I know what you are thinking……screw you Bryant! You get to travel the world and see amazing places.
“Your Instagram pics look amazing! You must be having the time of your life”
While this is true, the pictures only show you one side of traveling (the picture worthy angle). I mean who wants to see pictures of 2 AM flight terminals, dirty buses, waiting in 110 degree heat for a train delayed an hour, sloppy tears from a late night conversation with a loved one, or the the inevitable stomach flu that is bound to hit anyone.
Throughout this journey, I am trying to be 100% honest in my blog so friends and family can get a good glimpse of the good and bad of this journey. And there have been plenty of both! We are just past 100 days of me being abroad and I want you to enjoy the sincere reflection I have below.
My professional and personal development have grown immensely as I have learned to interact with people of different cultures, languages, and backgrounds. I have been placed into uncomfortable situations and either held my own or learned to be flexible to accommodate the changed environment. I have proudly gotten into lovely political discussions to defend the state of American politics (ugh Trump) or explain to the non-Americans that not everyone thinks like that man. I have done demo’s or webinars with clients at 1am local time while letting them know how working abroad is. Time management & motivation are skills that I have had to grow immensely in order to be efficient with my time abroad.
- You either can’t sleep consistently or are thrown off by timezone changes.
- When you stay up for a late call, that can throw your whole routine off (if you ever got into a routine).
- Many trips may require you to not sleep (if you have a 2am flight) or to be up early to get to the airport on time.
- And while side trips are fun, they require extra planning (and usually uncomfortable travel times) to avoid messing up your work schedule and/or planned meetings.
- Eating healthy can be a chore or completely non-existent (thank you Morocco).
- Staying physically fit requires extra planning to find a good local gym, or you may be lucky enough to live near a beautiful outdoor park (thank you Valencia!) that allows for runs and outdoor workouts.
On top of the physical discomforts, personal relationships are tested like never before. I have a newfound respect for anyone that has maintained any type of long distance relationship(s) as it has been the most stressful part of this journey. Open communication, honesty, trustworthiness, and effort all play a big part in maintaining whatever connection you had with someone. You get to learn a lot about yourself and your significant other while traveling (not always good things), and having open communication and patience are key. And while I am traveling with a great cohort of amazing individuals, sometimes it is not the same as having someone you love or family/friends that really know you, your qualms, stress indicators, and overall mental well being.
I have been very blessed to have a large number of family members to talk to on a weekly basis to either vent or express my current state of emotions. I don’t take that for granted ever. But like I said, the hardest challenge has been maintaining these personal relationships. If you would have asked me that before I left, I probably would not have agreed with that statement. It has been the number one hardest part about this trip.
It undoubtably has taken a toll on me both physically and emotionally. I am down 17 pounds since I have been traveling, though that can also probably be attributed to uneven eating habits & a slightly more active lifestyle (more walking to offices). Some days I am so stressed that I skip meals altogether. I go for runs to clear my mind or give a call to someone back home who may be awake. I question personal decisions I have made that affect loved ones back home and second guess myself constantly. And while I know I make people jealous with my trips, sometimes I wish I can physically be present at that missed wedding or a company outing.
Not being around familiarity is hard and can be very taxing as you take it for granted when it is no longer there. I miss the little things of life back in DC: routines, local food spots, running into friends in Trader Joes, lazy Netflix nights, the metro commute (just kidding!), my bed, my own laundry machine that works, my Nutri Bullet, happy hours with co-workers, and TV and sporting events at normal hours.
Luckily, I am heading home the first week in October to go to a wedding, check-in with my colleagues, and hopefully get face time in with loved ones. I am looking forward to this immensely and just a chance to get back in a familiar routine for a week.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a bitch fest at all! I just wanted to show you the good and the bad of traveling longterm abroad.
I am very blessed to have the opportunity to travel and see many beautiful countries and cities. To do this while working is a very special & unique experience and one that I will cherish the rest of my life. That being said, it is not always smooth sailing and I want folks back at home to realize this and look beyond a pretty landscape photo on Instagram. Traveling long term is not always an easy journey but definitely made easier when you have a strong community around you both at home and abroad. You will be personally tested like never before and hopefully will come out a much stronger person in the end!
Now for the latest adventure and pictures!
For labor day weekend I decided to take a solo trip to Vienna, Austria and Salzburg (to get some Bryant time in and clear the head). I knew I wanted to get away since I had a 3-day weekend and wanted to take advantage of the extra day. Vienna ended up being an easy, direct (1.5 hrs) and decently cheap ($<190 roundtrip) flight. I was able to use hotel points for my stay in the city. Unlike in Marrakech where I discouraged smiling, I am 100% confident my smile encouraged the Hilton folks to upgrade me to the executive lounge floor. This gave me access to free breakfast, snacks, and wait for it…..an open bar all day. This was amazing, though not gunna lie, open bars are no fun unless you have someone to share it with (womp womp).
I explored Vienna for a day then hopped on a train to Salzburg for what I expected to be one of my favorite European cities. Salzburg did not disappoint! (Now a small back story, the Burnheimer family grew up watching and singing Sound of Music. The Von Trapp family was barely a match to our own rendition of “So long, Farewell”. I don’t have video, but do note that we had the whole cuckoo scene down perfectly). I ended up staying at a hostel that showed the movie every night at 8pm, so that was an added bonus.
The 2nd day I was able to hike Untersberg mountain and I will let the pictures speak for themselves but it was some of the most amazing views and hikes I have ever seen. The alps are gorgeous and stretch on for miles! I hopped on the cable car to the top of the mountain but then hiked about 2 hours west up and down the different peaks. At some point I ventured into Germany as my phone carrier switched and T-mobile sent me a “Welcome to Germany” text (oops). I actually had to turn around as clouds were coming in and I was going to miss the last cable car down the mountain. I was not prepared to be on the mountain in bad weather and that would have been unfortunate (oh the joys of traveling solo!).
I met some great locals who explained to me the history of the mountains and how I was here at the perfect time as they usually get a lot of rain in June/July. I was also able to witness a helicopter rescue for a local German woman who apparently could not finish the hike. I wasn’t sure what was happening but there was a good amount of german yelling. In classic tourist behavior, I recorded the helicopter coming through the mountain pass, because I am not going to lie it was really cool to witness!
While my stay in Salzburg was short and sweet, I highly recommend going! Especially if you like small, picturesque mountain towns. Enjoy the pics and remember:
Follow every rainbow, ‘Till you find your dream.