‘How long have you been going for?’ comes up more than once a day when you’re travelling and I struggle to give a simple answer. This trip, I will have been away from the UK for exactly one month today. However, that’s not the entire reality.
The longer answer is that I left ‘home’ in September 2010 and have been bouncing around the world with no fixed abode ever since. Sure, I had a three month stint in France where I was in one spot (mainly the patisserie) for a while and I have been back to the UK on more than one – in fact, two – occasions, which has added up to a total of four months. But even then I was couch surfing with friends and family.
Now I’m back on the road ‘proper’ and realise it is surprisingly easy to fall back into the swing of travelling life. Those who have been traveling for that bit longer than average will recognise that daily routines differ quite dramatically to the regular lives left at home. If you fall into that category, see how many of these ring a bell:
You know you’ve been travelling a while when…
1. You’ve owned nearly every style of Havianas on the market.
2. You no longer need earplugs to sleep in a dorm.
3. You can pack your bag in under 10 minutes.
4. You lose yet another bank card/item of clothing and it doesn’t phase you.
5. You don’t get up at the crack of dawn to get to the beach, you can always go tomorrow.
6. You barely remember what day it is.
7. You think paying more that $1 for a beer is extortionate.
8. Your shower ritual involves rinsing through at least two items of underwear or clothing.
9. Any plane, train or bus journey under 10 hours seems negligible.
10.You can’t remember what it was like to sleep in a room on your own.
11.Showering without footwear is an alien concept.
12.You no longer need to know what the food is but how much it costs.
13.The idea of paying more than $10 for a massage is horifying.
14.Your main means of communication with friends and family is facebook, email and Skype.
15.It no longer surprises you to bump into someone you met in India when you are in Italy.
16.You can say hello, thank you and order beer in 10 languages.
17.You no longer need airconditioning to function in the heat.
18.The locals have stopped trying to sell you souvenirs.
19.When someone asks ‘have you been to…’ your most usual answer is yes.
20.The cleanliness of your clothes is determined by smell at an arm’s length distance.
21.You can’t remember your last fixed address.
22.You will spend minutes haggling the price down 50 cents because that’s how it’s done.
23.You can get ready in the dark and under a towel as though it’s instinct.
24.You can’t remember the last time you watched tv…or wanted to.
25.If something breaks you sew it, glue it or duct tape it, you don’t replace it.
26.Mascara is worn on special occasions only (that goes for boys, too).
27.You can catch and kill mosquitos with your bare hands.
29.Your laundry is done by the kilo and comes back folded for less than the cost of soap powder at home.
30. Taking a taxi is a luxury.
31.Wearing socks and closed-toe shoes is a rarity.
32.You could lick an Indian Rupee and you still wouldn’t get stomach sick.
33. Wearing the same clothes three days in a row is a non-issue.
34.Drinking tap water is a rare event.
35.Working 9 ’til 5 is nothing more than a song by Dolly Parton.
36. Tablecloths and linen napkins are unfamiliar concepts.
37. Your swimwear doubles as underwear on a regular basis.
38.You’re strangely drawn to tying colourful string around your wrist.
39.Stray dogs no longer scare you and you’ll even consider petting the ones without fur.
40.Brushing your hair is optional (and usually done when applying mascara).
41.Wine comes from a box and is drunk out of plastic beakers…probably on a beach.
42.A good night out gets going rather than ends at 2am.
43.It is the wind blowing not social acceptability that remind you it’s time to wax your legs.
44.It’s been days since you saw your face in a mirror, longer since you saw your whole body.
45.You’ll ready any book so long as its got all the pages in it.
46.You can’t immediately recall the number of countries you’ve visited.
47.You can cook a tasty dinner using rice, soup, a microwave and a cup.
48.Your daily routine includes sunscreen and mosquito spray as standard.
49.You’d trade your Havianas for anything with the word Heinz on it.
50. For every place you visit, you discover two more that you want to go.
Got any others to share?
For those who think this list reads like hell on earth, remember:
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.
Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’re lost.