Travel Setbacks: 7 Things I Don’t Look Forward to When Travelling

Travel Setbacks: 7 Things I Don’t Look Forward to When Travelling

When your adrenaline says, “go, go, go,” but your jet lag says, “no.”

All of the reasons I love travel can fill up an entire book and maybe a semi-autobiographical movie about how travelling has helped me live my truth, à la Eat, Pray, Love. But while a life on the move has its perks, I can also think of some travel setbacks that I would much rather do without. 

And so, here are the rare things that I don’t look forward to when travelling. Or, as I like to call it, those times when your adrenaline says, “go, go, go,” but your jet lag says, “no.”

Also read: Travel Burnout: It’s a Real Thing

1. Long-haul flights

travel setbacks: long flights

Long-haul flights can be really pleasant — ice cream for dessert, a miraculous upgrade to business class, and a famous celebrity sitting beside you. But more often than not, they are straight-up terrible, and you can’t help but imagine a world in which armrest hoggers and wailing babies travelled on a separate plane. 

Early on, you think, “Hey, this might actually be a pleasant flight!” Only to discover that you’ve jinxed it. And just like in your worst nightmares, you’re now seated next to people who have never heard of this thing called basic human decency. The noisy kid who can’t stop kicking the back of your seat. The seatmate who just coughed their influenza straight into your face. And let’s not forget the passengers who, for some reason, think it’s a good idea to put their feet up — on the tray table! Why, oh, why have we not invented teleportation yet? 

Also read: 6 Foolproof Tricks to Help You Survive a Long-Haul Flight

2. Jet lag

Ah yes, jet lag. My old nemesis, we meet again.

Jet lag is that pesky souvenir you don’t intend to bring home with you. Sadly, due to the abrupt change in your sleeping patterns, your internal body clock still hasn’t fully caught up with the fact that you’re in a different time zone. Now, you find yourself floating in a murky space between extreme wakefulness and exhaustion. Part of you still feels like the night is young, even when it is already half past midnight. You feel a sudden urge to do everything at once. Then, out of nowhere, you’re out like a light. Somehow, you’re stuck in two places at once. And as your body crashes into a fugue state, you ask, “Who am I?”

3. Sickness

Adrenaline can take you to many far-off places, but one of the most lethal travel setbacks is succumbing to illness. Catching the flu or getting food poisoning can happen even to the best of travellers. Worse, poor health can drag any trip to a screeching halt. Getting so sick that you need to find a doctor in a foreign country — I shudder to think about it! 

Forgetting to drink enough water, neglecting to eat, and not getting enough sleep — these are some of the bad habits you should throw away if you don’t want your health to pay the price. As always, be sure to listen to what your body is telling you and take a step back when you are pushing yourself too much. Don’t wait until all the headaches and dizziness catch up with you and converge into one vomiting session at a cafe. (Yes, this is speaking from experience!)

4. Packing and overpacking

travel setbacks: packing

Packing should feel exciting, especially when you are gearing up for the big day of your departure. And most of the time, it is! 

But the horror that seeps in when you realise you brought three sweaters and a heavy jacket — none of which you ended up using — and that you still have to carry your hulking suitcase across multiple cities? All of that weight can wear you down, for sure. Not to mention the hassle of having to constantly repack your things, again and again, while you add in your pile of souvenirs. Even if you packed light in the beginning, the baggage you carry with you on the way home tends to be a different story altogether.

Also read: Overpacking Woes: 6 Struggles of a Traveller Who Can Never Pack Light

5. Tiredness and fatigue

Sometimes, I return from a trip feeling like I’m just about ready to trade my soul for two weeks of sleep. Just me and my bed, living peacefully together forever. 

Alas, feeling tired and worn out after a trip is one of those travel setbacks that are difficult to avoid. Even with trips that are intended to be vacations, it can be hard to get a fitful rest when there’s just so much to do! There comes a point when the lack of sleep catches up with the body. And I know that I’m reaching my limit when my bones feel like they’re ready to collapse and my feet ache as if they’ve just walked off the face of the earth. 

6. Spending too much

Speaking of travel setbacks that I don’t look forward to, here are the famous last words of every traveller: “It will be worth it.” 

Knowing how much money I spent is enough to make me want to curl up in a corner and rock myself back and forth. When I look at the receipts scattered on my table at the end of a trip, I realise that I have very little left after burning a hole through my wallet. And I’m still not sure if it was completely worth it? 

Mourning over the cash that was lost to shopping — and let’s face it, a few tourist traps here and there — produces a mixture of pride and shame. A simultaneous feeling of finally, I have enough teacups to last for a lifetime and wow, did I really need all of this? 

7. Homesickness

travel setbacks: homesickness

I used to be the kind of person who never felt homesick no matter how far she travelled. Maybe it was the excitement of being somewhere new, but a longing for home hardly seemed to faze my younger self.

However, the older I get (and gosh, do I feel old just saying this), the more I find myself looking for gentle reminders of home: All the familiar sights, faces, and rituals that would give me comfort. It took me a long time to realise that feeling homesick didn’t mean that I was ungrateful. Rather, I can immerse myself in a location and still miss the sense of balance that comes with being in a place that I know, and in turn, knows me. 

There are days when it seems that I can run purely on an engine of adrenaline. And then there are days when living out of a suitcase and enduring the chilly stares of immigration officers begin to lose their charm. I wake up in a lonely room and find myself missing all sorts of random things, like the smell of fresh rain in the morning or the taho that I would rely on to kickstart my day back home. Pensive thoughts like these will usually have me checking the messages on my phone or searching for the nearest Asian restaurant in my vicinity, hoping to gorge on bowls of rice — if only to feel a little closer to home. 

Also read: Homesickness Everywhere: A Traveller’s Disease

That said, don’t let these travel setbacks and minor grievances put you off from a great adventure! When you look at the bigger picture, the joys of travel outweigh the bad. And the glorious sights that you see are usually worth every cent. 

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary.

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