As traveling to different countries becomes more popular and accessible, the number of avid travelers is sky-rocketing. That trend is changing how many people see the world, and it can change their personalities as well. Some of those changes are good: open-mindedness, a honed sense of adventure, independence, etc. But there can be negative effects as well, and not always the ones you might think. Travel ruins some people, and these are some of the ways it does so!
You Habitually Steal Freebies… Just in Case They’ll be Needed Later!
I picked up a quirky habit on a year-long backpacking trip around twenty years ago that is still with me today. Anytime I went to any kind of restaurant or coffee shop, I made a habit of sticking a few extra paper napkins in my back pocket. These always came in useful on the road – when I was eating in a hostel for example, for wiping my nose, cleaning things, et cetera. I still do this now without really thinking about it or without any real need to do it, as I live a pretty settled life (house, job, et cetera). I find it annoying as I often forget to clear out my pockets before doing laundry, and so occasionally find shredded bits of paper all over everything, and wadded up bits of soaked-and-dried paper napkins in my pockets. Needless to say, my wife isn’t too crazy about it either.
You Compulsively Book Hotels and Flights with No Cancellation Fee… just for kicks
Travel and the lead-up to it can be incredibly addicting. But not everyone can travel full time. So when I find myself stuck in a work contract and aching for the Open Road, I’ve figured out a short-term fix to get myself through the mind-numbing weeks. I book free cancellation flights and hotels for trips I might take… at some point in the future.
It wasn’t until working at a busy holiday park in New Zealand that it ever occurred to me that this might result in unnecessary work for some poor receptionist behind a counter somewhere. So to all the people who’ve had to input bookings to accommodate my addiction, I’m sorry! I swear, I at least have some intention to take the trips I book…
You Can Sleep on Any Surface
A skill honed to a razor edge by travelers who spend any amount of time using public transportation, this narcoleptic superpower is extremely useful but can lead to uncomfortable situations at home — like when you’re out with friends and decide that a quick nap is in order. Suitable sleeping surfaces might be in short supply, so a relatively clean patch of floor ends up being the next best alternative. While this is great for you, it may be a source of embarrassment for friends, who have to explain to staff that “No, our friend hasn’t had too much, this is just what they do.”
Hearing Your Own Language Spoken 24/7 is Jarring
I still remember getting off the plane after my first year-plus sojourn overseas. I was a bit dazed to start with, but the onslaught of English was almost too much. I could understand everything. After spending 19 months as a language minority and becoming used to tuning in whenever I heard English being spoken, the deluge of information was too much. I was becoming way more acquainted with my fellow travelers than I had any desire to be, and by the time I escaped the airport with my friends, I was about ready to bludgeon passersby to death with my manky bag.
There’s a certain level of tranquility in not being able to understand everything of what’s said around you. I didn’t even realize I enjoyed it until the tables were turned!
You Say Something and Immediately Can’t Remember Which Language You Said It In
A symptom of the traveler who chains together countries like charms on a bracelet, this continues in later life as a propensity to mix up the names of children. This also hits expats particularly hard — after spending years in one country and speaking a second language, to go home and return to your native tongue can be tough to get used to. Karla from Travel with Karla has had experience with this recently:
I lived in Korea for almost two years. I just went back to my home country, the Philippines… The funniest thing that happened to me was when I said “eolmayo?” in one random vendor when I visited the market. He was surprised and asked if I was a foreigner. It’s crazy how I got used to speaking other languages more than my native tongue. I look forward to learning more languages from other countries I’m going to visit.
Home Feels Like a Puddle
This one is the kicker, especially if you’re under the impression that going back home will return your life to normalcy. It might seem to at first, as you catch up with family and friends while visiting your favorite old haunts. But then the claustrophobia kicks in, and you realize that the broadening of your awareness has made you a big fish in a small pond. You feel caged in, bored, and restless — yearning for the broad expanse of the sea. This is perhaps the cruelest way travel ruins you, it takes away the sense of contentment that home brings.
All Your Anecdotes Are Travel Experiences
Conversations with close friends you haven’t seen in ages are all about catching up: what have you been up to, who are you dating now, what have you done with work, how’s your family…? When your answers to all of these questions circle back around to your travels, travel has ruined you. You’ve become one-dimensional, completely predictable and devoid of any depth of character. Congratulations! You have become that friend, and chances are that your mates are trying to avoid rolling their eyes when you launch into another gushing recollection of ‘that time in Burma’ or ‘my home in Tuscany’. Just go on another trip, why don’t you!
What do you think? Are there any changes you’ve experienced as a result of your travels that have ‘ruined’ you? Tell me about them in the comments below! And don’t forget to follow John and Karla on social media. Thanks!