7 Completely Unglamorous Things About Traveling

It's not all Instagram moments.

7 Completely Unglamorous Things About Traveling

Travel isn't all Instagram worthy pictures and pretty dresses while sitting in cafes- there's so much about it that's rough, stressful, knackering, and downright unglamorous. You have to rush to catch trains, showering is sometimes considered a luxury, you live off a rotation of five outfits, and hostel beds feel like cardboard cots eight out of 10 times. And that's not all! Below are seven completely unglamorous things about traveling — buckle up. 

1. Your Suitcase Is Slowly Trying To Kill You

No matter how many sweaters you abandoned in hostels, bath towels you lost, hole-y socks you've tossed, dresses you've mailed back home, your suitcase only gets heavier and heavier and more and more full. It's like black magic. And all you do for about 40% of your trip is lug that beast around – up six flights of stairs, down slippery subway steps, through cobblestoned streets, up and down neighborhoods you're lost in, through train corridors – all the while heavily sweating through your undershirt underneath your coat. It's a great time.

2. Your Laundry Is Going To Be Impossible

Cold cycles? Whites without colors? Gentle wash? Don't make me chuckle. With hostels gauging you for five Euro a cycle you're going to toss the whole mess in together and hope your sweaters somehow make it out in tact and not full of pilling balls and shrunken sleeves. That or you hope that they won't randomly be stuffed into somebody else's laundry bag, giving them a surprise present. Fingers crossed.

3. Some Hostel Mates Are Going To Be Questionable

Yes, you'll meet friends in the living room that you'll hang out with the whole weekend like you've been long lost soul sisters, you'll meet interesting travelers with loud laughs in hostel kitchens and begin making dinner together, and you'll have some of the longest, wine-drowned, most fun nights with these people.

But then you'll have the other side of the coin. The guy that has the feet of an ogre and refuses to put socks on. The 50 year old that looks suspiciously like a bad guy from Taken, the college kid that hasn't washed his towel in about two months and is slowly killing you with its noxious gases – it's all part of the package.

4. The Constant Rush

Wake up at five, stuff your sweaters into your suitcase, rush out the door, make it on the bus, sleep, get off bus, rush to subway, get lost, run to the right train now, get off, find hostel, collapse, spend three days wandering new streets, wake up at six, rush. Buses, trains, planes, taxis, feet, sidewalks – the whole trip is a blur of running to beat gate closings and departing times. While it's amazing getting lost inside new maps and figuring out how to say new street names, the getting there bit is hella stressful. And knackering. And sweaty, deep-panting work.

5. The Constant “I'm Not...Sure” Feeling

Wait, why did this street just hit a dead end? Which way is the hostel? Am I on the right train? How do you open these bus doors?! Is this restaurant any good? How am I going to buy a subway ticket in Spanish? Where can I buy a new toothbrush? Is this the interesting neighborhood I'm in? Where should I go?! How do you say 'thank you?' Great, how do you say “Go away.”

You're lost literally 90% of the time. You have no idea where you're going, what's going on, what the cashier is telling you, if you're actually waiting at the bus stop or if you're just randomly hanging out on a street corner, and your trip is a constant parade of new people, rotating friends, and new beds to get used to. You're never sure, and you're constantly trying to put pieces together. It's fun, but man does it wear you out.

6. Getting Burnt Out With All The Amazingness

Yes, those Indian temples look like something else when the sky turns acid pink with the sunset, or Paris feels like a daydream in the morning fog, or you feel like you're living out lyrics of a song while sitting underneath an orange tree in Spain, but after awhile you get burnt out. You can't summon the energy to take another picture of a thousand year old deity; pastel colored buildings winding around street corners turn into the same-old-same-old; and that fourth city you visited in Belgium looks just like the same one you saw last week. It's crazy to think, but that burn out is real. After awhile, you start missing your old neighborhood and your old Thai restaurants and have enough of the vagabond life. 

7. All The Random Places You'll End Up Sleeping

On benches in Vietnamese bus stations, in cramped seats of rattling trains, on airport floors, cat naps in cafes across from the bus stop, using cardboard pieces as pillows, towels as blankets, sitting against hostel walls in reception areas while waiting for check in, putting your head down on fast food tables and letting the hours tick passed – you're going to sleep in a lot of random, uncomfortable, dirty, inconvenient places, and you're going to do it without qualm. Because it's either that or staying up for 30 hours, and forget that.

Travel isn't always glamorous – it's tiring, stressful, inconvenient, will make you want to dropkick something, and have you heave your passport across the room. But trust me when I say this – it's always, always worth it.

Marlen Komar is a writer living in Chicago with a penchant for mom jeans and kimchi tacos, and primarily writes about fashion history. She has bylines in Bustle, CNN Style, Racked, Allure, Curbed, and Apartment Therapy, and rarely stays in one place too long as she travels for most of the year. Website: marlenkomar.com