The Ugly Truth of Traveling

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We often glorify travelling, myself included, yet, the truth is that between all the wonderful sights, tastes, cultures, and new friends discovered; is a substantial amount of misery. Hours of waiting, fee after fee after fee, and stress accumulate quickly. I am fortunate because most times I am solo. I could not imagine dealing with someone else’s bullshit and/or children as well.

We tend to only document and share the best of times, making sure to cut out the billboards, tourists and pollution out of every photo. We downplay the family squabbles and arguments with our significant others and friends, emphasizing all the ‘special moments’.

This is not about complaining, just revealing the ugly truth that is travelling. I am sure we have all dealt with this on a weekend getaway, road trip or going overseas. So how do we cope? Well obviously the ‘special moments’, epiphanies, and the wonderful blah blah blah make up for it… Or does it?

I think the disappointing part is how materialistic most endeavors have become. This struck me when I was waiting in a very long line at the Lisbon Airport. There was next to nothing advertising about the astounding culture, people, language, and rich history that truly makes Portugal so special. Instead, bright ‘Duty Free’ and ‘Currency Exchange‘ signs littered the space, as well as the abundance of advertising glorifying the seventy shops and forty restaurants that populated the monstrosity that is the airport. My only question is, ‘Why?’

As I mentioned, Portugal has so much more to offer. I hardly noticed any authentic Portuguese cuisine, besides pastries that are hardly anything special. What stuck out more were the crappy sandwiches and waygu beef burgers that cost 14 euros or more advertised and stationed every other terminal. So my only answer to why it is more difficult to find unique flavors and products, as opposed to the overwhelming abundance of corporate, mundane products is because we support it.

We have surrendered to what is, instead of changing. We have the option to stock up on delicious, local goods, like I had prior to arriving at the airport (at half the price as well), but we chose not to and then we complain about the insane price we pay for rubbish. We have folded to corporate interest. And we continue to allow it at every turn.

I had a friend once say to me that the only option is big business, so we have to give in. Bullshit. As long I live and breathe we do not have to surrender to anyone. Yes, corporate interests have completely dominated many markets; however, we as individuals still exist and with that means there are other options. Buying local and investing into small business, ‘Ma and Pa’ shops, is still an option. Even beyond that, we have the ability to grow our own food and cook it as well.

Overall, the people choose what stays and what goes. If we care enough to see local, small business thrive, then it will happen. If we care enough to breathe clean air, pick up our trash, recycle, and seek alternative eco-friendly resources, then it will happen. And if we care enough to see the natural beauty Mother Earth has granted us for ages, removing the billboards, advertising, and reducing the concrete that is continuously being poured, then it will happen.

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