Barry Evans / @ 8:12 a.m. / Growing Old Ungracefully

GROWING OLD UNGRACEFULLY: Travel Blues


If you’re away from home – whether for a week, a month, or a year – sooner or later, you may face the Travel Blues. Here are my hard-earned suggestions for common afflictions that occur on the road, based on 60 years of traveling experience.

Budhanilkantha, Nepal (All photos by author).

Exhausted: Often the result of long bus or train rides, when just walking around feels like an effort.

Be as a leaf in the stream, don ‘t fight it. Travel IS tiring.

Disoriented: First day or two in a new country, especially in a city. You’re overwhelmed.

Do nothing, hang out, find somewhere relaxing (café, guest house, hotel lobby), walk around a small area, like a square block.

Too many touts: No jokes left, just irritation.

One good “No!” does the soul a power of good.

Ba’albeck, Lebanon.

Exaggerated fear of theft: Checking and re-checking hotel windows, doors repeatedly. (Two types of lock: your padlock and their key in the door). FIX

Be realistic: you may be robbed! Put emergency stash in separate place. Keep photocopy of passport and ticket there too. Carry two visa and ATM cards, ditto. If two of you, keep each other’s copies. Keep two $20 notes in back pocket, to give up if you’re threatened. Remember that hotel staff are very unlikely to pilfer (—it’s only happened once in years of travel).

Loneliness: No one with whom to connect, to share experiences or frustrations.

Distract yourself with a good book. Usually, it will pass.

Galapagos Islands.

Health paranoia: You get the runs once and imagine it’s amoebic dysentery (at best!)

More often that not, your amazing body will take care of you. Headaches are symptoms, not illnesses. Usually rest and sleep will do the trick. Plus curd/yogurt. And soda water.

Counting the days: Soon I’ll be home, back to safe and predictable and familiar.

If you really want to go home, calculate what it would cost to change your flight. Just knowing that if things got really bad, there’s an out, will help.

Nickel and diming: Worrying about paying for a 150 rupee rickshaw and walking two miles in the hot sun to save $1. (I found myself waiting for a “bus-of-dubious-existence” in Sri Lanka, instead of taking a $6 taxi to see a wonderful waterfall.)

Give yourself $100 to just blow.

Varanasi, India.

Being taken: “I’ve just spent more than I should have, I was taken.”

And you will be, again and again, it’s part of traveling. Especially someplace new, while you’re trying to get oriented. Comes out of the $100.

Near Mandalay, Myanmar.

I await the advice of cooler travelers than myself (which is why it’s called “Country Club”).


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