WE WORLD TRAVELERS are a pretty interesting bunch. Having traveled solo since I was 16, I sometimes feel like Alice in Wonderland while walking the streets of a new city I’ve just settled down in. My daily struggles aren’t running out of milk or not being able to get out of my cozy bed in the dead of winter. World travelers have to face some pretty bizarre challenges on the daily. How many of those do you identify yourself with?
1. I keep seeing faces in my head, but can’t match them up with names or countries.
The other night, I was out on my evening walk by the beach in Barcelona, when a face of an older, dark skinned man with a huge coffee-stained grin popped up in my head. I saw the face very vividly, but could not for the life of me remember where I’ve met him or what his name was. It took two full hours of my brain slowly bringing forth sounds and phrases we’ve exchanged for me to figure out he owned one of the Dunkin Donuts at Copley Square in Boston. I used to see him every other day when he came to the bank branch I worked at for transactions. The upside of that though, is that you’ve always got something to occupy your mind and stimulate your brain to think visually.
2. Dèjá vu. ALL. THE. TIME.
It probably happens to me a dozen times a day. I walk by a gate in El Raval and in my head see the small gate at my ajarn’s house in Bangkok where I went to get a sak yant tattoo. Often, I walk by a bakery in Gràcia and it reminds me of the shop I used to go to as a child in Bulgaria to buy bread around 5 o’clock every afternoon with my grandfather. I can walk around the narrow streets of Ubud in Bali and see an antique shop that in my head looks like something I saw in Copenhagen. All these visions beg the question, can we really trust our reality? Try dealing with that on the daily.
3. I’m a food snob.
I’m not talking the “snails-in-butter-and-perfect-French” type, but I do insist upon foreign recipes be executed as closely to the original version as possible. If I’d like to make a pad thai in Boston, it won’t be the same as that delicious medley of fine noodles and spicy local vegetables I bought for $1,50 at a garage-restaurant in Thailand’s Bang Khlo neighborhood. It’s not the same eating fried fish with rice in a warung in Indonesia and eating it in an upscale Indonesian restaurant in Stockholm. Half of what makes the experience of food so enjoyable is the culture that accompanies it.
4. Skype dates are a nightmare when your friends are scattered all over the globe.
Every time I try to talk with my best friend in Sao Paulo or my old roommate in Denmark, it’s a pain in the ass. Though WhatsApp certainly makes it easier to communicate with friends in Germany, Spain and England, the connection often times sucks and Wifi can be unrealiable. To be honest, I do miss having all my friends across the street as I used to before I began traveling. On the other hand, I don’t have to pay for accommodation in over 16 countries, because there’s always a friend with a pull out sofa.
5. Food cravings are weird and hard to fulfill.
I mean sure, I could go get a pizza anywhere in the world, but it won’t be the same as pizza I’ve had in Italy. Same with pho and baklava. It’s even worse when I find myself craving Balinese suckling pig or Bulgarian banitsa. In those cases, I just give up and go for the universal comfort food — chocolate.
6. I turn into a price hawk.
I can’t even buy a bottle of water these days without comparing the cost worldwide. It’s much worse when it comes to rent. I’ve got a hard time accepting even a great deal on a room in Barcelona when I know I can rent something twice as large in Granada for the same money or hell, an entire studio in Canggu. Eventually, you suck it up and pay the price, but comparing standards of living is a daily battle.
7. I sleep talk in 3 different languages.
I’ve had former boyfriends make fun of me for mumbling nonsense in my sleep in Bulgarian, Spanish, English and sometimes Bahasa Indonesia. To that I say — don’t make fun and pay attention. You might learn something.
8. I don’t do any work at the office because I’m planning trips all the time.
Guilty as charged. The more you travel, the more insatiable your wanderlust becomes. It’s absolutely impossible for me to be staring at a spreadsheet for 8 hours when all I’m interested in is planning the daily itinerary for my next trip on Inspirock and practicing the fake cough that will get me out of work for one extra day.
Truth is that in most cases the way you lead your life determines your struggles. Though I can’t get a Bintang and a portion of suckling pig on the fly, I’d choose the travel life and everything that comes with it any day.