You know nothing about the struggles of experiencing a life of globetrotting unless you find yourself in a situation where you, your parents, your childhood friends, your extended family all live in different parts of the world.
Where are you meant to go for the holidays? How do you divide time between these places? How much should you pack if you go to all these places? How much will it cost?
For regular people travel there’s a set destination, and set plan ahead.
For us globetrotters that are used to traveling every few months overseas, we’re subjected to a life of uncertainty and instability. Then there are people that envy us for traveling so much. “Wow, you must get to see a lot of places! I’d trade anything to have a life like yours!” Would you, though?
Here are the most common struggles a globetrotter undergoes:
10) You grapple with long, constant bouts of jet-lag. You begin to think of your life as a series of elongated jetlags you’re battling.
Your internal body clock is fighting sleep at 3pm when all your friends are up and about, expecting you to make conversation with them. They’re so excited you’re back after so long and they’ve planned out an entire agenda for the rest of the day. What a delight, right? Wrong!
Right now, you’d kill to have a room to yourself because your eyelids are drooping, your cognitive processes are slowing down and your excitement to do anything else except sleep is close to a zero. You are a warrior, you remind yourself.
You pick your drooping limbs up, scuffle your feet across the floor and try your best not to ram into that pillar you could’ve sworn was never that close, plaster on a smile and for the sake of your friends, never once groan.Who knows when you’ll see them again?
Such opportunities are few for a globetrotter, who spends a limited amount of time in each place, so jetlag shoved aside, they’re acclimated to putting a life of social interaction, mingling and weeks worth of planning ahead of their craving to sleep.
9) People question your ease of slipping into different accents whenever convenient
Owing to interactions in different countries, you’ve begun to subconsciously slip into a country drawl to altering your accent to Irish-Persian depending on the person you’re talking to.
You’ve tried an amalgamation of your home accent with the one you use with your friends and it just hadn’t worked out in the past, imitation and mimicry became second skin to you.
Of course there are then people you have to explain to that you’re not trying to abandon your roots or culture, you’re just making it more comfortable for another person to take to you. And they do. Versatility is key.
8) Living out of a suitcase is hell
And you scowl at your friend that travels back home once in three years to see her grandparents about how “hard” it was to pack. Packing is a piece of cake for you. You now exactly what and in what quantity you are required to lug with you.
You don’t complain about living out of a suitcase because you’ve accepted that that is a way of life, so much so that you all year long, you just leave a few necessary garments in there knowing you’ll have to pack and leave elsewhere in a few more months anyway.
7) Airports are your second home
You never get caught at the airport for extra baggage, you’ve mastered the art of the maximum weight of your checked-in luggage and the time spent at the airport checking in goes zip-zap-zoom.
While there are frantic people searching for counters and speaking with airport staff, you’re practically standing there in pajamas and music in your ears.
You find a comfortable seat in the corner and take a long nap while the woman sitting next to you who’s panic stricken searching for her boarding pass is wondering how you do it.
You are a boss at the airport and you know it.
6) Goodbyes to you translate directly to “see you soon!”
You’re over the emotional goodbyes that involve handkerchiefs, lots of crying and mushy “take care!” texts because you know you’re going to see your family’s faces in another 6 months anyway.
One of the main struggles of leaving your family behind are:
5) The lack of homely comforts
Independence is a breath of fresh air but sometimes you want your stale, suffocating air back in the form of your family members.
You want to be fussed over when you’re sick, given good old home food that you groaned about so much when you were home and you especially miss the tenacious moral support your family always provided you with. The feels.
4) Your mental timezone calculating abilities become sharper
Best friend’s birthday on the 23rd when she’s in Manila and you’re in Boston? Check. You know better than to wish her wish her 12am on the 32rd Boston time when it will already be the 24th for her. Therefore, you wish her on the 22nd when it’s 12am on the 23rd in Manila.
At least your Math’s getting better.
3) Skype becomes your most used application
While there are other people staying invisible and going offline right after they’re done with their Skype conversations, you choose to stay online.
It might be 4am where you are but hey, that means it’s 8pm where one set of your friends are and you can’t miss out on talking to them so you just leave it on and linger online. You are the friend that’s perpetually ALWAYS online.
2) No time for dating
Forget one of those perfect move-style countryside romances they show where the guy and the girl are neighbors and grow up together to live happily ever after, you can’t hold onto a relationship for longer than a few weeks because you’ve been through this and you know how hard it is to maintain a relationship overseas, so you develop commitment-phobia over time and just resort to not dating.
You realize becoming one of those people that uses Tinder all the time in the future becomes a looming possibility. You can’t form emotional attachments when you’re always moving and the place you’re living in has an expiry date. Forget it. Therefore, you are usually the third wheel on your friends’ dates.
Then there are those friends spilling their relationship troubles to you and you’re sitting there shrugging it off because you have no experience whatsoever.
1) You have no idea what to say when people ask you where home is
Um, my birth country, the country I live in currently or the country I have the most friends in?
Do airplanes count?