Not everything about backpacking the world is awesome, rosy, and wonderful. It can be really stressful, hard, and tiring (26 hour bus rides alone aren’t exactly fun) and often there are many things that happen on the road that frustrate me or make me want to pull my hair out. I’ve had my fair share of crying in taxis, missing flights, and sobbing goodbyes while globetrotting. And yes, I know and realize that most of the time traveling is amazing, and that the things listed below aren’t exactly serious global or everyday issues, but it is a true list of things that can be a little bit annoying while in another country. So for the sake of discussing the woes of a road-weary traveler, below is a summary of my ten least favorite things about traveling.
1. Cold Showers
It’s probably just me and I think I’m bit of a sissy about this, but I would choose warm water, even in a tropical location, over WiFi in my hostel any day. I may be Canadian, but that doesn’t mean I love freezing my… toes… off. If my shower is cold, I’m a little bit miserable, regardless of location or climate.
2. Slow WiFi
Have you ever tried to have an important conversation with your bank over Skype with slow WiFi? Or catch up with a family member or friend but constantly have them cut out and make the conversation impossible? Nothing drives me to frustration and anger more than this. Sometimes no WiFi is better than slow WiFi when you’ve seen how long you’ll wait just to load a photo or two on Facebook. Time wasted this way while traveling just isn’t worth it.
3. Cab Drivers Who Overcharge You
Occasionally there is no way around this, and it can be so frustrating knowing that your cab driver is overcharging you a ridiculous amount. Often, all the drivers team up in the local language to make sure you pay the price they want and sometimes you just have to as there’s no other way to get to your destination. You just have to suck it up and believe that karma will get them back for taking such blatant, outright advantage of the situation.
4. Food Poisoning
I admit it, I actually haven’t suffered from this one yet. I seem to have an iron stomach? (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself). Regardless, I’ve heard some pretty awful stories about backpackers on the road who have suffered a few stomach ailments, whether from bad food, unfiltered water, or just getting sick. One traveler I know had to jump off the bus in the middle of nowhere because he needed a bathroom so badly and they wouldn’t stop and wait for him. He had to hitchhike to the next town afterwards. It’s a funny story now, but not so funny for him at the time.
5. Leaving Stuff Behind
This one drives me nuts, especially because it’s my own fault. I try to be so careful but I often find that I leave little bits of me all around the world no matter how hard I try to keep it all together. More often than not, these bits tend to always come back to me, but sometimes, it doesn’t work out and my treasured travel items find themselves either in the garbage or with a new owner.
6. Bunk Beds
(and getting stuck with the top bunk)
Nothing makes you feel more like a five year old than climbing up the ladder to your bunk bed in a hostel dorm room. I remember loving the top bunk when I was a kid – it seemed so cool and high up. Now it’s just annoying to have to hop up and down constantly and even more so when you forgot to grab something on the way up top. I’ve even rock, scissor, papered over who got the bottom bunk because the top is so despised in hostels. Better than sharing a double bed with a stranger though.
7. Noisy Hostels
This one can easily be avoided by choosing your hostel carefully, researching in advance, or simply asking at reservation. I’ve spent more than my fair share of nights enjoying the bar and nightlife in these types of hostels and definitely contributed to the noise, but nothing is worse than when you aren’t a party-goer and are trying to get some decent sleep for your big trek in the a.m. All I can offer for advice? Join ’em, or throw some earplugs or headphones in to block out the noise. Just make sure you don’t miss your alarm clock in the morning.
8. Ignorant Travelers
I understand that you can’t always know everything there is to know about a country, but sometimes reading a little bit of information before you arrive in a country can stop you from sounding like a fool when you make some close-minded or ignorant comment about the people, culture, or place you’re in. Most travelers are very well educated, but occasionally you meet someone that just makes you cringe when you hear them try to have a political conversation or make some observations that are way off base or just uncalled for.
9. Missing Your Bus/Connection/Alarm Clock
Have you ever missed an important mode of transportation by less than five minutes? I have, and it’s awful and quite often expensive to fix (re: me crying in a taxi cab).
10. Saying Goodbye
I tend to bring this one up repeatedly, but saying goodbye to people, places, hostels, and fantastic memories is one of the hardest and most horrible things while traveling. It’s inevitable and always has to happen, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. The heartache that comes with saying a permanent goodbye is something that can take quite a while to heal.
I’m actually going to sneak an 11th one in here and mention people who eat your food in the hostel fridge. It’s labeled, it’s not your name, not your food, and definitely not anything you made, so why are you consuming someone else’s meal when you clearly know it’s not yours? That isn’t a rhetorical question either, I’d really like to know!
So there you have it, my list of things that I hate about backpacking. Disagree with any? Have a few more to throw on the list? Let me know below in the comments section. I’d love to hear what things or experiences you don’t enjoy while backpacking.