Okay, guys, I’m about to feed you a slice of humble pie. And I’ll give you a fair warning: it probably won’t smell so great (like me in the photo above).
I think a lot of people conjure up this glamorous idea of what traveling is like. It doesn’t help when you see photos of girls posted up on some rock with their hair flowing in the wind, waves crashing in the background in true Disney form. Or what about the dudes posting shots of themselves surfing these insanely gorgeous swells on holiday, water drops creeping down their tanned washboard torso?
So, yeah, we get it. They’re doing the cool things. They are loving life and WE ARE SO GENUINELY HAPPY FOR THEM. But. What are most of them not telling us? Probably that it took at least five attempts to get that Ariel shot (and that’s when the wind blows in her favor, and she’s actually had the chance to wash her mane…maybe) or that their surf trips are probably super grungy (for the record, I’ve spent my fair share of time with some grungy surfers and I’ve got nuttin’ but love for you hoodlums; you are your own breed).
Y’all, I’ve gone lots of places and done lots of the cool things, too, and I will be the first one to tell you that it isn’t this endless series of sexy moments, flawless adventures, and complete euphoria. Nope. Actually, if you travel often and far and for any extended amount of time, you know that you hurdle over the socially acceptable lines of personal hygiene and “clean” places to eat and sleep like a well-trained Olympian. I mean, let’s be real for just one second – showers can either be a blessing in the sense that you haven’t had the chance to take one in a couple/few days OR they are a curse because it’s been a long day and you are just too exhausted to give a good hot damn. Non-travelers/cushy tourists, you are snarling your noses right now, and I’m just here to tell you that sometimes I’m dirty and I just don’t care. *Hair flip.*
So I’m going to let you in on some less-than-sexy secrets that some friends and I have humbly written down in order to give you a realistic idea of what the nomadic life can actually be like:
- Your clothes are much more likely to be dirty than clean. Now, the terms dirty and clean are relative to each individual. Some people wash their clothes every time they wear them (you’re wasting water and resources by doing this, selfish humans) and some people wear their socks so many times between washes that they could crack in half. To each their own.
- Sometimes you have to think long and hard about how long it has actually been since you’ve brushed your teeth. Now, I’m actually quite diligent when it comes to my oral care. My parents paid a fat penny to fix my train wreck of a mouth and I do my best to take care of my pearlies. Plus, bad breath is a turn off. Ain’t nobody got time for that. However, I noticed on my flight to Queensland that with all of the layovers and time changes that I couldn’t honestly think of how many hours it had been since my last brushing. I immediately got my toothbrush and toothpaste out. Scrubba-dub.
- B/O happens. As mentioned above, sometimes showers just aren’t an option ( or maybe they are, but your give a damn is busted…whatever). And sometimes you forget deodorant. And sometimes you’re trapped on a hot bus and people don’t try to hold in their body air and it just seems to cling to everything. DO NOT JUDGE. WE ARE ALL JUST FANCY ANIMALS AT ANY RATE.
- Unshaven everything. First of all, thank you, parents, for giving me Cherokee blood on both sides (meaning next-to-no body hair). People, shaving is a weird concept when you really think about it, and I don’t always have the time, patience, or will to mess with it, especially when I’m on the road. Secondly, if the love of my life, (the only one who gets close enough to care) doesn’t mind some hairy legs and scraggly pitties every now and then (or between every shave…again, whatever) then do you really think I care what a bunch of strangers think? Nah.
- Everyone sleeps with their mouth open at one point or another. Now, I’m no scientist, but the law of gravity proves to us that even the strongest of jaw lines can droop when you sleep, especially you’re sitting upright on public transport. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that drooling is a thing, too. The universe just has this way of humbling everyone, and this is relatable for every race, gender, and nationality. If you don’t think this has happened to you, you’re in denial, and that’s okay. You can just sit there and be wrong in your wrongness.
- Illness has no mercy or sense of geography. When your body decides to turn against you, you’re at its mercy. Sorry. Sometimes shit just happens, and sometimes it happens quite literally.
- We abide by the five – ten second rule as if it were written in The Holy Bible. Okay, when I’m traveling on a budget and just bought $12 nachos from a food truck, you had best believe that when my dollop of guacamole falls on the public park table I am going to pick it up with my uncleaned fingers and plop it right back on top, ending with a good ol’ fashioned finger lick, too.
- You’re only cool if you pee your pants. Okay, so this might happen at home too. I think I just laugh too hard or something? But for the sake of this post, let’s just say it’s so much worse when you’re nowhere near your suitcase to change. Le sigh…such is life.
- Realizing that your awesome new tan is actually dirt. If you’ve ever hiked through a desert or raged at a music festival, you understand my struggle. That fierce bronzed skin scrubs right off when you apply a little soap and water (and oh my lanta, the astonishment you experience when you apply it with an actual washcloth – wowzas).
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And life as taught me that reusing the same plastic utensils without washing for one week and drinking after strangers (when they look clean-ish enough) only makes you[r immune system] stronger.
- Your nails look like Edward Scissorhands before you know it. And sometimes this happens on your feet. You don’t always think about the things you really need until you don’t have them, and nail clippers are high on that list for me right now. Seriously, as I look down at my toes at this very moment, I wonder why I’m not climbing trees professionally.
- Sometimes you run out of toilet paper. This calls for stealthy innovation, like removing the cups from the sports bra you’re wearing to take care of business. Ya do what ya gotta do, and ya got no shame.
- That moment when you are faced with your un-sexy attributes. For me, this moment came when I realized my fear of heights. No one likes to admit their weaknesses or when they’ve been defeated, but life just doesn’t always give you a choice in the matter. Like when you’re literally standing on the edge of a cliff when your knees suddenly give out and the ground appears to be moving and you sink down and crawl to the side with more land. Oh yeah, trembling, white-faced, crawly girls are super sexy. (P.S. I might be scared of heights, but I don’t let them stop me. I just keep on crawling.)
- The glories of the menstrual cycle never cut slack. Seriously, Aunt Flo, were you trained by Marines? You are merciless. You play the worst mind games, you show up unannounced and unwelcome and you always find new ways to hurt me, oftentimes publicly. YOU WERE NOT IVITED ON THIS JOURNEY. You’re ruthless, yet so necessary. Thank you for your good, and damn you for your ugly.
The list could just keep on going, but I’ll leave it here for now. I am quite certain I have embarrassed my parents enough at this point. I’m hoping I’ve not only provided a few chuckles and reminded you why I call myself the Humble Lion, but I genuinely want people to know that traveling the world isn’t this fantasy life for the rich and famous, and despite what you may be thinking after reading this, it isn’t just for “dirty hippies” either. It is a series of real-life situations for real folks that are magnified under the light and pressure when you are out of your comfort zone.
If you have any un-sexy travel stories and/or habits, tell me about them! I like funny stories, too!
The Humble Lion