Okay, these are mostly for those traveling to the Southern hemisphere – but nevertheless, here are 10 weird, gross, funny and wonderful things that will inevitably happen to you as a long-term female traveler:
1. You’ll give up on shaving your legs.
In the process of “letting go” your legs will probably take the first hit. People will say you’re a hippie, but in reality, you’re just lazy. Not to mention, with all the vitamin D you’re getting from the glare bear – the sun (“Office reference) – your hair and nails are going to grow like weeds. You’d have to shave every 12 hours just to keep up. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
2. You’ll brush your hair less and less often.
Brushing hair is hard. And it’s a frivolous task, really. Okay, maybe not, but it’s painful and somehow my hair always ends up in one big frizzy knot by the end of the day. When traveling, hair does nothing but hold you back. It’s like this fuzzy heated blanket sitting on top of your head that you want to get rid of, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. You’ll find yourself wishing you had listened to all of those people who jokingly told you to get dreads. Ultimately, you’ll just throw your hair up in a bun and try to forget it’s there. Let rats nests be rats nests.. that’s what I always say! What a stupid catch-phrase to have.
3. You’ll skip showers that you should really be taking.
I know by now you’re probably all thinking, “she’s disgusting”. But trust me, some days I’m so tired from the intense heat that even a cold shower doesn’t appeal to me. I just stand up until my sweat dries up and think to myself, “that’s good enough, right? Better get my PJ’s on!”. Also, the most brutal murders happen in showers. Science.
4. You’ll ditch the makeup.
The you at the start of your trip will think bringing makeup is important because “sometimes you wanna look cute”, but by week 3 – forget about it. Why would I put on makeup when I’m just going to sweat it off anyway? I can already hear you die-hard makeup fans “That’s why I have waterproof makeup – duh!”. Just wait until you’re sweating it out in Cambodia. Are you really going to want a layer of paste coating your already sweaty skin? Me no think so.
5. You’ll judge other travelers based on their tans.
“Whoah, look at that bronze hobo-looking guy! How long do you think he’s been traveling?” or “She’s pastey. She’s probably a 1 weeker… 2 weeks tops. She’s just here to get her selfies and get out… the nerve.” I always find myself being especially critical at the beach. When someone claims to be a “backpacker” and then they take off their shirt and their stomach is just as tan as their arms I think to myself, “You sit on a throne of lies”. True backpackers have farmer’s tans, Sharon! Unless you’re walking around naked with your backpack on, it seems to me you probably just spend your days laying on a beach with pina coladas.
6. You’ll get annoyed by other female travelers.
Other female travelers are probably my biggest bug-a-boo. Don’t get me wrong, some female travelers are champs, but more frequently you’ll encounter whiny little girls who “expected better”. Just the other day I was walking from our bungalow to the bathrooms and there was a girl coming out of a shower stall with her boyfriend complaining that there “isn’t any hot water”. First of all, it’s an outdoor bathroom, so I don’t know what you expected to find.. secondly, it’s 100 flippin’ degrees outside and you want to have a HOT shower? Are you on crack? You’re in Cambodia – a third world country – and you expect to take long, luxurious, hot showers. You aren’t cut out for this life, kid.
7. You’ll lower your standards.
“There’s rats in the kitchen”, my husband tells me as we sit down to order from a restaurant. Me: *Shrugs* “Do you know what you want to order?”. This takes a little longer, but eventually things will just completely stop grossing you out. I’m not sure whether this is good or bad. You start going barefoot in the showers, you eat food that’s been sitting out in the sun all day, you ignore the weird smell of your hotel bed sheets. You would literally exhaust yourself if you complained about everything that didn’t meet Western standards. You started out this trip telling yourself you’d avoid ice or anything that came into contact with ice, and now look at you – drinking local-made fruit slushies like a fearless champion.
8. You’ll lose weight.
Good news AND bad news ladies. You will most definitely lose weight while backpacking – unless you’re a fake backpacker like Sharon. You’re constantly burning calories in the oppressive heat and you’re mostly eating rice and vegetables. You will certainly drop some poundage. You’re probably thinking, what’s the bad news? Well, for one thing, you can only get so skinny before it starts to get creepy and it’s really hard to put weight back on when you’re diet is comprised of noodle soup and fried rice. We don’t have access to Baconators and McFlurrys here. Secondly, you really need energy to hike around in hot weather – and you start lacking in energy big-time when your calorie intake is so low and you have zero fat on your body. So you look great in a bikini, but you also have the potential to drop like a fainting goat at a moments notice.
9. You’ll overcome your fear of creepy crawlies.
Roaches? Millipedes? Tarantula-sized spiders? I’m un-phased. Eternal summer might be a high-schoolers dream, but if you look at the logistics you’ll start welcoming winter with open arms. Where there’s no winter, there’s bugs- GIANT bugs that NEVER die. Lizards and snakes, too. You can’t escape them. They’re in restaurants, shops and your hotel room. But over time, you learn to live peaceably side by side. As long as they don’t get into bed with me, I don’t care. Yesterday a lizard crawled up my leg and hung out with me while I waited for my take-out at a local restaurant. I am one with nature.
10. You’ll start loving yourself and the way you look.
Sure you’ve lost some weight and got yourself a nice, fresh tan, but more importantly than that you actually have time now to spend getting to know your beautiful, cool self. And once you start getting to know the you on the inside, you slowly but surely stop obsessing about your outward appearance. Most days you don’t think to look in a mirror and even if you did, you’d take one look at your sweaty, non-made-up face and think “look at that hot chick” because you’re no longer wrapped up in that Western world of materialism. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a magazine in some places – especially with a half-naked “fitness model” on the cover. I’m pretty sure you’d have to go through some back alley operations for that. Also, keep in mind, you may have been the ugliest person in your high school, but here, you’re a foreigner, and that automatically makes you attractive. (An American.. ooo how exotic!).