On the Gram, everyone takes pride in stunting and capturing the greatest moments for likes and followers. But nobody ever really mentions the realities or when things simply do not go to plan.
My most recent trip to Ghana taught me a lot. It had been two years since visiting the continent and despite visiting Africa on several occasions. I felt that my patience was being in tested in various ways.
1. Lack of communication with authorities.
I applied for my visa about 5 weeks before travelling. As I’m a teacher, taking a day off for work isn’t really an option when it comes to getting a visa. So I opted to post my items, which was quick and easy. I then received an email saying some documents were missing.
I resorted to calling them and finding out what had happened. To then be put on hold for 30 minutes, then someone picks up and hangs up, had to call back again and wait for 40 minutes to then be told my documents are all there and nothing is missing. They confirmed I should expect my passport by the following week. Had communication be easier, I would not have spent so much time on the phone! The horror stories on the Ghana High Commission FB page didn’t help either!
That feeling when you’re finally reunited with your passport!
2. Sharing a dorm
As I’m in my early thirties. I often find that I’m definitely one of the older people in a dorm room. Dorm rooms are usually filled with people who have just left university or those taking a gap year.
How does that make me feel? Old? Lol…on some occasions. It makes me realise that some people are inconsiderate in dorm rooms, slamming the door at night, talking as they come in late. But what is the worse thing? Waking up in the middle of the night.
Whilst in Peru, (just before my Macchu Picchu trip was due to start at 6am) I woke up at 4am to the sounds of liquid pouring on the floor. To then hear someone on a bunk shout ” OMG, someone just vomited!”. Lights on, cleaner was called from downstairs, no more sleep for me. Not to mention, I had accidentally booked a party hostel, so the noise infiltrated through the room and that was my sleep done.
3. Making Friends
I’ve stayed in hostels where nobody bothers to talk to each other. Nobody makes an effort to even say hello. This is a far cry from travelling ten years ago, before social media was as common and people were more likely to interact.
Nowadays, some people will make it quite clear, they are NOT trying to even have a little conversation or befriend anyone. It can be quite challenging sometimes. What has this taught me? Simple. I’ve had to put myself out there that extra mile.
I’ve found myself randomly asking people in the common room of a hostel or at the breakfast table “What are you up to today?” in the hopes that they might want some company.
Back in the day, the old me would have said, “Errggh, why you begging friends for?”. But you’ll be surprised at what a little hello can do. It could be a lovely day of hanging out or a lifetime of friendship. I had a couple of these moments last year in Vietnam. I saw a girl waiting at a taxi stand in Chiang Mai, asked what she was up to. She wanted to visit the temple and I wanted to go to the lake. We ended up hanging out that day and cut the cost of both our trips by sharing a taxi. It just so happened we had a flight the next day to different places and ended up heading to the airport together too.
Also, whilst in Ghana, I had such an amazing experience and stayed in an 8 bed dorm, but the girls were all so lovely. We hung out most of my trip while I was there.
4. The costs of Ubering alone!
So for the first time I set up an uber account. I was surprised that in Ghana the tourism infrastructure was not as developed as some other countries I had been to. In the sense of organising day trips, I thought it would be like Thailand where you’d find a stand somewhere offering excursions. Well, the answer was no.I had to do it alone! This meant catching a coach or an uber. I opted for uber to take me to Dodowa, which is over an hour away from Accra. It said on the app it would cost 60 cedis (£10) When the taxi arrived, he doubled the price and said it was because getting back would be difficult for him as Uber does not exist! That was my day trip plans put to a halt. Had I planned the trip with other people, it would have been a lot easier and splitting the cost always helps!
5. Losing a suitcase
Now, this can happen by yourself or with other people. Or to just about anyone. I had been travelling with TAP Portugal, who do not have the best reputation. I bagged a cheap flight for just £380 to Ghana at Christmas which would fly via Lisbon. I thought life couldn’t get better than that. Only to then be sat on my return flight, the plane doors close, we then hear the announcement of “We are stopping in Morocco for some fuel”. Of course you are! This now meant that I’d be late for my connecting flight from Lisbon to London which was due to leave at 8.30am. We arrived at 9.30am to then be told that the next flight us at 4pm!
Despite the waiting around in the lounge which helped kill time and get some extra zzz. I found myself at Heathrow at 7pm, a whole 8 hours later than planned. But no suitcase was delivered!
I went to baggage enquiries to then be told that my suitcase was still in Lisbon. My suitcase wasn’t delivered until two days later!
These issues teach you a whole heap of patience but it’s hard not to get frustrated at times. Travel is not what you see on social media. It’s just snippets of the best parts. Travel gets real….and it will really introduce you to your real self!