Traveling abroad is both liberating and rejuvenating, even after the trip has concluded. If you’ve read my tips on what to do between trips abroad, you’ve got some useful advice, a lot more useful than a bag of M&M’s in a brushfire. What you should also know about is what to expect to hear before and after your trips. That's right, your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances are going to inquire about your travels, and not all of them are going to be supportive of your endeavors. If you're a neophyte to traveling abroad, you'll need to be prepared for numerous inquisitions; it's all part of taking the high road.
Here are the top things you are likely to hear before and after your trips abroad.
1. "You're a fucking asshole."
This may be shocking, but one of my friends, having since been relegated to acquaintance, was so pissed that I didn’t tell him I was going on a trip, and said I was an asshole for it. Never mind that he was and still is morbidly obese, married and couldn't afford to take any trips, anyway. He was content to take an occasional weekend trip to the Bay Area or L.A., and was too close-minded to be on my level. It's little wonder I didn't bother telling him, he was so negative and indignant. Who wants to travel, much less hang out with someone like that? Oh, and most importantly, I'm a grown man and don't need to ask permission or "run it by somebody" to go on a trip. Some people are so pissy and grumpy, a guy like me who puts in his time at work, takes a well-deserved and much needed vacation and then posts photos of the trip on a social network to "do the talking", is perceived by them as an asshole. Beware of people who say such things, they just want to bring you down to their level and see you failing miserably.
2. "Your photos are fake."
Believe it or not, there have been some people who thought that I posed in front of a green screen, that I never left town and found a local studio with a movie set backdrop. They accused me of this because the cameras I have used have been so high in quality, that in their eyes, they were too good to be true. As if shopping around for a quality camera is some sort of flaw. Such people might be joking with you, but then again, some people are that stupid and quite jealous.
3. "Why are you going all the way over there?"
Almost everyone I know is baffled as to why I travel halfway across the world to take a vacation. I've heard things like, "I thought Canada or someplace else in the U.S. would be cheaper, closer and a safer bet," and "Aren't you afraid of the violence over there and making yourself a target?" After thoroughly explaining to others that I travel at least halfway across the world to not only get as far away from the matrix as possible, but because I see the same nonsense and mediocre dating prospects all over the U.S., I still get the most asinine and irrational responses. These include the tired and annoying "Oh, you just haven’t found the right one yet," and "If you search in other parts of the country, you’ll have a better chance. Don't give up on the women here!" Amazing how the only perceived "alternative" to being happier abroad is continued tolerance of head games, obesity, tattoos and narcissism at home. All of these responses are meant to belittle and are an attempt to create self-doubt, so watch out.
4. "Can you buy me something while you're there?"
There's nothing wrong with bringing back some souvenirs for your friends and family. In fact, this is a time-honored tradition! But you have to do that on your terms. When people contact you before a trip, ASKING you to buy them something, it might be time to get some new friends. Before one of my trips, my father of all people, gave me a list of people who I didn't even know, to shop for. They were his friends and colleagues, and he thought it a grand idea for me to spend my vacation time shopping for them. I put my foot down and reminded him that I was going on vacation to take a vacation, not travel around the world to shop for strangers. As if MY vacation was earned so I could do something I don’t like to do, shopping. So, I’m supposed to take a vacation to shop for YOU? See how stupid that sounds? I even once had a friend ask me before a trip to Ukraine, "While you're in Russia, can check for therapeutic devices, laser, electrical stimulation, a weight loss center, etc." What the hell? Not only did they commit a geography faux pas, they wanted me to spend my vacation practically doing investigative journalism for them! What's next? Costa Ricans are Mexicans? This is Captain Holiday speaking, you are free to go on holiday and spend your time off the way you want, not the way others want you to.
5. "So, do you have a wife and kids over there that you don't tell us about?"
I was asked this question only after it was revealed that I had made yet another trip to the same part of the world. For the record, no, I don't have a wife and kids. Not anywhere. Period. This question was actually tongue-in-cheek, so don't be surprised if you get asked the same question as part of a good-natured ribbing. Although such a question kind of makes it sound like you're keeping a secret family that you're ashamed of, locked in the basement. It's all in good fun, but in all seriousness, if I were to get married and have kids, I sure as hell wouldn't do it in the States. That would be downright foolish of me to expose them to such a toxic culture.
6. "Do you have a second home or a castle in Romania?"
Again, more satire, but also metaphorical. This was most likely misinterpreted and thus, rumor spread that I had a second home in another country. In actuality, I've mostly rented apartments while traveling abroad, so I can understand how one can process the information incorrectly. Somewhere along the line, it gets interpreted that I own apartments in a foreign city, and before I know it, I'm someone who escapes to a posh and isolated location a thousand miles from nowhere. Well, I don't have an actual, physical second home abroad. Yet. But, wherever I travel that I feel a great vibe and deep connection, that in a sense, could be considered my second home, and that could be various places. If you ever get asked a question like this, it's just a form of flattery, but in a way it's a little bit of inspiration. Yeah, one can dream about owning property in another country, but everything starts with a dream.
7. "How do you get by with the language barrier and different alphabets?"
When you think about it, if someone asks you this question, technically they're assuming you're as dumb and ignorant as they are. Think about it. Well, I do make an effort to learn the local language of the country I'm visiting ahead of time. If I can't take an actual course at my local college or get some language-learning software, I'll at least get a dictionary and phrase book to practice with, days or weeks before I head to the airport. Most dictionaries and phrase books will have the alphabet that the language you are trying to learn, uses. By the way, that is a great way to pass the time on those long flights. You don't necessarily have to be the ultimate polyglot, but making an effort to communicate with the locals in their tongue with the basics, really does wonders.
8. "Why do you have to take such a long vacation?"
It's simple logistics, really. With few exceptions, a trip abroad cannot be accomplished in a weekend. I do not own a private jet that can leave at a moment's notice and I certainly am not qualified to operate a fighter jet. Also, I rarely call in sick, am always to work on time, am consistently meeting deadlines and always ahead on my work. I've earned it. So, not only do I have a lot of paid vacation hours saved up, but I'm giving myself at least two weeks to rest, recuperate and most of all, enjoy myself. Otherwise, what's the point of paid vacation if it just sits there unused? Party at least just as hard as you work, but don't get arrested.
9. "How do you afford such trips?"
I generally get exhausted explaining this to others, because I'm constantly asked this question. I guess in the eyes of others who haven't thought outside the box and ventured outside the matrix, far off places are only for the rich and famous. Seriously, read my article 10 Things You Can Do Between Trips Abroad. It's on this blog.
10. "When is your next trip?"
This question is almost always asked right after I get back home. I've barely had time to catch my breath and already it's assumed I've planned the next one like a true mastermind. In rare instances, I get the nasal "Where ya flyin' to?" when searching for airfares before a trip and someone else at work or an internet cafe is instantly taking a mighty big interest in my next destination. Once I was even asked when my next trip was going to be, right in the middle of my current trip. Look, I don't know when or where my next trip is going to be. Things like these take time to plan. That's the beauty and excitement of it. Something to look forward to. The world is my oyster.