Behind every travel photo is a photographer. A traveller. A person. But, the heavily filtered and edited sunsets, sangrias and cityscapes only tell a fraction of their story.
I’m about to get really honest in this post and show you the unfiltered side of travelling. If you don’t want to spoil that picture-perfect insta-image you have of travelling and the traveller lifestyle, then look away now. If you’re ready for some Homebird truths then read on my little lovelies…
#1 YOU’RE GONNA LOSE SOMETHING
It’s inevitable. I managed to leave a top behind on a 5 day trip to Amsterdam, so for me, a 6 month journey around the world is a sure fire way to lose something. And… I absolutely hate it. Who’s with me on this one? Losing things is one of my biggest pet peeves because I just can’t stand not having the things that I meticulously packed. It could be something as simple as a pen or a hair grip and I’d still get annoyed 🙈.
Okay, so it’s one thing leaving something behind and knowing it’s your fault but it’s a completely different level when you get things stolen. I’ve been pretty lucky so far and all that’s been taken is £50 from my dorm room but it still feels horrendous knowing that someone has been through your things and intentionally taken something. I also managed to get robbed by the sea which sent an angry wave my way, swiping my glasses from my face. It was okay though because they were the primark variety and it gave me an excuse to haggle for Ray-Ban Polaroids from a street vendor. 😎
Alongside this list, I’ve also unintentionally left behind some shower gel, lost my Converse short distance glasses, left behind my travel pillow and flight bag, which I miraculously managed to retrieve and most recently I’ve lost my tangle teaser… which kills me because I just want to brush my hair man! 😩 Despite our best efforts at being super thorough when checking our room, buses and planes when leaving, somehow things have just managed to slip through the net.
Even if you manage to salvage all of your belongings and keep track of all of your possessions, I can guarantee that at some point you’re going to lose something. Maybe it’s your patience, or sleep on those long bus and train journeys, or your will power to avoid those tasty banana pancakes and incredible pastries… one way or another, it’s gonna happen!
To help me through these loses, I’ve had to come up with a new rule. It’s the 3P’s. Unless it’s my passport, phone or purse it’s not worth getting worked up about… even if it’s really hard not to get agitated when I can’t tease the tangles from my hair 😏… don’t stress.
#2 SOME DAYS ARE 💩
That’s a bold statement… sorry for going Plath on your ass (sorry not sorry). It’s more like fleeting moments than days but you’re gonna find yourself doing things that you’d probably rather not do. Whether it’s a 12 hour sleeping bus journey with a drunk, lairy Irishman shouting obscenities from his bed at the back, navigating your way back to your hotel through the flooded roads or spending a couple of days cooped up ill in an unfamiliar hotel room bed, some moments are going to be downright tough.
Granted, it’s generally these moments that hold the best stories, the greatest lessons and the turning points in your journey but I guess that my advice in these scenarios would be to remember that they are fleeting. When it’s the weather, be grateful for the change, when it’s other people remember that you don’t know their whole story, when you’re ill, be thankful for all of the days you had good health and when it’s disaster, count your blessings and remember all of the things that have gone well, ran smoothly and that you may have taken for granted before. This way, and with this attitude, you’ll enjoy your trip so much more and somehow find the funny side of soaking your Top Shop jeans whilst wading through a knee deep flood 😅.
#3 YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO GET SCAMMED
This may be a regional thing but if you’re travelling in SE Asia I’m pretty sure it’s a right of passage to say that you’re a true traveller. So, if it’s happened to you, congrats on the 1st travel badge guys! 🏅
I’ve heard some pretty grim stories about scams including weird boat parties with seedy photos but our scamming experiences were very different to this and are more on the comical side than anything else.
It can happen anywhere but it’s mainly transport that you need to look out for. I already shared our Bangkok scam story in WECOME TO BANGKOK: THE ROOKIE’S GUIDE but my friends, it did not stop there. Once we hit the next major capital it happened all over again.
Hanoi, Vietnam: Before I give the details of this two part scam let me give you some background. The roads are CRAZY with traffic… even worse than Bangkok and you have to do a slow hedgehog shuffle across the road, keeping firm eye contact with the drivers whilst hoping that they are paying enough attention not to wipe you off those zebra stripes on the road and into next week. Anything goes in Vietnam and they don’t have to follow road rules so a red light is as good as a green one and it takes a bit of practise to get used to the risk-your-life road crossing techniques.
So, on this one occasion, the traffic was not easing. We dipped our toe a few times but had to retreat due to the constant flow of bikes zooming past. Laughing and waving to the couple across the road who were having the same problem and eventually gave up we were then met by a local cyclo driver who had managed to gracefully dance his way though the traffic, linked our arms and escorted us safely to the other side of the road. A cyclo is basically a bike with a carriage on the front to transport you from place to place in an eco-friendly way. Considering our next destination was a short walk away we agreed for the driver to take us there and laughed the journey away on this new mode of transport. It wasn’t until we’d realised we’d gone the scenic route and heard the cost of the journey that we stopped laughing. We managed to barter our way down to a reduced but still heavily inflated price and got our money out to pay when the cyclist seemed to perform some kind of magic trick with the cash exchange giving us back our own money in change. It all got a bit confusing and heated and we left 600,000 VND down, which is the equivalent to about £20. A VERY expensive journey. I kept telling myself that at least his family would get some good meals that week but it still stings to be swindled. Top Tip: Don’t hand over ANY money until you’ve decided on the exact amount you’re going to pay and count it all out loud. 😅
Scam #2… still Hanoi, Vietnam. This one had little to do with me but happened to my travel buddie and all I could do was just watch in absolute awe and amazement at how one minute she had her shoes on her feet and the next she had her behind on a plastic stool, a guy’s flip flop on the wrong foot, whilst her shoe was in his hand being mended. It all happened in one swift motion and he managed to spot her slightly frayed toe from a mile off and pounced. He unlaced it, sat her down and prized it from her foot all in the space of 30 seconds.
It was all smiles and games until he continued to unlace her second shoe, give them both a “clean” and charged an obscene amount for the unwanted service. Considering she didn’t ask for any of these services this was absolutely crazy. She gave him the money she had, nowhere near the amount he requested and we quickly left vowing never to allow a stranger to unlace our shoes in the future 😅👟.
#4 FOREIGN MONEY IS NOT FAKE MONEY
This one kind of goes without saying but when it looks like Monopoly money and you feel like a millionaire, and technically you are, it’s hard not to spend, spend, spend.
Elephant pants, Nike trainers, Ray-Bans and jewellery are just some of the things that are going to be offered to you at a cheap price. I’m sorry to break the news, but don’t feel special when they offer that special discount “just for you” either… they give this special discount to everyone! Aside from all the material things, you’re going to be bombarded with tours and trips and food too! 😍Yes, so much food that you’ll want to spend all of those little pieces of paper on. I’m not telling you to not buy into the tourism and spend your money in these countries, quite the opposite, just go careful not to blow your entire budget in one Night Market trip, especially if you are heading to other countries at a later date where the cost of living is going to increase dramatically.
Most Instagramers generally don’t show their monthly budgets and spreadsheets on their feed, mainly because it just doesn’t fit well with their colour scheme mosaic. So, my best piece of advice to avoid blowing your month’s budget in one night is to always refer it back to your home currency so you can work out if you’d be happy to spend this amount at home, or if it’s in budget. I tend to use the xe currency app which makes it really easy to compare and switch between multiple currencies.
#5 YOU’LL MISS HOME LIKE CRAZY… BUT YOU’LL BE ALL THE MORE STRONGER FOR IT 💪
For me, holidays and birthdays are the worst and every time my besties get together and send you crazy drunken snapchats I miss them. Being an absolute horror film junkie, Halloween is one of my all time favourite times of the year, so spending it apart from my fellow horror-loving boyfriend for the first time in 5 years was also so weird for me. Had I been at home though, I wouldn’t have had the chance to go to a Halloween beach party and watch an amazing fire show… for free! You wouldn’t get that in the UK, ever! So, I guess missing one year of birthdays, holidays and celebrations is worth it for the experience, albeit super weird and maybe a little bit (or some days a lot) emotional.
It’s not often we see those soppy “I miss home” IG posts on our favourite travellers’ feeds, but it happens. Whether it’s your parents, siblings, besties, significant other, even your dog or your bed, at some point and on some scale that homesick bug is going to kick in. Just remember when it does that absence makes the heart grow fonder and that kind of distance builds strength 💪.
There you have it guys. The Homebird’s transparent 5 THINGS TRAVELLERS DON’T SHOW YOU ON INSTAGRAM, no gushy, emotional or bad parts excluded.
So next time you’re sitting at home and going green scrolling through all those incredible IG photos, remember, there is a story behind every single one of them and usually they manage to filter out the 💩 bits!
Or, if you’re the one taking the travel snaps and you’re having one of those number 2 days, remember to stay positive, smile and laugh about the crazy, insane memories that you’ve made on your journey. We may not show these downs on Instagram, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth sharing.
Enjoy your travels guys ✌️!