Every once in a while I seriously consider traveling long-term and never returning to the U.S. Of course, I would never actually do this because I would miss my family and friends too much. But there are also many other downsides to traveling that we often forget about. As amazing as travel is, there are some things about home that will always keep me coming back.
1. Western Food
Yes, foreign food is amazing. I didn’t think I would ever get sick of many of these cuisines. But sometimes you really just want the comfort of the foods you grew up with, like a New York pizza or even just a good sandwich. It’s rough to be stuck in a place where they don’t make it quite the same.
2. Established Friendships
OK, this one is a no-brainer. Sure, you’re meeting so many friends from all over the world and it’s great. But sometimes it’s nice to have a friendship that lasts more than a week or two (not including ongoing WhatsApp messages). And it can also get extremely tiring to go through the same small talk with new acquaintances all of the time. I get to the point where if someone mentions they are leaving the hostel within the next day, I find an excuse to end the conversation. I know it’s terrible, but socializing is exhausting!
3. The Basics
Traveling definitely makes you appreciate a lot of things you always took for granted. I miss being able to order delivery in NYC anytime I want, rather than having to brave the streets during a storm because the hostel doesn’t have a restaurant. I miss being able to find everything I need at the store. I miss being nearly certain I’ll be able to communicate with any given person during my day. Even more basically, I miss toilet paper and bathroom doors that lock. Oh, and then there’s also all the times I miss bathrooms period.
4. Material Things
It’s nice to be a minimalist, but sometimes I miss having stuff. I hate having to live out of a bag. I miss having a room that’s decorated to match my personality with nostalgic memorabilia rather than generic room after room. No matter how hot and tropical the country you’re visiting, there’s something cold about bare white walls.
5. Internet Access
There’s definitely something nice about taking a technology detox for a few days here and there. There are even days when I’m grateful that the WiFi doesn’t work and I’m forced to just relax. On the other hand, there are plenty of times when I feel isolated and disconnected from family, friends, and current events. More importantly, there are times when having WiFi could be a life-saver, like when your credit card stops working.
6. Personal Space
I stay in hostels and take public transportation 90% of the time when I’m traveling. I’ve also taken a few group tours. This means I’m usually in loud and overcrowded environments. Whenever I come back from a trip, I cherish my alone time. I spend a few days at home doing absolutely nothing before I’m ready to be social again.
People tend to think travel = vacation. Not true. At least not the way I (and most backpackers) travel. You’re constantly on the go. Waking up early for tours, hikes, or just to catch the sunrise. Racing around to catch the next mode of transportation. Even when you do have time for 8 hours of sleep, it’s still nearly impossible to make use of it. You’re bound to encounter a few inconsiderate hostelmates who like to turn the lights on in the middle of the night, play music without headphones, or are just simply loud.