Shower

Simple pleasures, like a hot shower, are what I really miss when I’m on the road. Photo by Steven Depolo

When you spend your days within the confines of your claustrophobia-inducing office cubicle, it’s only normal to fantasize about escaping it. To travel to some far away land where there are no Excel spreadsheets or Power Point slides to worry about, no reports to write and no meetings to endure.

The irony however, is that travel itself can also do this to you. If you’re a long-term traveler or in a particularly arduous environment, it’s easy to start craving the comforts of home. Things that seemed mundane – or perhaps things you were completely oblivious to – start to look incredibly appealing all of a sudden.

Here’s a list of the things I miss most when I’m on the road:

1. Hot showers. In some countries, a shower is essentially a bucket of water and a pail, so any overhead device that pours water onto me is a blessing in and of itself. But a hot shower with good water pressure isn’t easy to come by, especially when doing the budget travel thing, or in developing countries. I especially missed my showers in Ethiopia, where I’d be ravaged by fleas every night (yes, disgusting, I know), but even in the nicest hotels (relatively speaking) I wasn’t always able to get the shower to function (like, at all).

2. Fast internet. Remember dial-up? In some places it’s still the norm. Worse still, that single dial-up connection is usually shared among the entire internet cafe. And while waiting 10 minutes for a web page to load is a valuable lesson in patience, it’s not really instructive the 8th time around.

3. Sticker prices. One of the beautiful things about traveling in developing countries is that you can negotiate on goods, which means there are some amazing bargains to be had on local handicrafts and other souvenirs. But when you have to bargain for everything (including a simple bottle of water) and the vendor refuses to budge from their clearly absurd price point after 20 minutes of negotiating, it can get more than a little tiresome.

4. Public restrooms. I never would have guessed how rare a commodity these are. Let alone whether it’s clean, or western-style.

5. My own bed. Sleeping on a different lumpy/too-hard/too-soft mattress every night loses its novelty pretty quickly.

6. Clothes. Oh to have more than three outfits. And you know, non-ugly shoes. And being able to wear something clean and fresh everyday.

7. Healthy, familiar and varied foods. Let me say that I absolutely love ethnic food and I’m always eager to try new things. But some countries’ cuisine definitely lacks in the variety department, and no matter how much you like something, eating the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks on end will make you want to retch. Not to mention the fact that some cultures eat nothing but meat whilst others eat nothing but vegetables. I like a little balance, you know?

8. Cooking. On a similar note, I actually missed the ability to cook my own meals when traveling. While I certainly stayed at hostels with kitchens a large chunk of the time, they’re generally only equipped with the basics, and I missed having access to all my spices and gizmos.

What do you think? What things do you miss the most when traveling?

email