It’s officially Day 45 of our journey. (Where did the time go?!) Fun, adventurous, heartening, educational, surprising, tasty and humbling (and perhaps tiring) are just a few words to describe our trip to date. And while we feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this trip and are excited for what’s yet to come, we’ve reached the point in our trip that we’ve started to miss some things about our life in the United States. This especially became stronger most recently and during the Thanksgiving holiday.
So we decided to share a list of just a few things we’re missing from the road (in no particular order). For each, we’ve tried to share what we’ve missed, what we’ve learned and how we have mitigated.
None of these should deter any of you from traveling. If anything, they should encourage you to do it more =)
1. Family and friends: This is obvious, but have to start with this one. We miss keeping up with and hanging out with our family and friends. From phone calls, coffee/tea chats, and sports texts, to “water cooler conversations” about <insert any topic other than work> and walks around Green Lake…we’ve missed the company of our friends and family.
But we must admit that because of the wonders of technology that we’ve been lucky enough to keep in better touch than we thought we would be able to! Our T-Mobile plan has lived up on its word on free international data in 140 countries, which has opened up a world of free texts, FaceTime and Wi-Fi calling. Now that I’ve said something, let’s hope it doesn’t decided to go kaputz. 🙂
2. Our own bed/sheets: We not only miss sleeping in our own beds but in general knowing when the last time the sheets were washed and what that random stain may have come from. The places we have stayed are nice and mostly non-sketchy (we’ve grown too old for your typical post-college hostel hopping) but at times the sheets and towels leave you….questioning whether or not you want to use it.
Again, we’ve been lucky again because our two friends Ted and Sharon gave us advice on having sheet liners and even let use theirs from their RTW trip when we ran out of time to buy them. Let’s just say that have been life savers and one of us treats it like a self-cocoon mechanism and wraps the entire sheet from head/face to toe in bed.
3. Napkins in restaurants: More often or not, most of our dining experiences have been sans napkins. In fairness, we’re more often venturing into food stalls/street food establishments but even when it’s not, we’ve been hard pressed to find napkins. Sometimes, there’s a public sink to rinse your hands but then there’s no napkin to dry your hands. One of us is guilty of overusing napkins even back in the States so this has been an adjustment. It’s not that big of a deal but when we’ve been eating with our hands, it’s been slightly more challenging. If anything, this has taught us to be less wasteful at home.
4. Elevators: Elevators have been eternally slow in most places we have traveled. After spending 2.5 years working on the 32nd floor with lightning quick elevators, it’s been a tough transition. Most of us at work complained about those elevators, but trust me…they are incredible.
5. Western bathrooms: As you travel around in Asia, bathrooms are just different. Many have squatters and not a sitting toilet. Many don’t have hot water. Many don’t have a separate place for the shower, it’s all just one space so when you shower the sink and toilet get soaking wet. One of us also personally just misses comfortably sitting vs. hovering over toilets. 🙂
This is something just different as we travel, but we definitely miss our bathroom at home! It has been great exposure to different ways of life.
6. Daily routines: Sounds crazy, I know but there’s something nice about having and observing your daily rituals. Sometimes routines are not just good for your sanity and overall health in terms of having set times for things (eating, working out, etc.) And we just kind of miss the small things.
For an example, I recently went on a normal grocery trip that ended up being quite blissful for me. We were being graciously hosted by one of our friend’s parents in Malaysia and she needed to make a run to the grocery store and I asked to come along. I found some quiet happiness in just walking around the aisles with her, following her around as she picked up the items on her list and listening to her talk about what groceries she gets where.
7. Watching sports: Matt misses watching sport; however, he has been amazingly able to keep up with sports through Wi-Fi and T-Mobile data.
8. Cleaner air: Many places we have traveled have more pollution, more dust or both than in the US. We’ve been able to wear masks when the pollution or dust is really bad, but definitely miss this from home! We first experienced the smog in Beijing when we started our trip, but we’ve found it in other places as well.
9. Ability to walk freely on the sidewalk: Many places in Asia don’t have sidewalks. And when they do, oftentimes pedestrians share the sidewalks with motorbikes, bicycles, etc. There really isn’t such a thing as a carefree walk down the sidewalk in Asia unless you consider being cut off, zipped past or honked at as leisurely.
10. Food: While we both love Asian food, there are definitely some treats and restaurants we miss from Seattle and the East Coast. Matt also misses Cheez-Its!!
Don’t get us wrong, this has been a trip of a lifetime and we are enjoying every moment of it. And although these are things we miss and at times may wear on us, we wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world. Each experience (great, good or meh) is helping us become more open and aware to the world and enriching our travels. They also add up to some fun stories and great memories for us.
What are some things that you’ve missed when traveling out there? Is it crazy to miss a toilet? 🙂