Six Things I Did Not Miss & Two I Did While Travelling For a YearJanuary 31, 2016
Long term travelling can be exciting and challenging. One thing that is hard to predict is what you may or may not miss from your daily life back home. Following are a few things I did NOT miss and a couple I did, as well as three things I continue to miss those wonderful days circling the globe.
I packed light and brought few clothes with me. Of the clothes I did bring, all were items I enjoyed wearing. With such a small selection of clothing from which to choose, each morning I could pick out my clothes for the day in ten seconds. While it may sound funny, the result was liberating and a simplification of life style. I didn’t have to think while getting dressed and I enjoyed every result. Plus, laundry became less time consuming with fewer clothes to wash. (Click this link to read what I actually packed for 11 months of travelling.)
Cheese & Dairy
Cheese was a staple in my diet before leaving the USA. Through sheer coincidence a French cheese shop was located three minutes from my Beijing apartment, but my craving for cheese seemed to disappear after living a month in China. Without consciously choosing, I seemed to stop eating dairy products in general. My dairy consumption dwindled to eating yoghurt and a carton of milk once a month.
I didn’t miss American foods and dishes in general. Perhaps one reason my cheese craving disappeared was my focus on local food. My diet altered considerably, but did not include Western-style dishes. Local foods were interesting, exciting, and delicious in China, Laos, Thailand, Turkey, Germany, England, and Scotland. I was open-minded to try new foods, such as tripe, frogs, and haggis all of which were fresh and tasty. While some of these foods were not typical of my American diet, I reckoned an entire local population couldn’t be wrong about whether something was good; I gave the local foods a try and expanded my palate in the process.
Driving a Car
For nearly eight months I did not drive a car. In no way whatsoever did I miss driving a car, repairing a car, buying gas for a car, or sitting in traffic within a car. Going car-free felt awesome! Using public transit and walking were my favorite modes of transport. Of course, when I returned to the USA, I did drive on a long road trip accompanied by my dog. (If you would like to read about my experiment of living in America without driving a car, click this link.)
While in China, I was on the other side of The Great Fire Wall and unable to quickly access social media in the USA. Getting around the fire was not especially difficult, but I quickly became accustomed to not using social media and rarely made the effort. The longer I went without using social media, the less desire I had to begin using it again. By the time I departed China, I’d lost any desire to be in constant contact with people not in my immediate surroundings and I didn’t seem to pick up the social media habit again. Apologies to my friends, but I felt like my brain was released from a lot of useless noise.
Loud voices from television announcers constantly telling me what to think and implying I should be outraged were not missed, nor were the mediocre acting, thin plot lines, or endless commercials. Being oblivious to any “reality” shows felt heavenly. After taking an extended break from television, all programming seemed pretty low in quality regardless of what the critics, or friends, told me when I tried to watch again. (You can read about my experience of giving up television back in the USA by clicking this link.)
Two Things I Did Miss While Travelling
Some travelers miss nothing during months long journeys and other folks long for all of the comforts of home. As for me, I missed two things during my travels.
The one thing I missed every day was my dog. He stayed with a trusted long-time friend so I knew he was safe. Nonetheless, I missed all of the funny things I associated with him–his snoring, tail wagging, and love of tortillas–as well as our daily walks through parks. I was very happy to road trip around the US with my dog for the last several months of my long term travelling.
While travelling, I never missed my bed. However, the first time I slept in my own bed after 11 months away, I realized I had missed the comfortable feeling of my mattress and the “ultimate sleep experience”. Zzzzzzzzz …..
Three Things I Still Miss About Travelling
Of course there are many things I miss about being out on the road on an extended journey. The experience never leaves me and my thoughts often return to the excitement I felt venturing around the planet. Below are three of many things I miss from the time spent on long term travelling.
Travelling provides a lot of stimulus. I awoke each morning with a sense of adventure, never knowing what might happen that day. This was a wonderful feeling. I am a person who grows bored with routine and being in the same environment every day. Every day was an adventure, whether it was small or great, such as becoming lost in Istanbul and exploring new streets or hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge and viewing nature’s powerful beauty with two travelers I met along the trail. I loved the feeling that anything might happen and feeling a fresh experience lurked just around the corner—perhaps making a new friend, finding a relaxing café, tasting an interesting food.
I had few obligations outside of those related to trip logistics or day-to-day living needs, such as food and housing. Prior to setting off on my trip, I handled most of my domestic obligations—set up automated monthly payments as necessary, forwarded my mail, leased out my home, took my dog to live with a friend. There were no work meetings or daily commutes to frustrate my day. I loved not having anything to worry about. It was a happy feeling to wake up each day and know I would only spend time on things I enjoyed. For four months I did attend intensive Chinese classes, but that was my only “job” during my travels and I loved learning the language.
While travelling I met many local people and many fellow travelers. Getting to know persons from different backgrounds and cultures was interesting and insightful. Conversations and situations could be unexpected and stimulating, sometimes even shocking while interacting with local persons. The experiences could be insightful, shine light on a blind spot, and cause me to examine my ethnocentric beliefs. Over the years, as I have experienced more and more diverse countries and cultures, I grow ever more confident in my conviction that people are the same all over the world.
How about you, is there anything you think/thought you can/can’t live without while travelling?
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