Guts and Glamour

The real story of the road

As you watch the life of any traveller through the filtered images of their Instagram accounts, what you see might encourage a number of feelings from you about their life – impressed, inspired, jealous – maybe even angry or frustrated!

But what you forget, is that nomads and travellers are not mythological creatures, I am not a unicorn. I am a human who sometimes accidentally pees on her own sandals at the side of the road.

When I’m travelling alone, I feel a lot of inspiring and positive emotions.  Freedom, healing, awe at the sights, sounds and smells of beautiful and unexpected new places.  I can stop at a roadside if I want to admire the view for a little longer, I can take the wrong turn intentionally just to discover an unbeaten track.  I can wear floaty dresses and dance in fields of flowers or jump from rope swings into waterfalls.  I can eat my lunch wherever and whenever I choose and I can play whatever terrible music I like at any volume I want to in my car.  I joke, of course.  My taste in music is fantastic.

So that’s the glamour, that’s what you see through the social media tinted glasses.

But what about the guts?  What about the day to day yucks of travelling solo in unfamiliar territory?

Allow me to paint some of the rest of that picture for you…


  1. Bugs

New countries, different bugs.  Some bite, some sting and you can’t predict what kind of reaction your body will have to each one.  You also can’t predict that high pitched hummm of a mosquito zeeeeing back and forth past your ear in the night, or how hard your own sleepy hand will slap you in the face in an attempt to squish the pest.

  1. Language barriers

Especially if you’re travelling through more than one country with more than one language to pick up.  Getting confused with the local words for simple things like hello, yes and no, please and thank you can be quite embarrassing as you meet new people through every hour of the day.

  1. Language barriers part 2

Not understanding simple road signs, street signs or parking meters.  This teamed up with the previous one can be pretty awkward when a passing stranger attempts to offer help.  Why are you laughing? Wait, why do you look angry now? Ah balls, I’d rather just take the fine.

Related image

  1. Losing signal on your phone / SatNav

Ideally I’d like to be one of those floaty, free types who doesn’t need modern technology, but the truth is sometimes you just have to get from A to B and need the most efficient route to do that.  You’d also probably appreciate knowing which direction to the nearest fuel stop when you’re on top of a mountain in the middle of buttfucknowhere and the little red light tells you there’s only 50km left in the tank.

  1. Failing at food

Trying to be adventurous with the local cuisine is very admirable, but when you thought you ordered a veggie lasagne and your plate shows up with eyes and tentacles, you begin to regret your nonchalant, finger-pointy attitude to the menu.  I’ve had similar experiences with guessing at a choice of wines – but without the extra limbs, thankfully.

  1. Getting pulled over

Sometimes you haven’t even done anything wrong, you’re just the random stop for the day.  Maybe it’s just your Italian plates driving on French turf that encourages some suspicion.  But I guarantee it’ll always happen when you’re driving without any shoes on and your dirty underwear is strewn throughout the inside of the car for 5 strange men to see because you had to wriggle into your bikini in the backseat earlier today.

  1. Privacy

Having to wriggle into your bikini in the back seat of your car.

Image result for clothes in the car

  1. Up-Close Appearances

Seeing a mirror for the first time at 7pm and realising you’ve had toothpaste on your face and hair like a Wurzels tribute act all day.

  1. Shoestring Budgets

Living an ‘on-the-road’ kind of life is fine, and lots of places are a pleasant surprise once you arrive and settle in, but occasionally, you find out why your room was the ‘Cheapest available in your area’.

  1. The Timed ‘Landscape’ Selfie

Trying to beat the timer on your camera by diving in front of it 15,000 times to get one photo of you at a location that doesn’t look like you’re doing The Salmon.

  1. Peeing Outside

Sometimes not even in very private places, but when you gotta go, ya know…

  1. Peeing Outside Part 2

Sometimes I pee on my feet.


“Sometimes the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason” – Jerry Seinfeld


If you liked this post by The Troublesome Traveller, you might also enjoy 25 Reasons to Avoid World Travel

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