Dealing with the Side Effects of Long Term Travel: A Failure's Guide


I was in the bathroom this morning getting ready to go to the supermarket with Ricky. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and some slide-on shoes. My hair went into a ponytail, with a headband to keep back the flyaways. I slapped on some mascara and some deodorant and was ready to go.

And then it hit me.

Nothing has changed.

During the nine months we were traveling I looked pretty much the same—ponytail (when my hair was long enough), t-shirt, simple shoes, tiny bit of makeup, and looking barely presentable to go into public. 

I realized that I was living the side effects of long term travel. They are unavoidable.  Sometimes I find myself forgetting to change clothes after a couple of days.  I have to remind myself to change my shirt. I forget that I can do laundry when I want, and I have enough clothes to wear while I wait for other ones to dry.

And days like today I forget that I’m not traveling anymore and I can actually take a little bit of time to style my hair (though I’m getting close to chopping it all off again), or put on some makeup, or even make better clothing choices.

One thing that Ricky and I both suffer with as a side effect of traveling is that we’ve forgotten the value of money. We’ve used so many different currencies while constantly mentally changing it over to dollars or Euros that we forget what things are actually worth. That resulted in a lot of stupid purchases when we first got to Beijing. We spent 1200 rmb for curtains and 550 for a rug. That’s about $300 dollars that we actually needed to spend on things we, you know, need. 

And it’s a constant thing.  Our priorities are pretty messed up right now, because what we valued while we were traveling (the occasional ice cream, a nice meal to keep us sane after days of fried rice), isn’t what we should value now. We spend too much money on McDonald’s because we can, when we really don’t want to spend any more money than we have to for dog food.

Basically we are terrible people with imaginary money to burn.

 So hopefully we’ll get a handle on this real-people thing we call life and I might actually put on some make up or do something with my hair.



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