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The Best & Worst Parts of Traveling

The Best & Worst Parts of Traveling

As you know, I’m not currently traveling. By day, I’m an educator (I teach third graders to be exact) and by night (or really any free moment I have during the day), I’m dreaming about traveling. We usually have to wait until either my winter break or my summer break to travel.

So here I am, dreaming of traveling and thinking back on all of the life-changing travel experiences we’ve had thus far (with no plans to stop in the future!) I’ve been thinking of some of my absolute favorite parts of traveling and some of my absolute least favorite parts. I thought I’d give you a look into what it is I really love about this thing called travel.

Now, I started this list on the Notes app on my phone during our last trip to South America. When I was experiencing something I really loved, I jotted it down. When I was thinking about something that I hated about traveling, I also jotted that down (a little bit more frantically). This list is not exhaustive but it’s just a few things I’ve observed while traveling.

Best Parts of Traveling

Taxi Rides—I just love them! No matter where we’ve traveled to, taxi rides are always a rush and sure to have me holding tightly to Michael’s hand or watching the road through my fingers. I also find it a great way to see the city or town you’re visiting and usually (not always) we’re able to strike up a conversation with our taxi driver.

This is an image I took out of the window on our taxi ride up to Valle de la Luna in Bolivia. I for sure thought we were going to go flying off the side of the cliff into the valley of doom below.

This is an image I took out of the window on our taxi ride up to Valle de la Luna in Bolivia. I for sure thought we were going to go flying off the side of the cliff into the valley of doom below.

Sitting in Town Squares—One of our absolute favorite things to do in any new city. We’ll find a bench, park it there, and just watch. Sometimes we’ll sit here for hours, sipping coffee or eating treats and feeling the life surround us. We love watching street dancers, lovers meeting on their lunch breaks, kids playing with toys, teenagers in their school uniforms, a mom yelling at her kid to get off the statue! We love it all.

The town square in Jardin, Colombia. We spent most of our time here, watching and taking it all in.

The town square in Jardin, Colombia. We spent most of our time here, watching and taking it all in.

Street Art—My favorite thing to look for in any new city is the street art. It’s usually colorful, vibrant, and full of life with a story to tell. A lot of Street Art has cultural meaning or holds significance. It’s always a good idea to look closely at these masterpieces and try to find the meaning yourself.

Street art in Comuna 13.

Street art in Comuna 13.

Street art in Comuna 13.

Street art in Comuna 13.

Street art in Comuna 13.

Street art in Comuna 13.

Free Walking Tours—In any new city or town we’ll always try to find a free walking tour. They are very popular nowadays and are usually very good. This has always been a surefire way to learn more about the place we’re visiting, meet new people, and give us an opportunity to ask questions about the city or country’s history. It is always highly encouraged to tip well at the end of your tour, especially if you’ve had a great tour guide like we’ve always had!

Finding amazing food in seemingly hole-in-the-wall places—My most favorite thing about traveling the world is most definitely the food. I love trying all sorts of new culinary things and when it comes down to it, I’ll eat just about anything (see next item for more details). I love finding culinary delights in places you’d least expect!

A juice vendor whom we bought from almost every day in La Paz, Bolivia!

A juice vendor whom we bought from almost every day in La Paz, Bolivia!

An always popular restaurant specializing in Saltenas (see photo below).

An always popular restaurant specializing in Saltenas (see photo below).

An up close and personal photo of me in my element, doing what I do best!

An up close and personal photo of me in my element, doing what I do best!

A Banh Mi cart in Vietnam, one of the tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.

A Banh Mi cart in Vietnam, one of the tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.

A relaxing respite along the river in Hoi An, Vietnam filled with cheap drinks and delightful snacks.

A relaxing respite along the river in Hoi An, Vietnam filled with cheap drinks and delightful snacks.

Doing things you would never do in your normal life—Like hiking up the Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador or taking part in a traditional ceremony of burying food to bake it underground. Or eating all sorts of strange foods. Traveling makes you take risks outside of your comfort zone!

I still can’t believe I survived this hike up a volcano.

I still can’t believe I survived this hike up a volcano.

Travel makes you do weird things like: hop on the back of a water buffalo and ride out into the water.

Travel makes you do weird things like: hop on the back of a water buffalo and ride out into the water.

Travel makes you do weird things like: wrap a gigantic snake around your shoulders then begin to hyperventilate while everyone around you laughs.

Travel makes you do weird things like: wrap a gigantic snake around your shoulders then begin to hyperventilate while everyone around you laughs.

Travel makes you do weird things like: eat grilled grubs while in Ecuador.

Travel makes you do weird things like: eat grilled grubs while in Ecuador.

Travel makes you do weird things like: get way too close to llamas in Peru.

Travel makes you do weird things like: get way too close to llamas in Peru.

Travel makes you do weird things like: eat Cuy (guinea pig) in Ecuador.

Travel makes you do weird things like: eat Cuy (guinea pig) in Ecuador.

Travel makes you do weird things like: eat tarantula in Vietnam. Also, I really like posing with my food.

Travel makes you do weird things like: eat tarantula in Vietnam. Also, I really like posing with my food.

Arriving in a new, never before explored place—I know this last one seems like a no-brainer but it’s true. When our plane lands, train stops, or bus pulls into the parking lot, I get butterflies of sheer anticipation in my stomach. What will I see? What will I taste? Who will I meet in this new land? It’s an experience like no other and it’s why I will continue to travel the world and chase this feeling for the rest of my life.

The anticipation of arriving somewhere new usually starts for me during the plane ride.

The anticipation of arriving somewhere new usually starts for me during the plane ride.

The anticipation also builds during the ride to our hostel!

The anticipation also builds during the ride to our hostel!


Now when I say the worst parts of traveling, keep in mind that I honestly love every single part of the travel experience. What I really should be saying is the most pain in the ass parts of traveling that you have to go through in order to get to the best parts. I really only have one “worst part” and it’s all about the transport.

Transport—This is pretty broad but let me narrow it down for you. I’m pretty impatient and waiting on a bus, train, taxi, plane, any other mode of transport is not my shining moment. You’d think I’d be so excited to just sit and “take it all in” but that’s just not the case. I’m so busy thinking about the “arriving in a new, never before explored place,” that all I can think about is getting out of the last place. It’s not the actual riding on the transport, or having to take transport (I do have a pretty good understanding that one must take transport in order to travel). It’s the mere delayed gratification of being somewhere new. Does that makes sense? If not, just think critically about this the next time you’re waiting on a bus that was supposed to be at the stop 3 hours ago but it’s still no where to be seen.

That one time we took an overnight train in Vietnam and I shared this room with three other people. Easily one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

That one time we took an overnight train in Vietnam and I shared this room with three other people. Easily one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Waiting for our train to take off in Ecuador. Starting to get antsy, can you tell?

Waiting for our train to take off in Ecuador. Starting to get antsy, can you tell?

Let’s be real, this is what most of my transport experiences are like.

Let’s be real, this is what most of my transport experiences are like.


As I said before, this is not an exhaustive list and as it turns out, even my “worst parts” are my best parts of traveling, because honestly, that’s really the best part of traveling. There are literally SO MANY THINGS I love about traveling and if someone would pay me to do it, I’d jump on that in a heartbeat.

What are your best and worst parts of traveling? I’d love to know!

Safe travels,

Emily

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