When taking a sabbatical or taking a year out travelling, the world is your oyster. However, there are many things that travellers find themselves doing over and over again. Enjoy our satirical look at common travelling clichés. I’ve never met a traveller who hasn’t done one of these!
1. Wear your undies inside out
The downside of travelling, you don’t always have time to catch up on your laundry. I’m sure most vagabonds and nomads have made one pair of undies last two days.
2. Wash your undies in the shower
When you do have a moment to rinse your shreddies, the shower is definitely more convenient than the launderette down the road.
3. Spend three weeks travelling with someone you only met last night
As a solo traveller this happened to me several times. You start chatting to another backpacker at a bar, ask where they are heading and decide to tag along. If you decide you no longer want their company simply change your route or move on with someone else.
4. Share a room with eight strangers
The joys of dorm rooms, sharing with a mix of characters usually including at least one snorer, an old bloke, the lads who just want to get smashed and the know-it-all. Which one are you? I couldn’t possibly comment on the women’s dormitory.
5. Take a shower outside in the rain
Especially in Asia the rain storms can be warmer and considerably more powerful than the shower in your cheap accommodation. So why not wash away the grime using the force of nature leaving you feeling invigorated.
6. Look to jump off or out of something
During a career break or long term sabbatical overseas you seem to develop the ‘exhilaration’ gene which places you in more exciting situations than of the mundane existence back home. Whether that is Skydiving, Bungee jumping or some other adventure sport. No surprise it happened to me in New Zealand.
7. Be more adventurous with food
The exhilaration gene kicks in when foreign delicacies are concerned. Scorpion on a stick? Deep fried crickets? Snake Wine? The list goes on. At home in front of the television a bowl of nachos will suffice, but not while you’re travelling. If it crawls, scurries or slithers, get stuck in.
8. Hire a scooter
Always seems like a good idea. The thought of riding off into the sunset with an attractive other holding you tightly as the wind rushes through your hair. Yet, in reality you are battered in the face by insects and at risk of losing a layer of flesh from your legs sliding on loose gravel. I’d do it again tomorrow.
9. Sleep under the stars
Ah, how romantic the night sky in full illumination as shooting stars race across the moonlit heavens. More like sand creeping into unmentionable places, waking with an achy back and sleep deprivation caused by the fear of creepy crawlies joining you under your blanket. Joking aside, sleeping under the stars is a wonderful experience, providing it doesn’t rain.
10. Midnight Skinny Dipping
The overwhelming sense of freedom flows through you as the warm water rolls over your naked torso. No doubt, you will also have a warm feeling inside, fuelled by the countless alcoholic beverages consumed causing you to be in this state of undress. My advice is don’t attempt this on an Antarctic cruise.
11. Wear fisherman pants
Fisherman pants should be standard issue the moment you set foot in Asia. This will take away the indecision of shall-I-shan’t-I purchase these ridiculous articles of clothing. Those that wear them insist they are very comfortable in hot climates, but then so is a see-through negligee but you wouldn’t see me wearing that either…honestly.
12. Join the mile high club
You might fantasize about it, indeed consider it, but actually doing it in the claustrophobic confines of the airline water closet is almost impossible, oh and it’s illegal. I’m sure some have tried it on Air New Zealand’s cuddle class.
13. Or on a beach
As a British couple found out a few years ago, getting caught has severe consequences especially in Dubai…and what about the sand in unmentionable places.
14. Teach English
You may not go for the full TEFL qualification, but it’s likely you may find yourself teaching some youngsters English. Foreign childrens’ hunger for learning is often insatiable and a great experience. Although, this is not to be recommended in the US or Australia as you might provoke an unwanted reaction!
15. Read a relevant book
Confession time, yes I’ve read Alex Garland’s The Beach on Ko Pha Ngan, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air on the way to Everest Base Camp and William Sutcliffe’s Are You Experienced? travelling around India. Does reading these in the location enhance your travelling experience? Probably not, but do it anyway.
16. Keep a diary
Every night you religiously note down pearls of wisdom from the days events, stapling ticket stubs and other paraphernalia to each page. The diary is a fabulous keepsake of your travels that will eventually gather dust on a bookcase next to your Lonely Planets. But when take a glance from time to time the memories will come flooding back.
17. Climb a mountain
That ‘Exhilaration’ gene kicks in again. If you can climb it, you probably will, and why? Because it’s there, of course. Whether it’s Kala Patar in Nepal or even a hill station in North Vietnam you will most likely dig out the crusty walking boots and start hiking early in the morning to get that all important photo of the view at the top.
18. Experience the local horticulture
Obviously thedepartureboard does not condone the use of drugs, other than for medicinal purposes of course. Yet, it’s likely you will encounter some local herbal delicacies on your travels. If you choose to partake be sure to understand the penalties if caught, as I hear the Bangkok Hilton is nice this time of year!
19. Live out of one bag
Your rucksack contains all your worldly possessions while travelling. The key is to take as little as possible and buy clothing and items when needed, thus keeping the pack light and portable and making the whole process of living out of one bag easier.
20. Find yourself
After all this was the reason you went travelling in the first place, right? After all these years I’m still searching. Not sure what for, but I’m looking!
21) Pee in a bottle
I’m not referring to some drunken party game, but when the weather is too cold outside or you simply can’t be bothered to use the outside lavatory. Obviously directed at men, a water bottle would be an appropriate receptacle, jut don’t wake up parched and gasping for a drink!
22) Have a McDonald’s
After travelling for some time the lure of the golden M will become too strong as you long for a reminder of home. Obviously, you will convince your travelling companions you are researching the Big Mac prices around the world. Also the temptation to ‘Go Large’ will plague your inner thoughts.
23. Sh*t through the eye of a needle
Apologies for the crass language. Sure this will happen at home, although the chances of getting ‘Delhi Belly’ on the road is considerably higher and quite an experience while pissing rusty water through your arse on a five hour bus journey.
24. Barter for 30p
That 30p will make all the difference in the end! It’s a matter of principle, you are travelling in a relatively cheap country and the cheeky market trader is trying to charge you more than what a local will pay. It doesn’t matter, move on.
25. Ride in some unsafe mode of transport
Tuk Tuks, Rickshaws and a large proportion of taxis on the African continent could probably be classed as unsafe. They are either driven at breakneck speed by a driver with a death wish or are mechanically unsound; the vehicle that is not the driver. Another opportunity for that exhilaration gene to get excited.
26. Have a massage
You will lose count of how many massage propositions you receive on the beaches of Asia. Most likely on at least one occasion you will concede and find yourself facedown on a towel distressed…sorry de-stressed.
27. Book a train journey just to have somewhere to sleep
Prolonged travel ensures you keep a tight grip on those purse strings. So an overnight train or coach trip kills two birds with one stone, giving you somewhere to sleep and also carrying on your journey. But beware; do keep a tight grip on that purse as you may be susceptible to thieves and the trip may end up costing you more than you bargained for.
28. Buy counterfeit t-shirts
Travelling light means picking up cheap clothing along the way. Part of the backpackers get-up is fake branded t-shirts such as Red Bull energy drinks or Beer Chang and not forgetting the classic slogan “Sex Instructor: First Lesson Free”. Classy!
29. Have your photo taken
‘I’ve have my photo taken at home’ you may cry, but not with locals wanting a mobile phone picture with themselves and a strange looking visitor in their village. Not even in Norfolk!
30. Phone home asking for money
When money starts to run out and the prospect of returning to mundane society and full time employment looks likely, simply ring home and sound pleased to talk to your folks, then discreetly slip into the conversation ‘Dad, please can you send some more cash….’. And when asked where it has all gone don’t mention the Skydiving, horticulture, counterfeit t-shirts, massages, scooter hire, fisherman pants…
How many travelling clichés have you done? I will admit to 24…but I’m not saying which ones. What else would you add to this list?
by Si Salter