The Truth About Traveling
Hey guys! I just got back from the most amazingly beautiful trip! As you might know, I started out in San Francisco, went to a retreat in the wine country town of Petaluma, and then rode a cross-country train all the way from California to DC and then down home to Miami. Whew! I'm SO tired. I'll tell you more about the trip in future posts, but let me just say this for now- It's on the list of top transformative experiences in my life. I saw gorgeous vistas that took my breath away and formed friendships with the most inspiring, love-filled women I've ever met. But that's not what this post is about...
Nope. This post is about how rough traveling can be.
Now, I'm not writing this to discourage you from traveling. Far from that! I believe that exploring other places and cultures is literally one of the best things you can do in life. It's exhilarating, eyeopening, and soul-fulfilling. But I'd be lying to you if I made my travel experiences seem like they're all completely perfect and filled with marshmallows and skipping through sun-dappled meadows. No. Even on my very best trips something awkward, stressful, or scary always seems to happen. This is part of life, and the experiences usually make for a great story in the future!
The thing is that people rarely talk about the bad moments they have while traveling, and this creates false expectations in other people who then expect a blemish-free vacation. You know how everyone only puts the shiny, happy aspects of their day-to-day on Facebook? Yep, it's just like that for travel too.
So instead of glossing over all of those severely flawed moments, here is a list of nine things that made me cringe on my most recent trip out West:
+ I spent $85 on a 20 minute cab ride from my hotel near the San Francisco airport to Palo Alto. I was in a rush to meet a friend for an impromptu lunch and didn't have time to catch the train, so I grabbed a cab instead. I thought it would be no more than $50 max- the price of my other long cab ride in the San Francisco area. So so wrong. And that is how you go about blowing your travel budget.
+ Since I spent too much money on my cab ride, I decided to take a BART train (the Bay Area's subway system) back to my hotel that evening. Well, I guess that wasn't a brilliant decision either! Within 5 minutes of boarding the subway, two insane men got into a fight right next to me. They brandished sticks and knives and started running around the train car trying to kill each other. I couldn't get safely away from them, because the freaking subway doors were closed! I weaved in and out of seats as they came closer and rolled around in a death match. Finally, BART went on emergency lock-down and the cops came to arrest the crazies. All I could do was chuckle and think, "Of course, this would happen to me."
+ Though I did eat at some trendy restaurants and stay in a few wonderful hotels... it wasn't all glamorous. In fact, I stayed in an old hostel for the whole beginning of my trip in order to try and save some money. It was a great deal- only $35 per night! The bad part was that I had to sleep in a bunk bed packed room with several strangers who I'd never met before. There was also a gigantic school group of preteens staying at the hostel who were running around screaming all day.
+ Fisherman's Wharf is pretty much a tourist hellscape. It's filled with commercialized chain stores and restaurants that you can literally find in any other city in the US. Though I guess one has to experience what it's like, I'm glad I didn't spend longer than a couple of hours walking around the area.
+ PSA: If you're a germaphobe or claustrophobic, PLEASE don't ride Coach on an Amtrak train! I spent a relaxing and magical three days in my own private sleeper car out West, but once I got to Chicago, I figured I'd be economical and ride in a Coach seat down to Miami. I clearly didn't consider that I'd have to start sharing a dirty, airplane sized bathroom with 60 other people. I also didn't consider that I wouldn't really be able to shower or wash my face until I got home.
+ To continue with my Amtrak experience, it's truly impossible to sleep in a Coach seat. They make the air conditioning SO COLD at night that I had to take all of the clothes out of my suitcase and pile them on top of me as a blanket. Babies were crying all around, people were talking loudly on the phone all night- the thought of getting any sleep was really just comedic. Plus, the seats are uncomfortable, and you're having to try and sleep next to a complete stranger. Which leads me to...
+ A young man in the seat right behind me got thrown off the train and then arrested by six cops at 3:00 AM in snowy, desolate Ohio for sexually assaulting his seat mate. Wonderful.
+ Several people warned me about the poverty and amount of homeless people in San Francisco, but I guess I couldn't really imagine how terrible it could be until I got there. It's bad. San Francisco was amazing, and one of the most gorgeous cities ever... but wow. It's sadly got a serious problem on its hands that travel ads don't ever show you.
+ Why did I decide to get a hotel for two days next to the San Francisco airport? I'm terrified of planes. I was given a room with the best view in the entire hotel of the waterfront and tarmac where all of the planes land. Oh, and it was also recently a CRASH SITE. So you know what people do when they see something that terrifies them? They stare with horrified fascination and can't seem to look away. I obsessively watched 60 planes land while I stayed in the hotel. Each and every time was a stress-inducing experience.
So there you have it. The truth is out! My trip wasn't flawless. It was hilariously imperfect at times. But I loved the experience as a whole and learned so many lessons from my adventure. I can't wait to highlight the beautiful, life-changing aspects of my trip in a future post, because it's filling me with crazy amounts of inspiration! For now, I hope you enjoyed hearing my real take on travel- lousy parts and all.
What is one of your craziest travel mishaps? Please share with us in the comments below! :)