Warning: Side Effects of World Travel

by Marc on May 27, 2010

Sure, extended world travel is awesome, but before I go on trying to inspire people to sell everything and hit the road, maybe I should warn about a few of the side effects of such an adventure.

We experienced all of the following symptoms at one time or another during our round-the-world trip, and are still afflicted with some of them today. So consider yourself warned:

1. Difficulty Complaining

After a few months, we just learned to take things like dangerous streets & sidewalks, indecipherable signs, random transportation strikes, and sketchy different hygiene and safety standards in stride. After all, these things didn’t seem to trouble the locals.

So when we got back to where everyone speaks our language, the sidewalks are clean and level (and motorcycle-free), and there are hardly any lizards, bugs or rats in the restaurants, it was really hard to find anything to complain about.

2. Temporary Inability to Worry

There were a million things in our travels that didn’t go as planned. We got delayed, lost, scammed and otherwise confused in places where no one spoke our language. We missed a flight or two, lost some things, made mistakes – yet somehow everything always seemed to work out just fine. Not to mention all the terrible things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t.

I think having gone through all that has made it easier to deal with the continued uncertainties now that we’re back, though the effect seems to be wearing off a bit. Not enough to make me do something crazy like get a job, but enough to affect my sleep patterns just a little.

3. Permanently Altered Perspectives

This is probably the longest-lasting side effect of world travel. There are so many little things we will never look at the same way again: grocery stores, motorcycles, and toilet paper, for example. But it’s more than that – I think we actually see the world differently now. Some things we used to take for granted seem very strange. I’ll probably be writing a lot more about this in the coming months.

4. Uncontrollable Urge to Do It Again

Now that we’ve been back for almost a hear (yikes!), our desire to take off on another adventure is growing stronger with every passing day. I’m afraid there is only one cure – and it involves some packing. Unfortunately, it will probably be many months before we can do any serious traveling again, so¬† I guess we’ll just have to suck it up.

OK, I know these don’t really sound like bad things, but trust me: #3 and #4 can be a real problem if you’re planning to return to ‘normal life’ when your trip is over. There are probably other side effects I’ve forgotten to mention, too (maybe memory loss is one of them!), so if you know of any I’ve missed, please mention them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!


May 27, 2010 Adam

Haha, these are great. The last one is a very difficult side effect to overcome. We’ve been back for nearly 8 months, and I don’t think a day has gone by since that initial honeymoon period where we haven’t pondered how we can possible do it all again. Right now it’s just a matter of trying to put away money until we can come up with another plan. Good luck on getting back on the road. I know that there is just no way we are going to be able to go through life with 1-2 weeks of vacation a year. It’s just not possible, and we frankly won’t accept it.

May 28, 2010 Mihai

Marc, I really enjoyed all your previous posts but this was even better! Please expand #3 soon. All the best

May 29, 2010 Marc

Thank you, Mihai. I will do that!

May 28, 2010 Victoria

We are off in 5 months! But considering the amount of travel I’ve already done, perhaps I should say off again. What was it you were saying about #5?
Very smart new website btw

May 29, 2010 Marc

Thanks, Victoria! We are looking forward to following your family’s adventures. Stay in touch!

May 28, 2010 Catrell

We could not agree more. We’ve been back for about 7 months now and each day the to desire to dust off those backpacks grows stronger. The short little weekend or even week long trips just don’t seem to cut it.

May 28, 2010 Sherry Ott

Nicely put! #3 is one of the best gifts you can give yourself! I’m experiencing an uncontrollable urge to get back on the road – but trying to stave it off by doing some short trips…just not the same though! :)

May 28, 2010 Margaret Walton

You don’t need to go on an extended trip to experience these side effects. Even a 2-3 week trip to places such as Asia, South America, Africa or many others can leave you with these effects.

May 29, 2010 Marc

Quite true, Margaret!

May 30, 2010 carmen menza

I love your family motto – “suck it up”! it’s a good one. learning to take things in stride and not get too worked up about daily life. I really enjoyed reading this post and look forward to hearing you elaborate more on these subjects!

June 3, 2010 Amanda Arnell-Smith

Hi Marc, Love the new website design – awesome! This post makes me laugh – it’s so so true. We’re in the phase of 1, 2 and 3 obviously. I particularly like #1 – I’m now to the stage that if I get sheets that have been changed recently and a shower that clean water comes out of, even if it’s a trickle – I’m a very happy camper!! BTW we just did our first cruise- know why you love it so much – planning our next one…
Best wishes to you all.

August 10, 2010 Jan

Believe me that the urge never will leave you or your children. My two look for ways to travel every day of the week! I have to almost turn off a side of me not to figure out a way to get out of here!
We have been back for about 10 years. After my mother passes, there will be no excuse and the travel will begin in earnest again. AGGG!

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