14 Reasons Why I Hate Travel

Ihatetravelling 14 Reasons Why I Hate Travel

14 Reasons I hate Travel

I love living in new countries but I am really getting tired of the constant moving. I have been living abroad for about 14 years now and I don’t plan to stop. However, moving around all the time is way too much.

When you don’t travel much, going on a two week vacation seems like paradise. Every step of the process from the anticipation, arrival at the airport, checking in at the hotel are exciting and new. However, when you travel regularly most of those novel experiences quickly become boring and often dreadful.

Here are 14 reasons why I hate travel.

1. Customs

Customs in some countries, especially the US and UK have become draconian. From power hungry customs officers to stupid security procedures that fail to deliver even basic levels of respect, arriving in a new country can be a royal pain. It is not like this in every country, however. Travelling through Japan and many other countries can be quite pleasant. I understand the need for security but I wish every customs officer was forced to fly through Japan to see how they should behave.

2. Environmental Footprint

Air travel is hugely devastating for the environment. The faster you travel the more damage you are doing. It is very inexpensive to fly now, but as with all of our consumption, the total environmental costs are not factored in. If you care about the planet, you will fly less.

3. Transportation

Learning new public transportation systems and navigating new cities is tiring, particularly if you are carrying lots of travel gear with you. It is great to be in one place for a long time so that you don’t always have to figure out where to go. Some cities like London and Budapest are quite easy to navigate, but many cities really have terrible maps and finding information online has been next to impossible.

4. Travel is for Animals

When I was a child, travelling was a special experience where people dressed up and passengers were treated like they were in a high quality restaurant. On my first trip to Europe, there were dessert carts on the airplane where we could choose from among several desserts after eating a meal. I remember going up to the lounge on the second floor of a 747 and sitting on the spacious sofas. This was economy class.

Now you are likely to sit next to a traveller who hasn’t showered or changed their clothes for three days. The planes are dirty, passengers and flight attendants are rude and the airlines have moved the seats so close together that you can barely move. I can’t justify the jump in price to business class, but I would definitely pay more for a better experience.

5. Living out of a Suitcase

Constant packing and unpacking, trying to wash clothes and always rifling through bags is tiresome. I want to put all my things away so that I am not tripping over clothes and bags everyday.

6. Finding Flats

Finding new accommodations also takes a lot of time and energy. We spent more than a week each looking for flats in Istanbul and Budapest It is difficult to find a good place for a reasonable amount of money.  Real estate agents have been terrible and we have also encountered at least a half a dozen Craigslist scammers. We ended up with a beautiful flat with a great landlord in Budapest but our Istanbul apartement wasn’t cleaned as promised when we moved in so we had to spend several hours getting it to a livable state.

The same goes for finding hotels or hostels. It takes time to find decent places to stay. The reviews help and all the competition is bringing down prices but I still think hotel booking can be improved a lot online.

7. Internet Access

Getting a USB internet connection in Budapest was hell. Vodafone sucks; It took three hours in the store to get a USB internet stick with lousy (non-existent) service outside of Budapest. The software didn’t work on a Mac as promised  and the Vodafone store refused to return it the next day. I was sent to the back of  queue three times, each with more than an hour wait, to try to get it working with different clerks.  I repeat Vodafone sucks!

Our Istanbul landlord promised we would have internet upon moving in but it took more than 12 days and even then it is really slow and cuts out regularly. It is hard to get work done without a decent internet connection. Now I am starting to realize how spoiled we were in Japan. I miss my fiber optic internet connection!

8. Lack of Routine

When travelling regularly it is impossible to have a routine. My wife and I like to work out daily and can’t wait to join a gym again. It is very difficult to find places to run in a city like Istanbul and I can only imagine what the pollution is doing to my lungs.

It always takes a while to find quality supermarkets so that we can eat fresh and healthy food regularly. Going to restaurants on occasion is nice, but everyday is too much.

Regular travelling also wrecks havoc on sleep patterns. A couple of sleepless nights have lead to colds, some minor dental problems and a whole lot of crankiness. People often ask what do we want to do while in a new city, our response is often, “Nothing! We just want to relax.”

9. Pollution

The larger cities of the world, particularly in rapidly developing countries have serious pollution and garbage problems. It is only getting worse. Combine this with non-existent smoking law enforcement and it is very difficult to breathe clean air in many cities of the world. Clean air and water are quickly becoming the world’s biggest problems.

10. Cleanliness

I admit that my wife and I can be anal sometimes, but I still find it difficult to accept people smoking, eating sunflower seeds, taking out garbage, handling money and then touching the food they are preparing for me. In Europe, where bread is often sold unwrapped, I hate when customers squeeze three or four loaves before choosing one. It is kind of funny because in many countries food service workers wear rubber gloves but still smoke and handle money. Didn’t their mothers tell them to wash their hands before touching food?

11. Lack of a Decent Kitchen

The rental apartments we have stayed in have had terrible utensils. A good kitchen knife, cutting board, a decent pot and pan plus a collection of good fresh herbs are really missed. Doesn’t anyone cook when they travel? It takes four times as long to prepare a meal without the proper equipment. We are going to bring a good kitchen knife and cutting board with us from now on.

12. My Stuff

I don’t need much possessions but there are a few things I have difficulty living without. I like to play guitar and couldn’t bring one because of our check in allowance on EasyJet. I bought a used guitar and left it in Hungary, but I have been without in Turkey again. Even if you only want to do any semi-professional podcasts you need some basic gear. It is difficult to lug that stuff around in a backpack.

Good bicycles are also important. The best way to navigate a city is by bike. It is good exercise, yet not too quick to really enjoy the commute. We have rented some junk bikes by the day, but we would love to have access to some reasonable quality bikes everyday.

13. Weasels

I hate having to be on guard against theft and cheating all the time. Budapest is a bad city for getting ripped off. A couple times a day we would be overcharged or not given the correct change, Turkey is much better though.

It is not the money. Just the principle of being taking advantage of really irks me. It takes a lot of mental energy to deal with that everyday. We are beginning to long for Japan again where it is safe everywhere and you never have to worry about being over-charged.

14. Lack of time

Travelling really takes a lot of time in planning, preparation, getting to a new location, sight-seeing and meeting people. That means I haven’t focused on my work projects as much as I would like to.

I am not really contributing to the world when I am in constant motion. Travel is completely self-serving. At the risk of ruffling some blogger’s feathers, partying on a beach is not “kicking ass,” “extraordinary” or “awesome.” It is fun sure, I still like to go out and party once in a while, but it is not changing the world.

Too many bloggers write like everyone should be travelling the world full time. That is total bullshit. It is easy for a fresh graduate out of school with no obligations, work experience or money to live on next to nothing while having fun for a year or so, but that is not a lifestyle.

Penelope Trunk wrote 4 Reasons travel is a waste of time, I am starting to agree.

Travelling is Not All Bad

Of course, travelling can also be incredibly rewarding. My wife and I have met and continue to meet some fantastic people. We have seen many beautiful places and ate at some great restaurants. We have learned how little material possessions are necessary to be happy. Staying in many places has helped us figure out exactly what we want and need when we build our dream house. We have a much better understanding of the diversity of our planet. We also have a much better appreciation for our home countries and families. Living abroad is great, but travel is too much.

My Solution to the Travel Problem

We will continue to travel but we are going to do it much slower. Ideally we would like to stay in each city for at least 2 or 3 months with short excursions to nearby places. I have also started coordinating a group of travellers who would share the same accommodations around the world.

Personally, I would love to have a small network of people I know and trust to share each other’s homes. Everything will be completely set up, with internet, clean and nice furniture and fully equipped kitchens all for just enough money to cover costs. So far I plan to set up my house in Japan again and we will mostly get a second place in Budapest in 2012. If there are any of you out there that would like to swap accommodations around the world, please email. I want to keep this small and inexpensive. It would be fantastic to be completely set up in a new country on arrival without staying in hotels, dealing with real estate agents and living in run down short term accommodations.

What do you hate about travel?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

38 Responses to 14 Reasons Why I Hate Travel

  1. Brandon Pearce says:

    Awesome post! I came to the same realization recently that moving around every week or two is just too much. I start to long for routine, and for more focus on contributing. Living in a place for 3 or more months is great, and gives you the chance to take short excursions for “travel” when you feel like it, without being overwhelmed by it. You also increased my longing to return to Japan. We’ll make our way over there when we’re done with Costa Rica.

    • John says:

      Hi Brandon,

      It is great to hear from you again. Hopefully, we can meet up in Japan sometime soon. We might be going to South America in the spring but we are not 100% decided yet.

  2. Tony says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Constant travel sounds like a dream to a cubicle locked office worker but the reality is it can be a huge pain in the ass. I find the hassles many times outweigh the benefits and I tend to lose any appeal for the new destination. I find it much better to plant myself in one central location and then travel out from there but always have a home to come back to.

    My other pet peeve is visas. Constantly having to figure out what type of visa you need and the expense of getting one. Having filled up 3 passports in 3 years I actually miss the days when I lived in my home country and never had to worry about visas or passports.

    • John says:

      Visas! Yes, that should be number 15.

      Visas can be a hassle. My wife and I are from different countries so there are different procedures as well.

      Thanks for commenting Tony!

  3. Alan says:

    When I read the title of this post, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but wow, I can relate to a lot of these!

    Customs, transportation and Internet access–those are pretty obvious. But the lack of a proper kitchen, the large environmental footprint, pollution and lack of gym time are some things that have become harder and harder to deal with over my last few 5-6 week trips.

    Awesome list, Mr. Bardos. Despite this post, I hope your travels find you well!

    • John says:

      Greetings Alan,

      Thanks for the comment. Long time no talk.

      Our travels are good but still too fast. The biggest problem is that we are not healthy right now. I feel so lazy without regular exercise.

  4. Jannell says:

    Excellent post, John! Thank you for ‘telling it like it is’. As I prepare to leave for an around-the-world trip in 2012, I will need to navigate these issues as well. I’ll be paying close attention to your progress on the ‘Solution to the Travel Problem’ – so keep the honesty coming :)

    • John says:

      Thanks Jannell,
      Good luck with your RTW preparations. I will definitely post again about the network of apartments around the world idea. I know I wish I had access to something like that now.

  5. Brent says:

    John;

    There are a number of simple tricks and techniques you can use to jump into Premium Economy or even Business for a fraction of the actual cost. For example, I pay no more than $3500 USD to fly from Europe to New Zealand, return, in Business. Sure, it’s still $2000 more than economy, but far cheaper than paying full retail and the upgrade in service is well worth it. I suggest (if you haven’t already) take a look at Chris Guillebeau’s (Art of non-conformity) blog as he discusses some travel ‘hacks’ and he also has a good ebook which he discusses them even further.

    I do use a travel agent to book these massively discounted fares, so drop me a line if you’re interested in speaking with them.

    • John says:

      Hey Brent,
      Thanks for the comment. We can get those types of deals through discount travel agencies in Japan as well. Unfortunately, I am not rich enough to justify paying double or triple the price yet. We can live on $2000 for a month in most countries. :-) I do read Chris’ blog, but unfortunately many of those upgrades are not available for the flights we take. (My wife and I are not too keen on flying through the US or using US carriers anymore.) The US has fantastic airmiles bonuses that are not available to people in other countries.

  6. Phil says:

    Hi John. Another great article. We just bought a small house in Kyoto that we hope to use as a second base (after our primary residence in Spain). I totally agree that longer stays in fewer places gives a more rewarding experience.
    And doing that in a hotel doesn’t cut it!
    Still, we are fortunate just to be able to complain about such a lifestyle!

    • John says:

      Greetings Phil,

      Congratulations on the Kyoto house. Hopefully, we will have a chance to meet in Japan sometime next year.

      You are exactly right! We are so damn lucky to be able to complain about such small things. Life is good.

  7. Earl says:

    I’ve recently slowed down my travels quite significantly as a result of some of the points you listed above and the overall quality of my life has improved drastically. For me, it’s the time needed for planning (#14) that has really started to take its toll. It’s as if I arrive in a new destination and suddenly need to start looking for flights to the next place when my plan was to get focused on work and make some progress.

    Although, I will say that there is still benefits of constant travel, depending on the motivations of the traveler. Sure, sitting on a beach all day every day isn’t contributing much, but there are plenty of people who aren’t bothered at all by any of the above aspects of travel. After all, none of them bothered me for my first 8 or 9 years on the road, and I’d like to believe that despite moving around quite often, I was in fact contributing something positive to the world :)

    • John says:

      Hi Earl,

      Both living abroad and travelling can be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. I love to be able to see new countries, experience new cultures and meet different people. However, I have personally found that moving around too often (travelling) really gets in the way of accomplishing bigger things. Living abroad is different because you can get into a regular routine and focus on your work.

  8. Nomadic Matt says:

    I can agree with many of these things, especially the kitchen thing. I love to cook and it kills me how bad hostel kitchens are!!!

  9. Smily says:

    Hi John.
    Very timely post as I was just talking to a friend about the very same idea of getting a small group of trustworthy individuals/families to swarp dwellings on a semipermanent basis. Probably should distinguish between smaller dwellings for just couples or singles, to larger dwellings (3-4)bedrooms, for families. Keep up the good work, hope to talk to you soon.

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      The houses or apartments will likely have 2 or 3 bedrooms so they may be suitable for both families and couples. However, it is probably more likely that couples would regularly return to the same locations and stay for a couple of months.

  10. Smily says:

    Hi John.
    What would make it even more interesting in my opinion is if the locations were close enough to not be a travel headache but still be far enough to be separate. You know what I mean. I understand your sentiments exactly. Glad you’re here.
    Talk to you soon.

  11. Brad says:

    Huh. A little confusing. It doesn’t sound like you hate traveling, just a certain type of traveling. I don’t think constantly being on the go is the only definition of travel. I think that is fun in spurts, but like you, I prefer moving along a little slower where I can get a place with a nice kitchen…and enough room to workout using body weight exercises (who needs a gym?). There’s just too much to enjoy about visiting other locations, in whatever form you do that, to say you hate travel. One of the interviews I read on your blog inspired me to pack up and leave the country. I’m thankful for it.

    • John says:

      Hi Brad,

      You are right. It is a certain type of traveling I dislike. I am making a distinction between living abroad and traveling to new locations often. I love living abroad, it is the constant motion I dislike. Anything less than two months is too fast for me.

      I am glad that one of my interviews inspired you! All the best.

  12. [...] recently wrote about 14 reasons why I hate travel, most of it was minor bickering disguising the fact of how lucky my wife and I are to be able to [...]

  13. Audrey says:

    Great points here. This year we’ve slowed down and have rented apartments in Buenos Aires and Berlin for a couple of months each and have spent longer periods of time still in places in between. This trend of slowing down is only going to continue in the following year. If you’re traveling for traveling sakes the constant movement is exciting, but when you have other obligations and work/projects that you’re committed to then the excitement of travel planning goes out the window and your patience runs thin on shoddy internet connections (or lack there of after they are promised).

    I love the idea of having a set of homes for digital nomads to share to avoid the hassle of agents and Craigs List scams (came across that in Berlin as well). Unfortunately, we don’t have a place to offer but would love to hear more about this to perhaps sign up in the future.

    • John says:

      Thanks Audrey,

      I will keep you notified of the progress of the home sharing idea. It would definitely save a lot of time and improve the quality of life for those involved.

  14. Sandra says:

    Yea, I agree with you that travel can be a real hassle sometimes. I hate it when planes are delayed and such like.

  15. [...] a previous post I mentioned the difficulties in getting set up in a new apartments in new countries. Dealing with shady real estate agents is a big pain and apartments are often dirty, poorly [...]

  16. Cecille Sabater says:

    Hi John,
    I just came across your blog and find it very interesting. I just got home yesterday from a 5 day trip to Hong Kong. I met a foreigner who was having a hard time finding a place to stay. I really think that in any country, you make a reservation first before going there or you’ll end up in an expensive hotel or a rinky dink place.
    If you plan to explore the Philippines, I can have my place rented for a short or long term. A 2-bedroom condominium situated in Eastwood City Quezon City. Well, email me if you want details. It would be a pleasure helping travellers

  17. Kelly says:

    I totally agree with all of your points! We’re coming up on 3 years and are definitely having similar feelings as you and your wife. We’ve never been ones to move around really quickly. Due to work and internet we’ve been slow travelers from the start… but I can honestly say I’ve bought a new kitchen knife and a can opener in every apartment we’ve rented in the last 3 years, (with the exception of our latest place in Amsterdam). You’d think by now I’d have kept one of them, but every time we pack up to move I feel like I have too much stuff already. Carrying everything you own from place to place is a pain and excess baggage fees are a killer!

    Keep us posted on your idea of sharing places… we’d definitely be interested in that!

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment Kelly.

      Travelling can be a pain, but if I stay too long in one place I start itching to go again. It is a tough balance.

  18. Zoe says:

    Unfortunately I can totally relate. I love being in new places, getting to know an area and the sights and the way of life… I hate the inbetween of waiting for a plane, a train, a bus, being stuck like a sardine in a box with 1000 total strangers, argh.
    Lately I’ve been taking to longer stints, so my stay is around 6 weeks and if I have time I will move to another area… but usually now ;)

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment Zoe!

      Actually, I love the airport part. It always feels so exciting to be in such an international place and know that I will be in another country soon. The cramped seats and food are not so great, but I generally enjoy the flying.

      The part I hate is the constant planning and inability to have a routine. How do we get to the city? Where are we going to stay? Is the Internet good? Where are we going to eat? Where can we buy some groceries? Is there a place we can work out? When do you we have to leave again? When does our visa expire?

      There is always something to plan and organize, but I usually just want to stop and enjoy where I am. It is hard to enjoy the moment when you are constantly moving.

  19. Sara says:

    Hi John, my husband and i just started our early semi-retirement last year and going through a lot of the same things you and your wife have been experiencing. We dont want to backpack and go from place to place at a fast pace. We also like to set up a home base and then explore from there. Intrigued with your idea of getting some people together to “pool” our accommodations, we’re looking at buying a place in Canmore and/or somewhere in the US.
    We’re also based in Calgary and would love to meet once you’re back.

    • John says:

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks for the comment. Pooling accommodations is a great idea but it is difficult to get a large enough group of people interested. About a dozen people told me they love the idea, but only a few have properties to let out and they are not in prime travel locations. For it to really work we would need apartments in the top digital nomad cities like London, Barcelona, Budapest, Berlin, Tokyo, Kyoto, Chiang Mai, New York, San Francisco, Istanbul, etc. Then there are other issues of keeping the places rented in the off season. Everyone wants to rent in the peak travel periods, but not so much other times of the year. I still really like the idea, but it will take a while to build a critical mass of people. Maybe I will post another blog post about the idea in 2013 to see how much interest there is.

      We are back in Calgary until October if you want to connect.

  20. agirl says:

    Thanks for being candid! International travel has never appealed to me. Ive recently had several men invite me on their trips. i would not have to pay anything, but the idea of being on a cramped plane seat for 12 hours, sleep deprivation during said flight, flying over an ocean so there isnt possibility for emergency landings, and the unknown danger which may lie in a third world country. This does not sound like a good time for me. I prefer to go to my familiar hotspots in Miami, Atlanta, NY etc. I always have a fun time and only fly a few hours or less. I guess international travel isnt for everyone, and youre right its not something everyone just has to be doing.

    • John says:

      Hi,

      I love airplanes and airports, it just all the planning and running around that I don’t like.

      I understand your fears of flying and going to strange places, however, if you have a chance, I’d still highly recommend travelling and living abroad. There is a lot the west can learn from other countries around the world. Living abroad has opened my eyes to a whole new world and helped me question so many of my assumptions about life.

      I don’t want to encourage frequent air travel because of the environmental damage, but everyone should live abroad at some point in their lives.

  21. Kyra says:

    Yes. YES. I despise visas, passports, and horrible airports and shuttle service in developing countries. I hate it when websites aren’t informative, and the hotel rooms suck, the bus schedules are wacky, and the stops are a few more blocks away then advertised. Finally getting over it lag to discover your traveling to another city in two days, and annoying parents who try dragging you to see everything without a moments rest. Seriously, it’s a vacation. You’re supposed to enjoy yourself.

  22. John says:

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the comment. The biggest problem with Vodafone was their terrible customer service and complete unwillingness to help. They said it would work on a Mac and when it didn’t, they wouldn’t return my money.

    Connectivity is improving rapidly though. In a few years, I hope all of these problems will be gone.

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