That would be me. Yes, I am currently on the struggle bus because what most people don’t tell you about long-term travel is that it is no joke and it’s really, really hard. It’s both mentally and physically draining and exhausting in so many ways I did not/could not prepare myself for.
It’s the saying goodbye to a (now) close friend who just a few days ago (or more) was just a stranger. It’s the constant move from one place to another due to so many various reasons, but mainly because you have a visa time limit knocking on your back and you want to try and see as much of a country as possible. Which then also means being on the road for many, many hours every other day or so which is not fun any way you slice it.
It’s the constantly having to be “on” to be careful to not be in certain places at certain times and having to always watch your back and your belongings since you carry everything you have/need. It’s the weight of all those things you carry being such a headache and not being able to figure out what you can dump to make the bags lighter when switching between different temperatures (I have already bought/gave away/rebought warm clothes). It’s having constant arm and leg bruises from carrying said baggage and lugging it around on rickety “boats” and other forms of transportation.
It’s all those usual other travel adjustments of finding affordable, yet healthy food that (hopefully 🤞🏼) will not poison you, the constant language barriers, the always being looked at as a dollar sign and not just as another person, and a million other things that I could go on and on about.
And to be completely honest, it’s also due to the fact that my budget/funds I had set aside for this year is dwindling at a faster pace than I had envisioned and budgeted for and unless I win the lottery sometime soon, it’s finally being honest with myself about how I feel about where I am at with this and everything else. Being a solo traveler is much more expensive than traveling with a lover or a friend as there are no costs to split or rooms to share, it’s all on me, which I knew from the beginning. And it’s not as if I have not been frugal- I have slept in hostels 98% of the time and they have varied from pretty awesome to quite horrible. I am also not willing to stay at the cheapest places where bed bugs also enjoy their comfort and chances of things disappearing increases as well. I know if I really tried harder I could decrease my costs, but then I would miss out on so many of the things (motorbike tours, YOGA, cave tour, and more) that have made such a big impression on me or has made a memory I will carry with me forever. If there was anything I could change, it would be I wish I had more funds to stay at nicer places and not hostels all of the time and to actually do more of the things above, but it has been a balancing act of trade offs. That is to say, I don’t regret most of the funds I have spent (and spent so long saving up), except the ones that went to crappy hostels, bad food, or bad tours 😂🤷🏻♀️💁🏻♀️.
It’s less about being homesick, but I do know that not being there for my little sister when she had heart surgery (and some scary bad complications) a few weeks ago was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. Getting to talk to her after she came out of surgery was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I am her older sister and I have always been by her side and not being there for such a huge operation was really stressful, scary, and horrible for me and I know she probably feels the same. Even though my Mom and her kickass boyfriend were by her side, I was not and that was a real challenge for me. So I don’t think I would classify this as homesickness, but more of a triggering event?
I have finally come to a point where I can admit this is a whole lot harder than I had ever envisioned and a bit more expensive as well, but that this is also my journey and nothing is written in stone. This has been my journey all along and it has been so many things, at both ends of the spectrum.
I was chatting with one of my besties about this earlier today and she said “you simply can’t do it all and see it all. Honor yourself and your energy and needs. That’s all that matters not how many countries you check off. If you’re going to be worried and stressed the whole time then it’s simply just not worth it.” It was exactly what I needed to hear (thanks A, you are my rock!) as I was really not looking forward to leaving tomorrow to what was supposed to be Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh happens to be one of the most dangerous, corrupt cities in all of SE Asia and I kept reading so many firsthand accounts of things that happen there that I did not want to go. The only real reason to visit (so I have been told on many travel forums) is to see the Killing Fields and the museum. Well, I know history is very important, but after going to multiple similar museums during these travels and previous ones, I don’t know if I can handle yet another display of how horrendous human beings can be to one another. So why was I putting myself in a potentially dangerous situation to go see something I really didn’t even want to see??? Because that is what “everyone” does when they visit Cambodia. Well, I am done living for everyone else but myself, which is one of the many reasons I set out on this journey in the first place. So no Phnom Penh for me and I am totally OK with my decision.
However, my next big decision is what to do with the dwindling funds and increasing mental/physical exhaustion? Unfortunately they never seem to line up together, but I guess that is the way it is. When I did yoga in my favorite city in Laos (Luang Prabang), I heard about an awesome yoga/meditation retreat up in northern Thailand and looked it up and immediately knew it was what I needed to do and signed up. It does also happen to be cheap when compared to other week long retreats, but it still isn’t the cheapest thing either which is OK. It’s OK because I know I NEED this retreat and know it will give me both the mental and physical boosts I need, I just need to be patient as it begins on March 4th (I actually just moved it to be closer as I really do need it NOW).
Another honest bomb? If I had unlimited funds, I would love nothing more than to jet away to Maui for a much needed refuel stop. The thought of being in an English speaking country with beautiful beaches that I know like the back of my hand is what my dreams are made of right now. When I started thinking about this travel adventure over a year ago, I really did envision spending a lot more time laying on a beach than sitting in a crammed bus with people. But, I guess this just means I will have to discover the beautiful beaches of Cambodia, Thailand, and Bali (🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼) and keep dreaming about Maui 😊😭.
This also means being realistic as to how much longer I can and will be traveling for which I think will be towards the end of May, which would be 8 months instead of 12, but it is still better than 0 and would put me back in Oregon for the best season there- summer! I think I am cutting out Malaysia, the Philippines, and all of Indonesia, except Bali. So for a rough estimate I will be in Thailand beginning on February 20th (well this is set in stone because I have my ticket from Siem Reap to Bangkok booked as of today), through mid April when my visa will expire and then onto Bali, then back to Oregon.
I promised myself when I left that if at any point if I decided I needed to end this year of traveling early for whatever reason, that I could always do so. I have always been hard headed, love to give myself difficult challenges, and HATE giving up so admitting this to y’all is not easy. But I can finally be honest with myself and you that this is definitely a whole hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be and even as a financial planner it’s hard to admit the financial aspects, but I have always been honest to a fault, so why stop now? And I know doing what I have already done is more than what 99% of people have done/will do, so why am I holding myself to a bar which very few even meet? I don’t know is the honest answer, but it is something I excel at.
So this is not a woe is me post, nor is it a post on giving up. It’s a post saying hells yeah to all that I have already accomplished and done (and am soooo behind on blogging about) and I am still looking forward to my journey over the next few months. But it is a straight up honest post and a warning that you may be seeing me a little sooner than expected for those of you back home 😊.
As I head off into the most “dangerous” country on my list, I do ask for your positive thoughts, prayers, vibes, or whatever it is you do. I sure need them right now as I feel anything but strong and able to do this 😳🤞🏼🙏🏼.