5 things that I hate about travel

by Chad R. Mitchell

The mess is in the eye of the beholder.
The mess is in the eye of the beholder.

Lately I have been feeling a bit different about this path we have chosen. The life of the traveler is always an adventure, but sometimes the adventures grow old. Sadly, when I feel frustrated, or exhausted, I have the terrible habit of blaming those around me, rather than examining the real reasons I am down. Or I simply give up and want to go home, settle into a desk job once more and return to the routine.

I know it may seem crazy that I could ever feel anything but ecstatic at this wonderful life we have been blessed with, but it does happen, and l recognize that I may sound like a spoiled brat when I complain. However, part of the journey is dealing with one’s own self in different places; you never leave yourself behind.

So I must be honest and tell you a terrible truth: Long term travel can occasionally suck!

Meh. It's getting old.
Meh. It’s getting old.
  1. Staying too long:
    You know that feeling that got you to leave in the first place? The grind, the day to day, the mundane? That continues on, even in tropical paradise, or beautiful cities, or remote villages. The abnormal becomes the norm, and all you want to do is escape once more. This can happen in a day, week, month, or year . . . but eventually everywhere becomes home, and the little annoyances and the exciting new can become the viciously hated and the terribly boring. It’s strange, but everywhere you go is sort of the same.

    Umm. Is this our hostel?
    Umm. Is this our hostel?
  2. Staying too little:
    You arrive late after a grueling flight, you find a little hotel to stay, and the place is not at all what you expected. The alleyways are darker than you would have thought, the food is underwhelming, perhaps sickening, and the people are cold and unfriendly. You book the next flight out, never taking the time to get to know the place better, arrive at the next destination, and all the other travelers you meet are talking about the place you just departed and how wonderful it is. Suddenly you realize you missed out, only because it wasn’t a long enough stay to appreciate it. The jaded traveler can seriously under appreciate amazing places, and then it is too late.

    I guess this will suffice.
    I guess this will suffice.
  3. Miss all of the things:
    Salsa, burritos, that stupid hole-in-the wall coffee shop that you had grown sick of back home. The annoying friends, the same old conversations, and even the familiar shopping centers can sound like Christmas. And don’t even get me started on Christmas . . . How I have pined for the stupid jokes, the crappy sweaters, and the fattening foods of family holidays. . .

    My eyes are as puffy as I feel
    My eyes are as puffy as I feel
  4. Exhaustion is life:
    With our without a toddler to hold, the road can really wear you out. Each day requires new energy, and new drive, and new excitement about the paradise you have found. You must put on that smile, have the same conversations about where you are from, what you are doing, and do your best to speak the local dialect. Then go on another adventure into some broken down part of town to see something you could really care less about. All you really want to do is crawl up on a couch and rest your weary bones, and not have to talk for a month. Binge watching TV becomes so exciting.

    Which way to go? Snakes or Crocodiles?
    Which way to go? Snakes or Crocodiles?
  5. Decisions, decisions, decisions:
    What do you want to do today? Where do you want to go? What time? With who? Should we get a ticket elsewhere? Do we need to do a visa run? and on and on . . . Making decisions, huge and small becomes the whole of your existence. At times you wish you were on a cruise, and could just let someone else wait on you and and foot . . . but even then you’d have to decide when to eat and sleep. Or whether to swim or dance or . . . or . . .

Okay, so that is just five things…. Could there be more? Probably.

But even as I type this list I realize that it is so amazing that these are the things that I get to complain about. How fortunate we are to have these “difficulties.” Long term travel is a commitment, and like most commitments it requires a lot of work. It can be the most fulfilling and rewarding of experiences, but to not admit that at times it gets old . . . Well that will only make it worse.

Thank for listening.

Us most of the time. Wild and free!
Us most of the time. Wild and free!

Answer back: Tell me what you think of this life we have chosen. Does this scare you from going? Do you think I am a brat? Or do you fellow travelers agree and want to go home after my ranting complaints? 


  38 comments for “5 things that I hate about travel

  1. Jamie
    November 8, 2014 at 12:50 am

    The everyday can become mundane no matter the scenery. The one thing my everyday has over your everyday is long-term familiarity. Boring? Perhaps. Comfortable? Sometimes. Exhilarating? Nope. Never stop searching for your next adventure my friend. When the winds blow you home we’ll rejoice… Until then, I am proud to know such a free spirit. Oh, and yes, you are a brat… But we love you anyway.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      I am just waiting for you to join us my friend. Miss my Madrids most terribly!

  2. freebutfun
    November 8, 2014 at 1:07 am

    I’ve never travelled long enough to get sick of it but that doesn’t mean I would not have felt home sick. The worst time has been when I’ve been travelling alone and been really sick… But I have felt the need for quiet, for not constantly meeting new people and weary of making decisions (which often require a bit of research and sometimes that just feels like blah). I think that is natural; nobody ride on top of the wave all the time, everyone needs to just be sometimes. So no, I don’t think you are a brat, I think you are human and honest 🙂

    …and no, this doesn’t scare me off from travelling. I’m not travelling at the moment because there is a time for everything, and this is our time for everyday life. When it gets tedious, it is time to go!

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Traveling sick must be miserable! Fortunately it hastened happened too often for us (knock on wood!). I am glad so far I haven’t scared anyone from traveling permanently… that I know of! 🙂

  3. Sue Slaght
    November 8, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Chad I think that there are challenges in life, especially with small children. Being away from family and support likely increases the challenges. Hang in there!

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      I will! It’s all worth it! Thanks!

  4. The Vanilla Housewife
    November 8, 2014 at 2:00 am

    I think it sounds exciting, the only thing that would scare me if I were in your place is the language barrier and not being able to get help but that’s just me and my crazy fears LOL

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      I used to be terrified of language barriers… language doesn’t come easy to me. But I actually love that now (usually). Especially when I can sit in a crowded place and just ignore everyone since I don’t understand anything!

  5. Dad
    November 8, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Purpose is everything . Understanding we are given life to glorify Christ in all that we do and accepting grace from Him when we do not. In return for the Love of the Father and eternal life! How great!
    We love you are precious gifts………..Dad

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Hey Dad! Glad you read this! Purpose makes anything good, and without it nothing is good.

  6. Friend
    November 8, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Oh my gosh! That was hilarious. I was laughing out loud. So true to life. . . even the best of things can get old no matter where we are, and we can feel we’re stuck in a routine. Appreciate the humorous look at circumstances as we can get too serious about life at times.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      So glad it made you laugh. I was worried it might be read as complaining too badly. Routine can truly happen anywhere . . . darn it!

  7. Joy
    November 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I don’t think you are a brat. You are one of the nicest people I know! Copied below is someone else who feels the same as you!

    Ecclesiastes 1 The Message (MSG)

    The Quester (1. The act or an instance of seeking or pursuing something; a search.)

    1 These are the words of the Quester, David’s son and king in Jerusalem

    2-11 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]
    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.
    What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
    One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
    planet earth.
    The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
    then does it again, and again—the same old round.
    The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
    Around and around and around it blows,
    blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
    All the rivers flow into the sea,
    but the sea never fills up.
    The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
    and then start all over and do it again.
    Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
    no one can find any meaning in it.
    Boring to the eye,
    boring to the ear.
    What was will be again,
    what happened will happen again.
    There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.
    Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
    Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
    Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
    And the things that will happen tomorrow?
    Nobody’ll remember them either.
    Don’t count on being remembered.
    I’ve Seen It All
    12-14 Call me “the Quester.” I’ve been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

    15 Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened,
    A minus that won’t add up.
    16-17 I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind.

    18 Much learning earns you much trouble.
    The more you know, the more you hurt.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Why thank you! Me nice?! 🙂 Coming from you that is quite the compliment. Thanks for the written reminder by sages of old. A minus that won’t add up… Truth.

      • Joy
        November 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm

        “Coming from you that is quite the compliment.” Trying to figure out what that means but I’ll take it in a good way. haha

        • chadrmitchell
          November 11, 2014 at 7:08 pm

          I mean coming from you someone who I consider to be very nice! 🙂

  8. mamabyfire
    November 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm


    • mamabyfire
      November 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      It cut me off! Anyhow- I love the honesty! I start to get a little crazy after ten days of vacation, I just want to get home. I admire the life you guys have chosen and sometimes I envy it. But I think in the end, I wouldn’t be able to do it. And, no, you’re not being bratty! Just honest. Lol!

      • chadrmitchell
        November 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm

        Thanks! Ahhh. Home. After ten days. Almost sounds as glamorous as traveling sometimes. 🙂 At this point we don’t know where home is!

  9. Kimberly
    November 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for being honest! Nope, I at least don’t think you’re a brat. Honesty is something I highly value in people.

    I am soooo afraid of new things, I admire what your family is doing! It think it would be such an amazing adventure and your venting doesn’t change my mind. Still too chicken to try it though :p

    We’re thinking of moving to another state in the U.S. Get out, see more than just Sonoma County.. shake things up a bit! We’re kind of getting tired of some mentalities around here. But, it’s always good to keep in mind that “where ever you go, there you are” so to speak. No place is going to be perfect.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      And that is so true… No place is perfect. I miss Sonoma County so much some times… mainly for the people. I hope you get to try out a different state. Where are you thinking about? We loved Austin, Texas!

      • Kimberly
        November 9, 2014 at 12:19 am

        We keep hearing wonderful things about Austin! Asheville, NC keeps coming up in our life so we’re thinking about there. Or, maybe start in Greenville, SC since Hollin has some friends there. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is prejudice attitudes, but our friends say Greenville is more liberal than some areas of SC. It would be quite the experience going from Sonoma County to the South! But, we kind of like the idea of such a change 🙂 We actually want to experience weather :p

        • chadrmitchell
          November 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

          Ah yes! I almost moved to NC years ago. I loved the Chapel Hill area. There were lots of rad places to eat and to hang out… Change is fun!

  10. 5sOnTheFly
    November 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    What you say rings true for us. Through trial and error (mostly error) we’ve found our sweet spot for rentals is 1-2 months. We’ve had several places we stayed too long in and places we’ve left too soon, and it doesn’t make for a happy family.

    We definitely see travel as living outside of our comfort zone. This is awesome for personal growth and experiencing new things, but definitely a drag when it takes 3 hours to go grocery shopping after spending all day on a bus.

    You sum it up nicely; full time travel is fulfilling and rewarding, but a lot of work 🙂

    • chadrmitchell
      November 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you! It is so good to hear back from fellow travelers like yourselves. Originally we had set out with a goal of 3 months in each place. Sounds like the 1-2 months might be a better solution!

  11. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
    November 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I know exactly what you mean! The thing is, everything has its pros and cons, its ups and downs. There is no “perfect”.

    And I think sometimes when you’re setting off on a wild exciting adventure you can forget that (at most, pay lip service to the idea without really internalising it properly) and then to discover it’s true after all can be a real bummer.

    As long as you can keep it in perspective and understand what the signals are telling you things will turn out, I think.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      I think so as well. It’s so important to keep it all in perspective. It’s not a perfect life, just a different one.

  12. thehomeschoolingdoctor
    November 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Honestly, it is a strange-sounding life to most of us just sittin’ here in The States. What? Just travel around? How do you work? How do you have money? Why would you do that? Ha! Ha! But, for us, it is a life my husband and I know we could enjoy. It sounds just amazing. He is the very, very logical one in our family when it comes to decisions. I have to add balance to that. I keep pestering him on this one (because I read your blog–if they can do it, why can’t WE? 🙂 ). It won’t be anything we do soon, but I can definitely see us taking our family to travel for extended periods. It was one reason we chose to homeschool–so we could travel. Right now we travel only for leisure-breaks from the winter weather–and that is a different kind of travel (still much fun!) than what we can see ourselves ultimately trying–which you sagely point out above. I enjoy hearing your take on it, the good, the bad, the ugly, so we’ve considered aspects I never would have thought of. Keep sharing!

    • chadrmitchell
      November 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      It’s actually amazing we get to do all of this… Work came after we decided to do it “no matter what…” I still highly recommend it for those that truly desire it… I just realize the rose-colored glasses are deceptive at times! And I think you should go for it! 🙂

  13. melissajane01
    November 10, 2014 at 7:03 am

    I can imagine traveling would make you very tired. We are exhausted after a weekend camping trip a few hours away so I can’t even imagine an international trip.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      It can… very. But I always say sleep is overrated anyhow. 🙂

  14. Deanna (@ChiCityMom)
    November 12, 2014 at 2:23 am

    We are so so so bad at traveling and we are going to change that in 2014! I’m all about balance-we found doing mini trips to places keeps it exciting and not as homesick. With the exception of visiting the grandparents in Europe we would muh rather travel in North America 2-4 days at a time.

    I read some famous quote that said something along the lines of “create space/life you want instead of trying to escape all the time” something to that effect-makes you think about it.

    But getting away from you base is a MUST no matter what.

    • Deanna (@ChiCityMom)
      November 12, 2014 at 2:25 am

      I meant in 2015 sorry! Little too late for 2014 lol.

    • chadrmitchell
      November 13, 2014 at 7:43 am

      That’s the key… just stepping outside your comfort zone, even for a bit, opens up all new challenges and adventures! I think we are still finding out our new normal. Sounds like you have a very good plan that works good for you!

  15. thebritishberliner
    November 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    This is a really nice post Chad. Sometimes it’s important to let others know that one can do anything and go anywhere but choices still have to be made on a daily basis. Even paradise has a price LOL!

    It doesn’t scare me in the least. That’s what travelling is about.You get to learn about yourself and family, and grow in the process. For “Z” in particular, this is a fantastic time for her to see the world and the people that live in it.

    I started travelling with my son when he was a few months old. My husband and I did a 6 week road trip around Germany and by the time he was 5 years old, he had been to 23 countries with many of them a few times over. He’s 12 now and is always excited about other destinations although he does like his home comforts, so a good bed, a clean room and WIFI are a must LOL!

    I decided to stay put in Berlin as an expat and it’s “home.” Whenever, I’m in Berlin I feel this enormous sense of calm that this is where I should be, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Are you a brat? Aren’t we all!

    • chadrmitchell
      November 17, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Funny you should use the phrase:”Where I should be.” I asked Z about where she wants to go next and in her little voice she said very seriously: “Dad, this is we are are meant to be.”
      I just went on a dive yesterday with some Germans, and they were very enthusiastic about Berlin. I’ve been told many times throughout my life that I would really do well in Berlin… whatever that means. It’s so good to connect with other people who value raising their kids in a somewhat nomadic life… even if we all end up calling someplace “home” for a while!

      • thebritishberliner
        November 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

        I hear ya!
        Yes, Berlin calls out to people who like a non-conformist lifestyle. I guess that’s what they meant. Here, we can just be ourselves and live the life we want, how we want. In Berlin, we’re all slightly goofy LOL!

        • andthreetogo
          November 17, 2014 at 3:11 pm

          I love it!

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