There is always a lot of talk about the things people gain during travel: understanding of cultures, a new language, friends, and the sense of shame for having drunken sex with a girl the night before in a crowded dorm room. But, what people fail to mention is what we lose along the way.
No matter what you’re experiencing in life there is always going to be a mixed bag of good and bad. It’s just like a job. If only 20 percent makes you want to reach down your throat and pull your ass out through your mouth, you’re on the right track. With that mental image now on a continuous loop, let’s dive into what we lose on the road.
You tend to lose emotional attachment to things. A lot of the time this has to do with saving space in your backpack, which means choices must be made. The winner: the practical items. It’s not that you don’t care about what you have, or have been given, it’s that the with limited space and energy only the things that are necessary make the cut.
When moving from one climate to another or as the seasons change, you may start to think if it’s worth it to carry that sweater your mom gave you for Christmas – sorry mom. It was once cherished item you wore everywhere, but now it’s going to sit in your backpack. You start to wonder if it’s worth its weight.
If you’re ever thinking of buying a traveller a gift, make sure that it’s something practical to their lifestyle; otherwise, it will probably be given away – again, sorry mom.
You once thought the Ecuadorian wool zebra-stripped pants were a good idea, but once you hit the road it is ‘function over fashion’. You start to think less about your clothes and more of what you’re doing. Your sense of fashion fades as it’s one of the last things you think of in the morning.
There is no way I want to go hiking, take a bus or train in skinny jeans. Sure you look good in them, but having them ride up in the crotch for hours is not my idea of travelling comfortably.
Besides wanting to be comfortable, you start to realise, no one gives a fuck what you wear.
This conjures up all sorts of images of the stereotypical dirty traveller. Through no fault of your own, you may find yourself wavering in your daily cleaning regiment. There have been some times where I hadn’t showered in a couple of days. Not because I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t find one. I’ve ridden in the back of a pickup with things other than humans, and didn’t always have a chance to clean myself afterwards.
You have no other place to pinch one out than at the side of the road, or in an outhouse that looks like someone took a sledgehammer to the Crypt Keeper to release any and all the creepy crawlers you don’t care to think about.
Changing your clothes may also become a second thought. The smell test is usually a good measure if you need to wash, change, or toss out.
Everything can add up after a while to bad hygiene. It’s important to look out for some tell-tale signs: people avoid sitting next to you in public places or your dorm mates throw your shoes out of the room.
Sense Of Time
Have you ever woken up and wondered what day it is? What’s the farthest you’ve been off? When you’re on the road, knowing such trivial things like what day it is seems irrelevant. With no schedule to keep and no boss to report to, you get lost in the moment.
Of course, this moment can last for an hour, weeks or months. This becomes lower on the priority list. In the grand scheme of things, is it really important to know what day or time is it?
You don’t care and it doesn’t matter unless you have a flight or ferry booked. If this is the case, it’s probably best to know the date and time.
There was a girl I met in Ecuador. She had no clock, computer or watch. If she needed to be up in the morning, she asked someone to wake her. If she had to know what day it was, she just asked. She was almost completely free from the strains of time, and it showed in her demeanour and spark for life.
Something that we all take for granted. Every night when it’s time to retire for the day you complete your daily routine and lay your head to rest in your bed. This is a luxury the road does not offer. Every night you find yourself with a new sleeping situation or new roommates. This does not always translate into a bed either.
Out late the night before, and up early while fighting a case of cotton mouth and a headache to go spelunking. Trying to save a few extra bucks by taking the over night bus instead of getting a good night’s rest; in return, you get a baby’s head bouncing off your shoulder, bruises from the seat due to lack of suspension, and two large black circles under your eyes.
To add insult to injury, the bus has made a stop at a dingy station in the middle of the night, where you’re expected to rest until your next bus arrives within the next several hours. Good luck catching shut eye.
Any number of these take you out of the normal routine you’ve become accustom to and catapults you into uncomfortable situations that can only arise when you’re creating life experience.