In the 6 weeks we have been back in the UK, we’ve often been asked “What were the highlights of your travels?” Its was only when two separate friends asked me … “So what were the low lights /worst parts of travelling?” that I smiled to myself.
People often think travelling is one constant holiday; a stress free existence of cocktails in the sun. In reality of course, it is not a holiday, you have to face many challenges, setbacks & stressful situations as you do generally in life. I recently read the blog Worst travel moments… by one of my favourite travel bloggers Dani from Globetrottergirls, and I thought I should be honest & share ours… so here they are:
Becoming ill in a 3rd World country
There have been several times we have been ill during our travels, each time has coincided with being in a 3rd World country. Despite poor hygiene, (probably half the cause of the illness in the first place) safe access to a doctor/medicine is your main concern as is finding out exactly what is wrong with you. A specific example for us was 6 weeks of illness in Nicaragua, caused by a parasitic infection. It is easier when only one of you is ill, but when both of you get hit, it can become a worry & quite depressing (often convincing yourself you have something far more serious than it really is).
Even a hospital visit in a ‘1st World’ country is stressful with the language differences & different environment. Try accurately translating a doctor speaking Spanish, discussing the outcome of a scan, whilst you are under pressure! 😉
Injuries on the road
Similar to the above, injuries are a normal part of life. However, dealing with a broken toe (Colin), swollen legs with an allergic reaction (through insect bites) & various cuts & grazes (I’m very accident prone) seem all the more worrying when you’re far from home.
When travel doesn’t go as planned
We have had numerous situations where we have missed buses, slept on airport floors or been misled (conned) by locals. Although we can laugh now, here are our favourites:
* waiting 5.5 hours for a bus (at the wrong bus stop)
* being in a queue for a ferry, with drunk, gun toting cowboys
* having someone be sick on you, on a hot crowded chicken bus
* not knowing where on earth you are heading (most of the time)
* sitting 5+ hours on a plane on a runway
* being conned by a hostel, then being threatened that they would call the police (& our stressful ‘escape’ by speedboat to the mainland)
It doesn’t matter however many times you notify your bank before leaving, your cards are going to get stopped! This is frustrating to say the least, but when you are in a village with only one cashpoint & all of your cards won’t work (you have no cash left & you need to pay for a roof over your head) it becomes more stressful.
Being in the middle of a National Emergency
Unfortunately our trip to Nicaragua was not only plagued by illness, but we also found ourselves caught in the middle of a nationwide Red Alert. Nicaragua sits on a major fault line that runs right through the middle of the country topped with a series of live & dormant volcanoes (2 tectonic plates overlay). Whilst we were there, there were two major earthquakes (although we only personally experienced a minor tremor). Specialists were brought in from across the World, as tests were done to measure the likelihood of a large quake (or a volcanic eruption). The Prime Minister declared a red alert & Red Cross mobile hospitals were set up across the country in preparation. The PM was on TV nightly, as citizens were warned to sleep outdoors; schools were shut & we were warned to avoid the coast in case of tsunami threat. Thankfully after nearly 6 weeks the alert was downgraded & people returned to everyday life.
For information on Nicaragua’s volcanos, see our blog:
However, putting these challenges aside, I would not swap the last two years for anything. That’s why we’ve decided to keep going for a bit longer.
Experiencing some of the sadness, cruelty & poverty in the World, focuses you on what is important & how lucky you are. A few minor problems you personally encounter travelling, are nothing in comparison with real suffering.
The positives of travelling far outweigh the few challenges we experienced. Anyway… drawbacks help you learn & develop your problem solving skills. 😉