Social media shows us one side of travel, but what does it really feel like to go on extended trips?
As we all know, especially my fellow millennials, social media is a piece of a much larger picture. When we open our apps, we see feeds littered with perfectly edited shots, or statuses of joy and delight, and of course the seemingly never-ending baby/engagement/wedding announcement.
There is little mentioned of hardships or struggles, and a serious lack of reality. Looking at all the seemingly perfect lives can lead to feeling insecure and unworthy. Yet it remains difficult for many of us (myself included!) to use this tool of connection and community to be open and honest about the harder parts of our experiences.
I’ve thought about this a lot as someone who is interested in making this blog a business and still can’t quite come up with an answer. Do we fear being a downer? A bummer? Is it too hard to be vulnerable? Are we afraid of letting others down? From a business perspective, are readers interested in seeing the negatives or down sides of the life we’re showing?
I don’t know the answers to any of these, but when we started Miles Less Traveled it was in the hopes of inspiring others to love what we love about travel. In order to do that, I believe we have to be honest about ALL parts of our experiences.
So here is one piece of our big picture: travel can be lonely, painfully lonely. Even as half of a couple, the missing space previously filled with friends, family, coworkers, and everyone from your daily life is loud and large. The simple fact of being around strangers who speak the same language is something that I had previously taken for granted.
Real talk, it just gets lonely sometimes.
Joe and I have had many moments where we looked at each other and said we were feeling homesick. Likely, we’ve experienced many more when we didn’t. It begins to wear on you after time on the road, and fray the edges leaving you burnt out.
Mostly, traveling as a couple is awesome. To see the world with your favorite human on the planet is beyond amazing. We are constantly reminding ourselves and each other how lucky we are to share it. But it also means that the opportunities we might have to meet new people and experience new cultures is filled by the much more comfortable and desirable option of spending time with each other. Often times, when feeling lonely, we decide to head home early instead of going to get a drink out on the town. I would not trade meeting new people for spending time on the road with Joe, it remains one of my favorite parts of this whole experience, but it does add to that feeling of loneliness at times.
One of my fears with posting topics like this is that it will look like I’m complaining.
Trust me when I say I KNOW how crazy lucky I am. To have the means and ability to travel in this way, and the incredible win of a partner who wants to do it with me, is not something that I take lightly. But I’ve been thinking recently that there might be room for both: I can be utterly grateful for this experience AND miss the people and things I love dearly when I’m feeling homesick.
So we decided to honor both. We are home in the East Coast for Christmas, and will continue on our travels after. There were a lot of personal factors involved, but most importantly, we needed a little family time. A week at home is just what the doctor ordered, and we’re sorely missing the cold weather for the holidays. Let it snow, let it snow! Well, except for when our flight back to Bangkok is scheduled to leave.
In short, I hope everyone has the chance to chase what they love with the person they love. The experience is truly beyond my wildest dreams. Still, I’m excited to hug my grandma.
Not interested in long-term travel? See these tips to maximize whatever time you have off.