Top 10 Unexpected Changes Due to Long-Term Travel

by Jason -- January 26, 2010

There have been a number of changes that have occurred to me as a result of quitting my job, selling my stuff and moving to Asia for at least a year. Some of them have been rather unexpected. The following is a list of those unexpected changes.

  1. My tolerance for what’s considered “dirty” and what’s considered “smelly” in terms of clothes has gone considerably down.
    Choosing what to wear on a daily basis comes down to the smell test. The problem, though, is what I would consider to be smelly and un-wearable a couple months ago now probably has a couple more days of wear left… Steps left to become a full-on hippy: grow dreads and stop wearing deodorant.
  2. Having the shower soak the entire bathroom is par for the course.
    Nearly every shower we’ve encountered in our hotel rooms are not your typical Western showers where the shower is enclosed by itself. The shower walls are instead the entire bathroom.
  3. I have a confession to make — I litter… a lot.
    I do it almost every day now. I assure you though, it’s no big deal. When garbage sweepers are only a couple hours away from sweeping up your litter, the world is your trash can.
  4. I know Celsius!
    I remember traveling to Europe for the first time and hearing the temperature and having absolutely no clue what 28 degrees means. I still don’t have the same sense as I do with Fahrenheit, but it’s getting a lot better. Now if I could learn that whole Kilometer and Kilogram thing…
  5. Mosquito bites don’t bother me much anymore.
    At the beginning of the trip, nothing was more of a nuisance than the constant mosquito bites. Now… no big deal. I consistently have between 2 and 15 bites on my body. I put a little itch cream on and they go away.
  6. Learned to ride a motorbike.
    This one is just plain awesome. Riding a motorbike is a ton of fun. I never would have thought I would have the courage to rent and ride one, but it’s surprisingly easy and the craziness of the traffic from the sidewalk is a lot easier to deal with once you’re actually in it.
  7. I have gotten very used to constant small stomach aches.
    Not being on any sort of regular diet leaves me with pretty regular small stomach aches. They’re not too terrible and after three months of them, I’m just used to it.
  8. Whenever we buy sunscreen the first question we ask is: does it have whitener?
    I had no clue whitener even existed before this trip began. People in Asia value fair skin while the opposite is true in the West. Now, it’s the first thing I look for when buying sunscreen. I want a tan!
  9. Every time I use a toilet, the first thing I wonder is if the toilet paper goes into the bowl.
    It’s strange how natural this has become. But here, the answer is the paper goes into the trash, not the toilet most of the time. The pipes just can’t handle the TP.
  10. Speaking of toilets…Squat toilets? No big deal!
    The first time I used a squatting toilet, it felt like a workout — my thighs were burning, I was sweating and I had to take a break in the middle (too much detail, I know). Now – I’m still not a pro, but my squat is definitely a lot more comfortable and it no longer feels like a workout.

It will be fun to add to this list as the trip progresses. Looking forward to many more unexpected changes!

Photo credit (squat toilet): Roadfood

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7 Responses to “Top 10 Unexpected Changes Due to Long-Term Travel”

  1. My mom has the whitner sunscreen too! from Thailand. She brought it with us to Hawaii this last time and I couldnt stop laughing…. wierd! also, the squatting toliet. I dont know how you are getting used to it! Has Sharon mastered the squat?

  2. More detail of #10 due to your unexpected changes would be dandy ?

  3. I’m glad you call this a vacation. I would call it tormenting to the western soul! Please don’t ask for explainations! Please don’t litter! Please spare the toilet paper! You can keep the mosquitoes!

  4. Uncle Louis - All part of the experience!

    Sarah - I doubt you want more detail!

    Holly - Sharon may not want to admit it…but yes, I do believe she’s feeling quite comfortable with the squat as well.

  5. Funny how white people want to get tan and dark people use whitener.

  6. I love this article very true!

  7. […] previously wrote a “Top 10 Unexpected Changes Due to Long Term Travel“, and now that we’ve settled down in Korea, there have been a whole slew of new additions […]

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