The Not-So-Glamorous Side of Travel Vol. 1

There’s certainly a lot to love and appreciate about traveling the world, exploring new cultures, trying new foods, and making new friends. Travel certainly has its fair share of downsides, time sucks, and disappointments though, and today I’m going to share some of those experiences with you.

Click here to read Volume 2.

Kyoto Fuji

Saying hello to Fuji-san on the train ride into Kyoto

Destroying My Image
With wet hair pulled back in a semi-functional ponytail and pajamas consisting of leggings, shorts, and a t-shirt, I turned to head back inside the apartment building when I realized I forgot the key — to the main entrance and my personal apartment. Cue panic attack.

In the effort to complete simple chores as a respectful guest of my AirBnB host, I had turned my brain off for the evening which left me outside without a phone, a way back in, and any sense to outsiders that I belonged. Upstairs, I had collected all the trash to take down to the dumpster outside. It seemed like such a simple task. Why I chose to do so with wet hair and pajamas, leaving the apartment door unlocked behind me is a new level of absurdity for me.

In that moment, without my phone, I was helpless. My host wouldn’t be home from work for another 4 hours, and I wasn’t about to sit outside and wait for that long. What other choice did I have but to ring the buzzer of a random apartment to help me? With the easiest access to the front door and ability to see the desperate situation I was in, apartment 101 was the obvious choice. I rang the buzzer twice without answer, and just as I was about to move on to 102, a young man’s voice came over the intercom. With a combination of a quivering voice, broken Japanese, and English, I explained that I had locked myself out and needed to get back to my 4th floor apartment. Despite using English, it took him a couple minutes for him to figure out I didn’t fully understand Japanese. Finally, I saw the door to the apartment swing open, and a few curious heads peek around the corner to get a look. The young man smiled and graciously opened the door for me.

Kyoto AirBnb

Balcony view from my AirBnb apartment

Even though I’m fairly certain I interrupted their dinner, everyone had a good laugh, asked me where I was from, and simply assumed I was new to the building. I’m so grateful they didn’t make it a bigger deal than it was and chose not to question me too much.

After saying thank you and bowing 10 times in a row, I sprinted back upstairs, locked the apartment door behind me, crashed on the floor with my arm over my eyes, and tried to get a grasp of what had just happened. I could get away with something like that back in New York without much damage done to the ego, but in Japan, to ring a random apartment is considered rude. It certainly wasn’t my proudest moment, but at least now I’ve got a good story to tell.

Full Moon
Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, between NYC and Ireland, people were finishing their in-flight dinners and making their rounds to the bathroom. I was given the green light indicating a vacant restroom so I seized my opportunity. When I went to open the door, I realized the bathroom was, in fact, NOT vacant, and I was unexpectedly greeted with a full moon (get it?). Apparently, one guy thought he could pee quick enough without having to lock the door behind him. To be quite honest, I wasn’t even phased by it and was just glad he was peeing instead of something else. I quickly shut the door, he locked it, and came out 2 seconds later. We exchanged awkward smiles and went about our business.

PSA: No matter how quick you think you can get in and out of the bathroom, do your fellow flyers a favor and just lock the door behind you.

Making origami cranes at Nikko Sumica Hostel

Making origami cranes at Nikko Sumica Hostel

Hole-y Experience
Upon arrival at my hostel in Nikko, Japan, I was invited to attend a koto (Japanese harp) performance with two of the staff members. Fast forward to the start of the performance, where I somehow discovered a hole in my jeans where I really did’t want it. At that point, I had probably already eaten a lifetime supply of udon and my pants just could accommodate my food baby anymore. I just prayed the hole hadn’t been there for days, but nobody will ever know when it happened. During the 2 hour performance, we had to sit on our knees the whole time, and even though it’s such an uncomfortable position to sit in, at least nobody could see the rip. The minute I got back to the guesthouse, I ran upstairs, changed pants, and said good riddance to my jeans. I was left with only one pair of long pants, and they would have to hold out until I got home. Thankfully, they did.

Albuquerque panorama

Albuquerque panorama

Learning to Walk
For those who know me well, I hurt myself doing the simplest things. “How’d you get that scab on your knee?” “Oh, I just tripped on plain sidewalk.” It’s true. When I recently went to visit my friend Paloma in New Mexico, we had just finished dinner at a fantastic Asian restaurant, and as we were walking back to the car, I tripped on the sidewalk, fell all the way to the ground, and rolled over laughing. Clearly, I don’t walk much. I’m not suave enough to come back from a moment like that so I’m grateful that she, along with people in a window seat in the neighboring restaurants, was there to laugh along with me.

Embarrassing moments roll off of me a lot easier than when I was a teenager. Now, I appreciate, embrace, and sometimes even go out of my way to make a fool of myself. It gives me a good laugh and reminds me of what it is to be human.

Tell me some of your not-so-glamorous travel stories in the comments below.

Leave a Reply