Travel: The Things Nobody Warns You About

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We hear a lot about travel – from the dizzying heights of exploring somewhere new, to the awful lows of losing your bags or money along the way.

I’ve come to realise that there are also lots of things that happen when you travel that nobody ever warns you about; things that you can’t even begin to prepare for.

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Nobody warns you that you will feel so far away from everyday, ‘regular’ life that it will feel like it doesn’t even exist… and they certainly don’t tell you that this feeling can kick in as early as from the minute you step off the plane.

Nobody warns you about how you can feel completely at home in a place, but also feel like a complete stranger, all at the one time.

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Nobody warns you that you’ll grow so fond of people after even the shortest period of time, that you’ll feel physical pain when you have to say goodbye.

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Nobody warns you about the lethal combined jet-lag hangover.

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Nobody warns you that you will become a walking ambassador for your hometown/country… and that you’ll just have to embrace the stereotypes.

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Nobody ever warns you that you will always, always regret not having the balls to just take more pictures.

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Nobody ever warns you that sometimes the biggest communication barrier is that which exists between two people speaking the same language.

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Nobody ever warns you that temperature readings are almost totally meaningless without knowing what the humidity is.

Minus ten degrees Celsius in low humidity does not feel anywhere near the same as minus ten degrees Celsius in a place with high humidity does.

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Nobody warns you about falling in love.

Nobody ever warns you about how much you’ll both have to give up just to be together, or how desperately hard it is to see the other person give things up for you.

and nobody ever warns you about how few people will ever get that.

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Nobody ever warns you how much the little things people do to help you out along the way will mean, or how completely inadequate you’ll be at showing gratitude.

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Nobody warns you about any of this stuff, because if they did, you’d probably think twice about taking the risks in the first place.

but you should.

say hello: ~@stephenemm or ~Google+

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57 comments

  1. Sarah

    I feel like you’re living my life 2 years ago and I’m a bit jealous! I don’t miss goodbyes but I do miss the excitement and elation of times with loved ones on the other side of the pond. It’s a whole different experience once your travelling and home lives merge together!

    • Stephen McLeod Blythe

      Thanks Sarah. I’m hoping so! The fact you’ve been through it and are doing so well is pretty comforting hah.

    • Stephen McLeod Blythe

      Thanks Kerry. Let’s meetup soon when we’re back so you can meet the girl.

  2. Scott McGowan

    This is amazing man. Made me feel a bit emotional! Hope you’re having a brilliant time.

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  4. Gavin Colton

    “You’ll grow so fond of people after even the shortest period of time”
    Having moved away from home when I was barely 19 to America from Ireland this was something I would strongly agree with. Living how I do, travelling across the country during the summers I meet the most amazing people – I rarely get to know people well enough to ‘not’ like them. embracing stereotypes is also something I’ve had to get used to ‘the fighting Irish’ being my least favorite.
    The smallest of things people have done for me on my travels have also meant the world to me at that time.
    I also think that you are never told that no matter how much you long for home, you will always have itchy feet after experiencing the life you’ve had. Home never feels the same again.
    Great piece.

  5. Marie

    Love your assertion that “sometimes the biggest communication barrier is that which exists between two people speaking the same language.” Profound and poetic, a truth that extends far beyond the boundaries of travel.

  6. JJ Garrocho

    So true. I make a l living on the road during the summers. You captured my sentiments exactly. Thank you for this.

  7. Emily Josy

    Beautiful exploration of what the experience of travel can do to you. It is the harshest of teachers, and yet the gentlest of friends.
    No one ever warns you that a new place will define who you are, and leave you wondering who could be.

    Happy travels…

  8. Stonehead

    Nobody ever warns you how much the little things people do to help you out along the way will mean, or how completely inadequate you’ll be at showing gratitude.

    This is definitely the one for me. Having traipsed all over the place and got myself into many a pickle, whether minor or major, it was the kindness of strangers that saved the day on many an occasion. Mind you, what goes around comes around so I’ve always made sure I help other travellers, too.

  9. allthoughtswork

    This is so good, and it dawns on me how perfectly this applies to people who move their home around a lot, too. The army brat who’s been to twenty schools before college, the regional sales manager who’s changed towns half a dozen times since her twenties while she moves up the corporate ladder, the overseas English as a second language instructor who’s also trying to finish writing a novel. Interesting lives.

    Thanks for posting, most informative.

  10. Your Regular Movie Guy

    “Nobody warns you that you’ll grow so fond of people after even the shortest period of time, that you’ll feel physical pain when you have to say goodbye.” This is very much true. During the past, there are no way to stay in touch with some people after you have left them. Fortunately, there’s a lot of social media sites today. You just need to send friend requests to someone and you’ll stay connected for years.

  11. E.

    Brilliant, beautiful, and now I want to hop on the next plane headed across the ocean.
    Happy travels!
    E.

  12. Carolyne

    I suppose I could say I’ve given up my daughter for you, but that’s not really true. All parents should want their children to see the world, have some adventures, move on so as to grow, and it’s a big bonus if they also fall in love. Grace has been given the chance of a Big Adventure – way bigger than Pee-Wee’s!
    Oh, and your glasses will be there in 6-10 days.

  13. Helen

    Amazing post – you totally made me travel-sick (is that a thing, it should be!) no body warned me about how sore my feet would get while sight seeing but nobody warned me about how awe-inspired I would feel when I saw some of the worlds greatest monuments! Love it!

  14. Sheila

    You took me back to the Hobo years of my miss-spent youth. I hardly remember the bad times, like getting boils and certain toilets, always the partings, there were so many good times.. Thanks,never settle.

  15. Judy

    “Nobody warns you about how you can feel completely at home in a place, but also feel like a complete stranger, all at the one time” That one sums up travel for me. There’s nothing like travel when you’re at home and nothing like home when you’re travelling.

  16. Valentine

    Wow, I could relate to so much of your message! No one ever tells you that the rules are different when you leave home, that often it’s better for you to talk to strangers instead of avoid them, that there is some serious and singular magic that happens when two lone travelers meet and connect at a whirlwind pace, that some of other braver version of yourself is unlocked, the one who will change plans on a whim and trust so instantly in humanity. Great article!

    -Valentine
    Flux: Encountering Adulthood
    http://www.fluxforum.com

  17. Danielle

    Love this! I always feel like time is going to fast and too slow at the same time – an odd feeling. And yes, it is hard to get over the slight embarrassment of looking like a “tourist”, but take the damn pictures. Phones do make it easier!

    • Stephen McLeod

      ‘take the damn pictures’

      Hah, I’ll genuinely hear these words ringing in my ears the next time I feel wary of doing so. Thanks for commenting :)

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  19. Niña

    “Nobody ever warns you that sometimes the biggest communication barrier is that which exists between two people speaking the same language.” This irony is the best! (And true.) But I can mostly relate to the falling in love part. ^__^

  20. Annastasia

    “Nobody warns you that you’ll grow so fond of people after even the shortest period of time, that you’ll feel physical pain when you have to say goodbye”

    This could not have been more true of my recent trip to the States. It’s amazing that the friends you meet whilst overseas are a different breed to when you are home. I think it’s because you’re both sharing a common interest; travel!

  21. Tony

    Hey, travel is so great, and yes to all the things you say. Also, no-one tells you that your job is to be a tourist and look at and get to know people, and to be fleeced by the local populace, and to sometimes meet bad people just as you could easily do at home. Take the good with the bad, pour yourself another gin and tonic, get on with it. Travel broadens the mind. Tony

  22. Claire Fellingham

    I definitely relate to this. Especially “you’ll grow so fond of people after even the shortest period of time, that you’ll feel physical pain when you have to say goodbye”. Some of my greatest friendships are with people I met travelling and it is so painful to be on the other side of the world to them.

  23. Hercules

    Love the style of photos in this little piece, the one of the two girls is superb, I like the strong colours and the use of grain.
    All the best

  24. Hercules

    The more I look at it the more I like the photo of the two girls, quite the best photo i have seen in ages, not just the subject but the way it has been processed. Do you mind if i use it in my blog as a photo in ‘Other peoples photos i like’
    Thanks

  25. Mike

    Sorry, in my last comment I mistyped the email address it should be as above. Love the style of your night club photos, love the two girls above, both the subject and the way you have processed it. Can i use it on my blog listed under ‘Other peoples photos I like’
    Thanks
    mike

  26. kevin

    Nice post! There are definitely more nuances to travel than meet’s the eye – and you capture these well.

  27. Andie

    Wow, this was a great insight into the other side of travelling which, just as you said, you rarely hear about! And particularly relevant to me at the moment since I am hoping to go travelling this year (no idea when or where) – at least now I’ll be a little more prepared!

  28. Zhang

    Original and mind-blowing. I tried to comment at WordPress, but was blocked, that’s how I get here.

  29. Divya.S

    “little things people do to help you out along the way”, Gawd, how I have tried to let them know it meant a lot, but always ended up doing nothing more than mentioning them in a blog or facebook. Good things happen when you travel but you cant bring them all back to your ‘regular’ world, so I understand.

  30. Lucy Ruthnum

    Such a poignant piece for me to read while planning my travels for next year, but this , as in everyday life, there are trials and pains alongside the beautiful and good moments – it isn’t enough to put me off. In fact, it makes me want to experience it more!

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