Positive ways to deal with Travel Negativity

Living the life of a world traveler seems glamorous, never-ending and one that is envied by many. Often do we always try to label ourselves with titles such as “Traveler”, “Backpacker”, “Glampacker”, or “Lost in Translation.” Travelers can hold a multitude of titles, but we forget we all started off as human individuals. Whatever path it took us to find this travel lifestyle became one that we chose to follow and enjoy along the way. Yet, it is often misunderstood or regarded as a “phase”  that should come to an end. Whether you call it envy or an unaccepted theory, travelers often find themselves explaining why they do what they do.

My Personal Story

Personally, I shared bits and pieces of my story at my presentation in Amsterdam last month about Discovering Myself, The Netherlands and Other Places. More recently, I’ve returned to the place I was born and raised and have now grown up from. There is something heartbreaking about touching down at Newark Airport and not feeling a single thing, other than feeling you left your “new home” for this place. Nor could I not feel any worse about the guilt of mixed emotions; being happy to see my family again, but feeling utterly miserable that my travels would be on hold and my new life abroad would be 6 hours and over 3,000km away.

In my heart, the decision to live and study abroad has probably been in my mind since that awkward 16-year old shrieked upon arrival at Madrid Barajas Airport and told her then best friend she had to find a way to do this for the rest of her life. Now, I find myself enamored with another country, another lifestyle and a person that is located in that place.


My heart belongs in Holland. (At Scheveningen, The Netherlands)

Let the hate game begin. I’ve encountered lots of negativity against my life travels. Upon the resonance of the following statements:

  • How do you afford to travel so much? What exactly are you doing to make money?
  • Are you ever going to finish school? You’re wasting time.
  • You’re only moving there for your boyfriend; you have no interest in that place.
  • Are you thinking about getting a real job and actually starting your life?

A Puerto Rican girl with a quick temper could easily punch someone in the face with those sorts of questions being asked.

I’ll say it here and say it now: Yes, I have made a decision that I will move to The Netherlands and make an oranje life of stroopwafels, a Master’s program in Dutch Studies, the NS high rail speed trains and many gezellig people.

Luckily, with my European spirit and my buddy Ganesha, I’m able to deal with the constant negativity and focus on the long term picture. By doing and understanding these following things, I feel balanced.


Ganesha by elycefeliz

Traveling is not meant for everyone

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could feel as ecstatic as travelers do about travel? To understand how life enriching, therapeutic and overall fun it can be. I consider myself lucky to have traveled and to involved my work and leisurely activities around gallivanting around the world. But, not everyone enjoys travels. There are always downsides to backpacking and other forms of travels. Not everyone has the soul of a vagabonder to live out of a backpack; even I myself was an awkward traveler who felt misunderstood. For Americans especially, it isn’t really in our culture to take gap years or to be surrounded by world travelers. Luckily, people like ourselves are trying to change that image!

Expect Respect

If traveling is not meant for everyone, you’d expect people to respect your life choices, right? It’s easy for others to feel envious of your life path. Your best friend might be the hardworking 9-5 girl by choice; struggling to earn vacation days while you’re refreshed from a sun kissed trip to the Caribbean for work. Just because they are upset about your scenario doesn’t give them the (human) right for them to be mean towards you. How many times have you had people question your travels on your latest Facebook status? Ever have someone think you’re out of this world for wanting to live abroad?

Try to compromise an understanding; let them know their criticism hurts you and doesn’t feel very supportive. Your life choices are your own regardless of your personal relationships and those choices should be at least respected by those you love.

Indulge in interests beyond travel

When I’m not traveling, I am dancing!

It’s easy to find yourself becoming that friend that always talks about travel. Whether you end up boasting about how awesome it was to teach in Costa Rica or how Thai food in Thailand is just so much better than New York Thai, it happens to travelers without even noticing. Try to remember the elements of why you like travel to begin with. Perhaps you’re the historically cultural tourist who is fascinated by old buildings and informative museums. Or, you’re a glampacker impressed by international fashion and must have one clothing item from every trip you’ve made.

Apply those interests in other forms when you’re not traveling or discussing non-travel related topics. Challenge yourself even more and try going an entire day without mentioning travel. (This could be difficult, even for myself!)

Build a network of travel friends

Building a network of travel friends at TBU 2011

Often, I’ve found myself joking around that I have more friends across the globe than in my own hometown. (Which is New York City; with 8 million inhabitants, how is that possible.) Simple: Our connection of sharing travel experiences, rants about packing and unpacking or sharing stories about long distance love are topics not everyone can easily relate to. My network of travel buddies is one I am not only fortunate to have, but is crucial to my inner being. Simple conversations about these topics make me feel like I’m not so crazy after all. They are a vital source for travel insight or personal balance when you need someone to relate to.

Be a well rounded traveler and human being

Leaving JFK Airport

Sometimes, a backpacker has to use a suitcase

Travelers can easily be called the most well rounded human beings on the planet. Backpackers especially are looking for the unbeaten path; wild adventures and unique experiences worth sharing with others. With all the above mentioned, it’s important to stay balanced in all aspects of life; whether you are traveling or not. Be considerate of others not traveling; support their upcoming #RTWsoon‘s or those like myself ranting on twitter about wishing they were back in a place. Remember to be graceful and loving to those who have supported you, like your family who may/may not understand why you travel, but are still a part of you no matter where you go. Life is about balance, or simply:

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.”-Betsy Jacobson

20 Comments to “ Positive ways to deal with Travel Negativity”

  1. TravelnLass says :

    “Challenge yourself even more and try going an entire day without mentioning travel. ”

    Thanks for that reminder, Teresa. No doubt we travelers (or any such passion, be it techno, travel, or stamp collecting) get a bit caught up in our fervor and forget that others aren’t hanging on our every travel story. Though travel will ever be my greatest passion, “balance” is indeed the key.

    Also, respect for other folks’ life choices, be it a 9-5 in a cubicle (hey, who knows? there must be SOME redeeming perks in that, no?) and/or settling down w/ a picket fenced house in the suburbs, a dog and taking the kids to soccer.

    Not for me, but I support and respect their choices, and fully understand that my crazy vagabond lifestyle surely isn’t for everybody.

    1. AOBteresa says :

      Much appreciated the great feedback! I myself can be the crazy vagabond, the slave to the suitcase, or just a travel obsessed tourist. Multiple roles, but hey… its all for travel!

      For some, that dream is of the picket fenced house and I applaud them for following that dream because it is theirs and just because there are a bigger percentage of people following that dream, doesn’t mean mine are so far fetched. 🙂

  2. Kit Whelan says :

    Great article! Always good to remind ourselves that there is a world outside of travel and we need to be gracious to everyone, even those who aren’t super-supportive of our lifestyle. Thanks 🙂

    1. AOBteresa says :

      I gotta kick myself in the butt all the time to remember to think about what else I like besides travel. Just joined a field hockey team actually 🙂

  3. Acceleratedstall says :

    We have to remember that travel is often overwhelming for people. Because of that, they have difficulty in fathoming the concept of wanting to check out the grass on the other side of the fence. Kudos for following your heart and needs and remembering to be gracious and understanding when others may not be.

    1. AOBteresa says :

      EXTREMELY well said. I think you illustrate the other side of the opinion very well. It can be so hard to imagine what I thought of travel before I became a traveler and this your statement reminds me of this so much. Hence why, for the most part, I brush off the negativity and remember to just breathe and accept it and try not to fight it too much.

  4. Terry Lee says :

    Many of us do understand and share your passion for travel – keep following your dreams. Oh and come back to Europe we won’t judge you. Terry

    1. AOBteresa says :

      One of my favorite Europeans! You know my spirit belongs there and I have nothing else to do but follow it! Crossing my fingers, my hair and toes to make it by 2012!!! 🙂

  5. Marina Reede says :

    LOVE your thoughts and your writing here. i was blessed to travel to 20 counries from the ages of 14 – 31…now i’m a single mom. i adore travelling and hope to get back to it this year! i’m choosing it! (but i did live in miami and the keys so that is like being in another country!) we can’t let others get to us by their petty little fears, even if they are our family members. we have to live out loud, live what’s in our hearts. i love connecting with so many others, be it near or far! yay for you! keep doing what your heart tells you to do!

    1. AOBteresa says :

      Thank you so much Marina! I think it is so great that you have traveled as well. I am beyond fortunate and blessed for all of my travel experiences and I want to infect everyone with the travel bug. Even a trip to Miami felt like a new great place to live; I do really love the vibe there!!

  6. Paul says :

    Great article and I can relate to some of your points. Though I’ve spent most of my life in the UK, the time spent living and working in New Zealand felt more like home.

    Like you, I now have more friends half way around the world than I do in my own country 🙂

    1. AOBteresa says :

      Agreed! I was kind of on this search for a place abroad that would feel like home… and somehow… Holland is… even without the boyfriend! It’s a fun/challenging/strange place I enjoy everyday! hahaha. Although… I can EASILY call Aruba home as well!

  7. Claire says :

    Really great post, and one that I think many of us can identify with. I get the “you’re married now, shouldn’t you be settling down?” Or worse, “how are you going to have a kid if you are always going on a trip?” Both comments make me also want to punch the person in the face 😉

    1. AOBteresa says :

      YES! Shoot! I forgot to touch up on that… My Puerto Rican family (The non-immediates) think it is so strange that I am not married with kids yet. They think I am spoiled goods sometimes and that chasing this travel dream is a bit crazy. I know it is embedded in the culture though.

  8. Annie says :

    I have really been enjoying your posts and your story Teresa! You have made some really great points here and have brought up a subject that every traveler deals with. Some people don’t dream of travel and that’s okay but the one’s that do and think it is impossible just can’t seem to grasp that you are doing exactly what they want, without special circumstances!

    Most of my friends are just happy for me at this point but when I first left for Italy I got a lot of that same crap. The truth was that I wasn’t interested in Italy and I was just coming here for my boyfriend. I’m still here and I have grown to love it. You are clearly interested in Holland, so I’m not sure where your friends came up with that one!

    Good luck! Enjoy your new home!

    1. AOBteresa says :

      Thank you so much! I felt really motivated to write this; not only to address people personally, but I can imagine people go through the same sentiments.

      Agreed! A girl wouldn’t just haul and move to another country if she didn’t like it just a bit, right? I hope they do support and even come to visit; no harsh feelings!

  9. God I hear the “Shouldn’t you get a real job” thing alllllll the time! Society just doesn’t understand the concept of not having a regular 9-5 job, which is sad because there is nothing that would depress me more!

    I also have to agree that there aren’t quite any friends like travel friends! You meet so many wonderful people from all over the place and instantly have something wonderful you can relate on!

    1. AOBteresa says :

       Story of my life! I know you absolutely understand! I appreciate my friends who get the travel thing and don’t; like I said, just respect my path 🙂

  10. zablon mukuba says :

    interesting ways to deal with negativity, i try not to let guys get under my skin