When traveling sucks

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When a cheap flight seems too good to be true, its usually because it is. Rebecca and I were driving back to Zagreb on our last night when she asked me what time I was arriving at JFK. I told her Monday morning. She thought it was weird that I was traveling for 24 hours. I told her it was the time difference, but alas even with a 6 hour time difference I couldn't find where to justify the other 6 hours that were missing.

I checked my ticket and realized my layover in Istanbul was 18 hours long. I stayed quiet and quickly accepted this mistake. 

I'm not a pushover by any means but I do value my peace more than the worrying over things I cannot change. So while Rebecca's voice got louder and her pitch higher, I laid the passenger seat all the way down and searched for hostels in Istanbul.

 "Do you need a visa to get into Turkey?" She screeched. Quickly switching apps from Hostel World to Safari, I ordered my visa and notified her that if she wanted to go to Turkey to tell me before November because that's when my visa expires.

Before this, the excitement to get home was brewing within me. Our trip had been incredible but it wasn't a vacation. I am exhausted and feel as though someone took a bat to my body every night. Finding out I had another night in another country—alone—was the last thing I wanted.

But I thought about my favorite quote by Anthony Bourdain "Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart..."  Right now I am not pretty. I am hunched over manspreading on two seats at the airport with two oranges in my front shorts pockets, no make up, hair in a greasy low bun and elbows resting on my knees. I'm basically on the toilet before a shower but clothed. 

I am definitely not comfortable— as I really should be on the toilet because I really gotta pee but don't want to scare the old couple in front of me by approaching them to ask if they can watch my bag.

It does hurt, 10 days in a car and awful hostel beds takes its toll on your body. And it did break my heart: if you saw the Aussie men I cliff dived with, you'd understand.

"...But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."

I am okay. I am changed, I am taking memories home and new eyes and heart for another part of the world. And by my own selflessness I am leaving the Australians to further grace Croatia with their perfection.

A lot of people have been asking me for advice on travel. I am beside myself that they want my recommendations. Really, why anyone would ask me how to do anything is mind-blowing. But happy to advise I want to begin with one thing: don't expect perfection. Travel is messy, exhausting, and complicated. You probably won't have the perfect anything. But life isn't perfect either. For both are about the sweet moments in between the discomfort and complications that make them worthwhile.

Wrapping up our adventure in the Balkans my best piece of advice is this: there is no wrong or right choice, there are just choices. You pick one and keep moving. Don't be discouraged by the bumps on the road, they're usually the best part or at least lead to them. And finally one quote from my travel mentor that I always keep in my heart— you can't plan a good time, it just happens.

Man spread and all, I am patiently waiting for my flight to Turkey before closing the book on this adventure. My exhaustion: a token of accomplishment, my hair: collateral damage, my heart: full.

How do you say I'm sorry in Turkish because I have a feeling that's all I'll really need to know. 

Your friend forever,

Victoria

Victoria Boustani