Travelling is awesome. It is life enhancing, emboldening, empowering, enlightening and just downright incredible.
However, it isn’t always great. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. But the hard things don’t often get talked about.
Here are 9 disadvantages of travelling you should know about before you go.
People always talk about the good stuff when it comes to travelling.
And that’s fair enough- after all, it is pretty amazing. I wouldn’t write this blog if that wasn’t true. I love to travel and absolutely think that everyone should do it.
But it isn’t fair to promote all the positives without mentioning some of the disadvantages too. The good massively outweighs the bad stuff, but there is definitely bad stuff worth knowing about!
So, for the sake of fairness, here are 9 of the main travel disadvantages.
1. Travel is insanely addictive
There’s a reason people talk about the travel bug. It exists- I can vouch for it.
You go away once, sample all the incredible opportunities and experiences that travelling offers, and get hooked (read about how this happened to me!).
Now, this might not sound like a disadvantage. And in some ways it isn’t. In fact, I love how addictive travel is.
But it has a funny way of affecting your ‘home plans’. Notions of career and plans for family get side lined in exchange for the next hit of foreign adventure that you can get your hands on.
And, like any addiction, it pangs when it isn’t indulged and has its own set of troubling withdrawal symptoms.
Frankly, home life doesn’t feel the same (more on this later); life, for a time, isn’t as vibrant…the call of foreign lands is intense and all consuming.
2. Travel isn’t cheap
This disadvantage is stating the obvious, but money tends to be an issue for almost all travellers. Travelling to far away destinations and going for some time without an income can get expensive.
And, though travel on a budget is always possible, the pressure that travel puts on your pockets is undeniable. When travel becomes a priority, it requires sacrifice in other areas of life and forces you to live differently.
Again though, there’s a silver lining to this. After all, that very same sacrifice will lend an ever greater poignancy to your trip: whenever you put effort into something you tend to value it more.
But it will undoubtedly use up your savings, leave holes in your pockets and shrink those once bulging nest eggs.
3. Your career gets delayed and people move on without you
Everything keeps moving at home while you’re away having the time of your life. Life moves on, people get married, move home, get promotions, have babies…
You get back from travelling and suddenly those awesome experiences get pushed into memory; you’re confronted with a reality where your peers are a year (or more) ahead of you in their careers, earning more money, in higher positions; maybe they’re already reaching the goals you once had for yourself.
For the competitive go getter, this can be a tough pill to swallow.
Of course, there’s no replacement for life experience and you’ll have that in abundance. What you do when you travel is life changing and progressive in all manner of ways.
But when you’re slap bang back home, confronted with reality, with your adventures (until the next one, at least) behind you, it can be hard to see how people have moved on ahead.
Read more about why I hate the traditional path through life.
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4. Usual habits and routines are difficult to maintain
You’re at home, you have a set routine and structure to your day. You know what to expect and enjoy the regularity of things.
If nothing else, travel is a brilliant way of upsetting this. And maybe that’s a good thing- we could all do with mixing things up every now and again, right?
But what if you’re into your gym and used to going 5 times a week? Or have specific dietary requirements? Or sporting or academic goals? Or you need a particular amount of sleep to properly function? The list goes on…
Sometimes habits and routines are helpful. Travel, with its irregularity and unpredictability, can make these hard to uphold.
5. Travelling is tiring
This travel disadvantage is impossible to be overstated!
Travel, above all else, is often utterly exhausting. You’ll be moving a lot, frequently. You’ll be doing new things every day, absorbed in novel environments and sensory experience.
Your brain will be working in overdrive to take it all in, plan ahead, overcome challenges, avoid danger and keep you safe. All of this is tiring at physical and mental levels.
6. You will be physically, mentally and emotionally pushed
In a similar way, travel will challenge you at all sorts of different levels.
You’ll be doing new things, feeling lonely at times, homesick at others, and frequently out of your comfort zone. You’ll have to be brave, face up to your fears, confront personal demons and take countless steps into the unknown.
Physically, mentally and emotionally, travel can be tough.
Of course, this is exactly why travelling is such a great self-development tool. Travel will change you in fundamental, positive ways (see below) and this is almost entirely due to overcoming the challenges it throws at you.
But that doesn’t make it easier in the moment! If possible though, whenever you’re struggling on the road, take it easy, be self-compassionate, accept what’s going on, stay present and know that the struggle will be positive in the long run.
7. It can be lonely and homesickness can hurt
Alone, on the other side of the world (or even in a group), loneliness is often an unwanted visitor. It can creep up on you and make your days feel pretty bleak.
Homesickness is loneliness’ bullish big brother and can quickly compound things.
It is absolutely natural to feel lonely and homesick on the other side of the world. I mean, consider what you’re doing! You’re literally away from all the people you know and love, stepping into the unknown and taking a big leap of faith.
You’re bound to feel lonely at times. You’re bound to feel homesick at times. Know that it is totally natural, and that it will pass, like wave, in time.
8. Coming home is hard
One of the biggest disadvantages to travel is that you have to come home! I mean, the obvious issue is that you’re no longer having the time of your life, out on the road.
However, coming home is hard for other reasons too. You’ll be back and it will all feel the same. You feel completely different (see below), but home does not. After utter independence and total adventure, you’re back to the same four walls; the same faces, the same routines.
The same day to day of a home you left behind however long before. After travelling, this can feel unbearable.
The feeling is one of longing to be back out there, frustration at the banality of home, a general malaise and sensation of un-belonging.
Getting home from travels is never an easy process.
9. You won’t be the same when you get back
I’ve mentioned this final travel disadvantage a couple of times already, but it is so true that it’s worth going into in more detail.
Go travelling and you’ll almost certainly feel like a totally different person when you get back.
Again, in almost every way this isn’t bad. It is a sign of how profound travel is and you’ll find that you’ve changed in wholly positive ways.
But it is disconcerting.
Indeed, you might be unaware that you’ve changed until the moment you’re home and the hubbub of your return has died down. Then it’s like a slap in the face: you get home and feel utterly out of place in what should be a familiar environment.
It can take some time to get your head around.
And there you have it: 9 disadvantages to travelling. In no way whatsoever should these put you off going. Indeed, I actively hope they haven’t!
But in the interest of knowing what you’re getting into, I’d say they are definitely worth keeping in mind. And, to be honest, there’s no saying for sure whether you’ll experience the same issues! After all, everyone’s experience of travel is different.
Go have an adventure, revel in all the wonders it will place in front of you and embrace the negatives that go with them. In almost every way, there’s a silver lining to them anyway!