While I did a ton of awesome things in 2016, I’ll also admit that travel is not all rainbows and butterflies. There are a lot of times where you are pushed to your limits. There were moments spent crying in airports and nights spent hiding in my hostel. Here are my worst moments of 2016:
I didn’t plan my trip to Singapore very well. I didn’t convert any money before I left and my Malaysian debt card wouldn’t work in the ATMs. My American account didn’t have any money in it. I also didn’t really look up where my bus dropped me off at and just sort of assumed it would be near the subway. I also figured if I had any problems pulling out money, I could probably find some Wifi and call an Uber to get to my hostel, but I couldn’t find any wifi (not even the one at MacDonald’s was working). I didn’t realize at the time that most cab drivers took cards so after walking over a mile to the closest subway station and trying over a dozen ATMs, I figured I’d have to survive on what cash I had on me. Eventually I found an ATM for my bank which worked but I was nervous for a few hours.
Saying goodbye to a long term relationship
While not really travel related, this was definitely something difficult for me this year. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has been such a big part of your life for so long but it wasn’t working and we both knew it. A good amount of time has passed since but it was definitely one of my biggest challenges this year.
Feeling sick in Bangkok and not being the nicest travel companion
I still feel guilty for how rude I was being to my friends in Bangkok, I pretty much yelled at one of them. I felt sick (not that that’s an excuse) and didn’t really realize how bad I felt until a few days later, so I wasn’t fully aware of why I was acting so nasty. This is probably one of the reasons I like solo travel- I don’t have to feel bad about wanting to just lay in bed for the day.
I’ve got in two arguments with people traveling this year, well one argument and one, this women just doesn’t get it type of conversation. One was with a woman who thinks that everyone should know English so that everything is easier for her. And another who has a skewed view of countries in the Middle East and a very sad view of white people in America- this girl and I ended up arguing for over 2 hours in a bar and I still don’t fully get what I could have said to help her realizing how grouping people together and stereotyping them is not ok.
Watching Donald trump win the election
Election day was rough on many of us Americans and I realize now how much I should have toned down my pain in the moment. In KL the results were coming out around 1-3pm, which happened to be while I was teaching a student who is applying to go the college in the US. My coworkers and I felt so impacted by the results that we didn’t really fully think through how what we were saying was impacting my student. The results are not the end of the world- at the time they sure felt like it- and my reaction towards them was causing my student to full incredibly anxious. My student asked me how this is going to impact him and luckily it probably won’t have any huge impact on his experience because he’s Chinese-Malaysian whereas I think it will affect many of my Muslim students very differently. While I’m still anxious about Trump, I’ve also realized that we don’t need to panic- the world is not going to end.
Having the rebook my flight to Paris at the airport
It’s 8am, and I’m sitting in the check-in section of the airport after my 1am flight got so delayed that I would have missed my connection and been stuck in Shanghai for another day. I decided not to get on the flight which had left 6 hours late. After pulling my checked luggage off the plane, going back through immigration to get my bag and then trying to book another flight, I had no idea if they would refund my previous ticket and I still didn’t have a way to get to Paris. I bought a ticket online for the next available flight and was sitting on the floor waiting for the confirmation to go through. Over an hour passed as I waited for the confirmation. I watched the check-in counter closed- guess I wouldn’t be on that flight. I then walked over to the Emirates counter handed the women my card and said you have a flight to Paris in 2 hours, put me on it if you have any open seats. It was 11am by the time I got on my flight, I had been awake for over 24 hours and had been in the airport for 11 of them.
Having this creepy guy sort of follow me in Amsterdam
I have been lucky to have not had any really bad experiences as a solo female traveler. For the most part I really haven’t felt unsafe while traveling but this definitely the weirdest and creepiest experience I’ve had. I went to a Pub Crawl in Amsterdam. While talking to these girls, the guy next to me tries to strike up a conversation with me. We’re talking and I’m going through my head about why my gut instinct is to get away from him. Then I realize he keeps touching me, grazing my arm and such, and every time I move back a bit, he moves forward. I’m thinking, yep ok, I’m done talking to you. I turn around back towards the girls. Unfortunately, the group we were in was so big that they split us up into two groups, the girls in one, me and the guy in the other. Great. So at the next bar I made sure to find a new group to talk to that was far away from him. This seemed to work, he was kinda near me for the rest of the night but wasn’t trying to talk to me and I found a cool group of people to hang out with. Eventually, I walked back to my hostel, I didn’t think he was still in the group when I left but I didn’t check. Back at my hostel I’m about to open my door and I hear his voice; he’s standing right next to me. Apparently his room happened to be right across from mine, after he asked very directly for me to kiss him and me saying no, I was scared to open the door. So I stood there waiting for him to go in his room first. He obviously wasn’t going to do that, then I remembered I’m in a hostel (not an apartment) there are four other people sleeping in my room, there’s no one else is this hallway, it’s safer for me to open the door. I went inside as fast as I could and didn’t see him again.
While travel pushes us out of our comfort zone, I believe it’s worth it. In all it was a good year, I traveled to 10 different countries, experienced just as many cultures and loved most of it!