The Not-So-Glamorous Side of Travel

Look on Instagram, or Facebook, or Youtube, and it seems like every traveler is living a life of incredible luxury, jet setting around the world and relaxing on deserted beaches. While that is part of the experience, it’s definitely not all of it.

I’ve written on my own blog about why I share embarrassing experiences, but as they say, sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words. So here are 13 photos and anecdotes that show the embarrassing, tricky, and straight-up inglorious side of travel.

Wildlife

Missouri, USA

When you can’t find a place to camp in central Missouri, so you end up pitching your tent in a parking lot off the highway, and you spend the night being harassed by a pack of wild dogs. Honestly one of the scarier nights of my life.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

You gotta share your space with all manner of crazy creatures… like this HUGE gecko that lived in our homestay in Bali.

Plumbing

Ko Lanta, Thailand

When your toilet backs up and floods in the middle of the night in Thailand.

Ko Lanta, Thailand

You might have to end up sleeping in a hammock in the bar, after your room floods.

(Despite this unhygienic experience, me and my ex ended up staying at this particular homestay for three weeks. Find out why, here.)

Annapurna region, Nepal

When you travel, you regularly gotta deal with bathrooms that look like this, or worse. Watch out for the dreaded squat toilet.

Taganga, Colombia

When the toilet is a hole in the ground, the shower’s often not much better than this. And Hot water? Good luck! In some places, like Benin, your shower is a bucket.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Doing dishes in the bathtub in Bali. Gotta clean ’em quick, or you wouldn’t believe the amount of ants they attract.

Laundry

Ubud, Bali, indonesia

The joys of laundry on the road. You will have a whole new level of appreciation for electric dryers.

Taipei, Taiwan

Trying to figure out how to work a combination washer/dryer when everything’s in Chinese. We never really did have *truly* dry clothes during this month.

Losing Things

Taipei, Taiwan

Try to get a replacement credit card mailed to you in a country where all the addresses consist of (what are, to you) unrecognizable squiggles. This replacement card arrived two days before we had to leave Taiwan… she’s crying serious tears of joy.

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

When you spend all night getting drunk with a woman talking about how she forgot her glasses in the last hostel… and then your hungover ass leaves your glasses at the hostel the next morning. Anyone swinging by Hostel Nina in Mostar, pick up my glasses for me, thx.

Sickness

Amsterdam, Netherlands

When you get the flu but still gotta try and enjoy your trip because the friend you’re traveling with is taking more than half his vacation days for the year and it’s January.

Goodbyes

Medellin, Colombia

And of course, the least fun and least glamorous part of long-term travel: having to say goodbye, again and again. No matter how many times you do it, it never gets any easier.

But despite all that…

It’s absolutely worth it. In fact, some of these less-than-glamorous moments are my favorite memories from traveling. After all — it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.

Have any moments of your own in this vein? I would love to hear about them in the comments. Readers have contributed some good ones already in the comments on my personal blog, this is youth, where this post originally appeared.

Always adventurous. Occasionally political. I write creative stories about life, love, climbing and travel. thisisyouth.org

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store