally forgot about the dehydrated part. We too drank little on transit days because we didn’t want to have to go pee! Ahhhhh… awful flashbacks!

  • Lazy Travelers

    oh man, this brought back soo many memories. you know, in a ptsd sort of way. travel days are the WORST and we would be soo dehydrated because we’d be trying hard to not have to pee. and don’t even get me started on the quick dry towels…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      OMG I totally forgot about the dehydrated part. We too drank little on transit days because we didn’t want to have to go pee! Ahhhhh… awful flashbacks!

  • http://www.theworldofdeej.com The World of Deej

    I think I could handle most of these, except for the bugs. The idea of something crawling on me while asleep scares the bejeezers out of me…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hahaha.. I know what you mean. The worst is hearing the buzzing noise fly by your ear in the middle of the dark.. Ughhhh

  • http://www.theworldofdeej.com The World of Deej

    I think I could handle most of these, except for the bugs. The idea of something crawling on me while asleep scares the bejeezers out of me…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hahaha.. I know what you mean. The worst is hearing the buzzing noise fly by your ear in the middle of the dark.. Ughhhh

  • Raymond Mettler

    Being sick on the road is one of the most common problems a traveler experienced. So, in order to avoid this problem before you plan to travel you need to get vaccination first. http://www.backcountrynavigator.com/

  • Raymond Mettler

    Being sick on the road is one of the most common problems a traveler experienced. So, in order to avoid this problem before you plan to travel you need to get vaccination first. http://www.backcountrynavigator.com/

  • K.T. @TheLifescape

    I think my favourite part about traveling the Vietnamese sleeper buses (asides from playing chicken with oncoming traffic whilst going up a mountain- next to a cliff- around a bend) was when our bus driver urinated into a plastic bag and FLUNG it out the window. We had no warning and the windows were down in the bus- Needless to say – I had my first (and last) GOLDEN SHOWER.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Oh noooo…. LOL. Sounds awful but hilarious at the same time. 😛

  • K.T. @TheLifescape

    I think my favourite part about traveling the Vietnamese sleeper buses (asides from playing chicken with oncoming traffic whilst going up a mountain- next to a cliff- around a bend) was when our bus driver urinated into a plastic bag and FLUNG it out the window. We had no warning and the windows were down in the bus- Needless to say – I had my first (and last) GOLDEN SHOWER.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Oh noooo…. LOL. Sounds awful but hilarious at the same time. 😛

  • TravelWanderings

    I love breakfast. But when I first land somewhere new I’m never able to figure the whole breakfast situation out until about noon. And noon, it ain’t no breakfast.

  • TravelWanderings

    I love breakfast. But when I first land somewhere new I’m never able to figure the whole breakfast situation out until about noon. And noon, it ain’t no breakfast.

  • http://www.loveantoinette.com/ Antoinette B.

    Yeah to this day I still can’t get used to those damn tek-towels! I won’t lie, I’ve “borrowed” fluffy towels from hostels and kept them for a few weeks just for the comfort. Then I’d smack some sense to myself, wondering why my backpack is so full all of a sudden. My bf and I recently rented a beautiful apartment in Paris for a week. Everything was perfect except one thing: the bathroom was the size of a closet with the shower over the toilet. My bf and I couldn’t stop cracking jokes and laughing about it for days on end… Oh the “joys” of traveling…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL don’t you love those European showers?! You can barely turn around in them. Hahaha..

  • http://www.loveantoinette.com/ Antoinette B.

    Yeah to this day I still can’t get used to those damn tek-towels! I won’t lie, I’ve “borrowed” fluffy towels from hostels and kept them for a few weeks just for the comfort. Then I’d smack some sense to myself, wondering why my backpack is so full all of a sudden. My bf and I recently rented a beautiful apartment in Paris for a week. Everything was perfect except one thing: the bathroom was the size of a closet with the shower over the toilet. My bf and I couldn’t stop cracking jokes and laughing about it for days on end… Oh the “joys” of traveling…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL don’t you love those European showers?! You can barely turn around in them. Hahaha..

  • http://thesupertourists.com/ Eileen of The Super Tourists

    I have to agree on every single one. The squat toilets though I was able to find a solution. I bought myself one of those female funnel thingies that help girls pee standing up. That made for a very convenient trip through a land of squat and just plain old dirty toilets.

    I prefer the beds when I travel though. I could be traveling for 3 straight weeks in a different bed every night and not have back problems but 1 night in my own bed in my own home and I wake up with lower lumbar pains.

  • http://thesupertourists.com/ Eileen of The Super Tourists

    I have to agree on every single one. The squat toilets though I was able to find a solution. I bought myself one of those female funnel thingies that help girls pee standing up. That made for a very convenient trip through a land of squat and just plain old dirty toilets.

    I prefer the beds when I travel though. I could be traveling for 3 straight weeks in a different bed every night and not have back problems but 1 night in my own bed in my own home and I wake up with lower lumbar pains.

  • Chris

    I agree there is nothing worse than being sick when travelling. I’ve been sick in Thailand and Indonesia, not good.

  • Chris

    I agree there is nothing worse than being sick when travelling. I’ve been sick in Thailand and Indonesia, not good.

  • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

    I don’t mind cold showers but I hate being sick while traveling.

  • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

    I don’t mind cold showers but I hate being sick while traveling.

Email
Pinterest