Many people will hate me for what I am going to say. But here I am going to say it: I really hate traveling. So here, I said it. Go ahead and unfriend me.
I travel often, or I used to before Covid. And now that I started to travel again after Covid, I remember now why I hate it. So let me explain. Let's start from my own beloved country, Jordan.
In Jordan, which is still considered in Level 4 in the famous book Factfulness. The same level as many European countries, in terms of quality of living. Traveling is considered luxury. Only the top 5% or even less can afford doing that every few years. Not only because of financial hurdles, but also because of the complexity involved in the process, and the uncertainty of life in general. Jordan thankfully enjoyed decades of peace in a shitty region. So people still have bad thoughts about where this might go from here, and are not willing to spend money on traveling, unless it's for immigration.
While Jordanians used to travel at least to some neighboring countries in the last decades, the small list got even smaller due to wars and problems in the middle east. But if you want to travel further than that, then good luck with the Visa process. Which, believe me, has gotten really complicated for some destinations. Especially to European countries with their bureaucracy.
But back to the financial aspect of traveling, in Europe, people might be spending a few months of savings on a trip, while in Jordan, it might be years of savings, in case there was savings at all !! Not a surprise, considering that Amman is usually in the top 3 most expensive Arab cities to live in.
But hey, we are here to talk about traveling. Right? When I was a kid, I was super jealous of anyone traveling anywhere. It sounded pure luxury to me. I really wanted to travel. I wanted to see different countries and experience more of life. The furthest cities I visited back then were Al-Tafila, and Irbid. Yeah, those are also in Jordan.
Traveling and planning for it can be a skill. And as I just explained to you, I didn't come from a culture of traveling, at least back then. The first time I traveled I was 17 years old, simply because I got a free ticket and invitation from Abu Dhabi TV channel.
The situation in Jordan has changed much since then though. And people travel more often now. Especially the younger generation, who luckily believe that life is short, and spending money on new experiences is better than saving for the future. Thanks for the peer pressure that is coming from Social Media. But I can't agree more with them. Older people unfortunately still don't feel comfortable doing this, even if they can afford it. It's not part of their mentality. They also lived much more difficult lives back then.
Fast forward 19 years. I am now in my late thirties (why God why?). I live and work in Europe, and have already discovered all the endless possibilities of traveling. I traveled more and more to see what I was missing in the first decades of my life. Very close and beautiful cities nearby. I can ride the bus for 5 hours, and get to almost 7 countries from where I live. I can travel by plane for 2 hours, and reach anywhere in Europe, mostly even without a passport control. My residency in Europe gave me access to countries more than my Jordanian passport. Amazing right? but, yeah, well, .... I hate traveling now.
Back in 2012, when I was already one year in Europe, I went to Paris for the first time. It took me some time to plan for this trip, because I wasn't used to such planning. I was also a student, so I had to plan my spendings well. Paris is expensive after all. I was nervous about traveling alone back then, but super excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower. After hours of bus, subway, airport, plane, airport, subway ...... , and then that moment when I left the subway station, I saw the tower for the first time. It was unforgettable. I am not going to lie, I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. I might have forgotten to breathe for a few minutes. I took hundreds of photos, and asked 213 tourists to take a photo of me. I didn't have a smart phone back then to take a selfie. For sure, it was one of the best moments in my life. 15 minutes passed. ok, now what, it's getting cold here? Where do I go? back to the Hostel? Did I travel for this? Is this what I was dreaming about for years !?
Did I enjoy this? of course. Was it worth the traveling hours and days of planning? Well, I don't know. Was it worth the 1 hour to the Airport, with the 3 - 4 hours of waiting, assuming the plane wasn't delayed. The anxiety of the Parisian Subway.
But I am sure, when I get back to the Hostel, I am not going to share photos about any of this on Facebook. I have to share a photo of Omar standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. To make that new (young Omar) in Jordan jealous of what I am doing.
Our brains are wired to enjoy the beautiful moments fast. 5 minutes on the beautiful beach, or that amazing tunnel in Venice, and you are feeling bored already. Then you start looking for something new, that you will most probably won't get, if you haven't planned it well.
But when we share those on Social Media, which makes matters worse now, we are still spreading the idea that traveling is perfect. But it's far from that. It's usually very limited. Not to mention that you are making the people who cannot afford it feel worse. I have been there most of my life.
This is not about Paris, which might be an extreme case of traveling and high expectations. But this applies to many of the destinations and trips. This is how the traveling experience is these days, for the average person. You need to be so good at planning for it, to make the most out of it though. It's practice. But again, I still hate it. I hate Airports, and waiting at the gates. Delayed Airplanes, missing trains. I hate currency exchange. I hate figuring out subways for the first time. Checking in at Hotels. Finding a place in the plane to put my hand-luggage. I hate it when some people expect me to be the new walking ATM coming to their countries.
Many people hate me for saying this, because it's like hating "luxury" that many others cannot afford. It's amazing that we can reach with planes these days, within hours, where it used to take humans months to reach. Such an achievement for humanity. Planes are incredible, but not traveling.
What you see on celebrities' Instagram profiles when they travel is far from what you experience in real life. Don't set your expectations high. Otherwise, a (Paris Syndrome) will be waiting for you. Yeah, that's a real name. Google it.
I love seeing new things, trying new food, meeting old friends, and seeing historical buildings. And of course taking photos of new sceneries. I will keep sharing my photos. But too bad that I have to travel for this.
My name is Omar Qunsul. I write these articles mainly as a future reference for me. So I dedicate some time to make them look shiny, and share them with the public.
You can find me on twitter @OmarQunsul, and on Linkedin.
And btw, if you like playing chess, please give my personal multiplayer Chess Website ChessDuo a try.