Things I Miss After 9 Months of Budget Travel in Asia

We have been traveling now for 9 months. From the time we started traveling until now I could have gestated an entire human being. It turns out traveling is not so unlike pregnancy. They both cause aching backs, sore feet, weird food cravings, and sometimes vomiting. They both inspire amazement, excitement, and anticipation of what is to come next.

And travel, like pregnancy, can make you nostalgic for what life was like before. With pregnancy, it was a flat stomach, sleeping through the night, and not having to pee all of the time. Here are some things I miss from life before travel.

1. A comfortable bed
Cushy spring mattresses are not the norm in budget lodging in Asia. Hard spring mattresses or foam mattresses are common. The worst are the hard board-like mattresses covered in foam padding that has been squished flat.

2. Fluffy pillows
I am gleeful when we find a place to stay with fluffy pillows instead of flat ones or hard ones that feel like sleeping on a brick.

3. Reliably hot showers
This has been more of a problem in Sri Lanka and India than southeast Asia. Either there is no hot water, or only 5 minutes of hot water, or only hot water some hours of the day which are often not posted, so you have to guess. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes for the water to get hot at which point you have already given up on hot water and taken a cold shower. Or sometimes the water is difficult to adjust. It is either lukewarm or melting your skin off hot.

4. Showering barefoot
I have worn flip flops in the shower every day for the last 9 months. No matter how clean the bathroom seems (and sometimes it’s not very), I haven’t wanted to risk getting a foot fungus.

5. Brushing my teeth with tap water
It will seem strange when we get home to run my toothbrush under the tap. For 9 months I have brushed my teeth using bottled water.

6. A wide variety of food
I never realized before traveling long term how many different kinds of food are available in the US. Chinese food, Thai food, Indian food, Mexican food, etc. can all be easily attained in American cities. We have had amazing food while traveling in Thailand, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan, but we get bored and start fantasizing about other cultures’ food. In Thailand, we couldn’t wait to eat Indian food. In India, we miss Thai food. And I always we dream about big, juicy American cheeseburgers.

7. Decent wifi
Internet in southeast and south Asia ranges from not great to down right terrible. If I can get a youtube video to load in 20 minutes, I am ecstatic. I am thrilled if the pictures will load on facebook and instagram. Have you ever thought about how pointless it is to look at instagram with no pictures?

8. Public garbage cans
I have carried trash around with me for hours, waiting to find a waste bin to put it in. No wonder there is garbage all over the ground everywhere in this part of the world.

9. My own washer AND dryer
Laundry service is cheap and easy to find in south east Asia, but the results were always of questionable cleanliness and always air dried. In south Asia laundry costs more and is difficult to find. I am pretty sure our clothes are often washed in the bucket or at the river (but sometimes seem cleaner than the machine washed laundry).

10. Getting dressed up and doing my hair and makeup    

Between there not being enough room in my pack for nice clothes and hair styling equipment and the heat melting off my makeup, it is difficult to feel put together. Luckily all of the other travelers are in the same boat and the locals don’t seem to care. But I miss wearing nice clothes and getting dolled up for special occasions.

I know when I get home I will miss traveling. I will just have to console myself by lying in my comfy bed on my fluffy pillow in clean clothes (straight from the dryer) after taking a hot shower (barefoot, of course), and eating a cheeseburger while streaming an HD video. Afterwards I will brush my teeth with tap water,throw my garbage in a conveniently located trash can, blow dry my hair, and reminisce about how amazing it was to spend a year traveling the world with my family.


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