The Negatives Of Traveling (& How To Avoid Them)
Confession time: I hate travel.
I came to this shocking revelation during our trip to the ecotourism paradise of Dominica last week, during our 13th hour of transport from our home in Atlanta to the gorgeous but remote Rosalie Bay Resort. We’d driven an hour from our house to Mary’s mom’s (where we dropped off our car) to the airport; flew for several hours via Delta to Puerto Rico (where we had a 2.5-hour layover); caught a 90-minute flight on a hot, overcrowded Liat Airlines shuttle to Antigua; a 30-minute flight on another hot, overcrowded Liat Airlines shuttle to Dominica; then an hour-long drive from the airport to Rosalie Bay.
By the time we got there, we honestly didn’t feel like moving at all for a week. Suddenly I understood why some travelers just want to lie by the pool with a good, strong drink and soak up some rays. But of course exploring a country, learning about its culture and interacting with its people is the aspect of travel we enjoy the most. If only someone would invent teleportation, we’d travel all the time!
But the aches, pains and annoyances of constant motion in cramped conditions (I’m 6’2” and built like a linebacker) are hardly the only negatives of frequent travel. Here are a few of our least favorite things about traveling an average of 10 days a month, and some of the things we do to lessen their impact:
MISSING SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Twice recently, we’ve realized our travels would cause us to miss major events in our friends and family’s lives. While we were in Dominica, we missed a 35th birthday celebration for my buddy (and GGT’s Senior Editor) DeMarco. When we’re in Churchill, Manitoba on a polar bear expedition with Natural Habitat later this year, we’ll be missing my cousin Brandon’s wedding. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that, if you travel a lot, you’re going to miss out on things. But when we’re home, we make our family and friends a priority. We try to never miss a family gathering (often going to two in one day on special holidays), and we never travel during Thanksgiving or Christmas. And when travel does force us to miss something, we always reach out to let the hosts know how important they are to us, and how sorry we are we can’t be there. The key is not getting so wrapped up in your own life that you forget the impact it has on others.
BECOMING DISCONNECTED FROM FRIENDS
Traveling regularly seems to create an almost invisible barrier between you and some of the people you were once closest to. While you’re off galavanting around the world, they’re at home living normal lives, working hard to pay the bills. Travel once a year and they’ll want to hear all about it, but travel once a month and they’ll get sick of hearing about your adventures abroad. On more than one occasion, jealousy has reared its ugly head, but even if it doesn’t it becomes difficult for some people to relate to the left-of-center lifestyle you’ve chosen. Unfortunately, it’s a part of life that people tend to drift apart as their interests diverge. But one of the things we love about travel is the opportunity to connect with new people, from fellow travelers and passionate guides to locals who share similar interests in nature and wildlife conservation. Where once we had a ton of friends in Atlanta’s improv comedy scene, now we have friends of all stripes located all around the world!
MISSING MY DAUGHTER
The hardest part of frequent world travel is being away from my daughter, Alex, and our dog, Huckleberry. When we’re home, our little family is extremely close and we spend lots of time hanging out on our pontoon boat at Lake Allatoona, shooting hoops in the yard, and just generally being silly together. So when we’re gone for 7-10 days at the time, it sort of feels as if there’s a part of us missing. Fortunately, the technological age has introduced numerous methods for staying in touch when we’re apart: At the end of our trip to the Galapagos Islands (where we had no phone or WiFi service for a week), getting to video chat with my daughter via Skype from the hotel in Ecuador was so amazing I actually got teary-eyed. It’s amazing how just a brief 3-5 minute conversation with her can make the hassles of travel seem more bearable.
Like a lot of people in their late 30s and early 40s, Mary and I have dietary issues that can become problematic in a foreign country, where you have less control over your diet and (in our case) schedule. Strangely enough, our issues are diametrically opposed: I have high blood sugar, while Mary has low blood sugar. At home, we deal with this by using Splenda in everything and eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day to ensure Mary doesn’t get light-headed and dizzy. But when you’re constantly on the go in a foreign country, it’s not always easy to find the things you need. So now, we pack always extra Splenda for our coffee, sugar-free drink mix (which also has extra vitamins and fiber), and easily portable snacks such as nuts, trail mix and low-sugar protein bars. They barely take up any space in our bags, but these little comforts of home make a WORLD of difference in the way we travel.
WORKING WHILE TRAVELING
We are not long-term, RTW travelers, and I doubt we ever will be. Like most people, we have a house, a car, bills to pay and mouths to feed. In addition to running Green Global Travel, I’m also a full time freelance writer and Mary runs a side business selling things on Amazon. So when we’re traveling, we’re also working, trying to maintain GGT’s amazing growth momentum while also continuing to generate income. Basically, this means that we’re often working 12-hour days when we’re traveling, and even then we’re still not getting everything done. Fortunately, we’ve built up a great support team. DeMarco writes stories, helps manage our writers and uploads posts when we have no WiFi access. Our staff helps us with managing our social media networks, ensuring that we’re still RTing and sharing great stories from other travel, eco and nature conservation sites. Together, they help us keep the site chugging along even when we can’t be as hands-on in running it as we’d like. All of which makes coming back from our travels and returning to “normal” life SO much easier! –Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett