Physical and Emotional State of Travel

Something that Colin Wright, one of my favorite travel bloggers, was discussing in his My Exile Lifestyle ebook about his travel lifestyle really resonated with me. He talks about a time in his life when he was feeling simply content – in the middle of the extremes of human potential. He describes it as this:

I never felt incredible euphoria or extreme pain. Instead of reaching peaks and valleys of human experience, my capacity was limited to a small region right in the center.


Reading those words I realized that this is exactly how I felt when living in Ohio. I had a great life after difficult history of growing up in Russia: security of my family either living in the same house or nearby, school came easily as I hardly even had to study in high school to maintain my 4.0 and looking back on it I breezed through college, comfortable corporate job landed on my lap and overall I was enjoying life….but now I have to ask myself:

Was I truly alive?

I find myself challenged everyday to overcome the effects of jet lag, anxiety, belly aches, heat, natural laziness and sometimes melancholy. However, to me, what I get in return is well worth it because the tougher the struggle, harder the fall, the higher I’ll fly next time and experience that moment, the moments I live for. It’s the moments when you stop to soak in the sights, sounds, smells and faces surrounding you while feeling extremely happy – I call it the traveler’s euphoria.

Emotionally, it’s difficult at times to let go and not worry too much about the world you left behind and naturally miss. What are my friends doing right now? Are they forgetting me? Do they even need me? I have to remind myself that naturally life continues back home without me: people continue on with their busy lives and often don’t have time to wonder how I am doing on my full-time vacation. I have to remind myself that I’m never alone even when I’m separated by miles from my loved ones, besides, I am lucky to have my best friend right beside me on this trip.


While it’s great to not be alone and share experiences with my partner, being together 24/7 can take a toll. Stress from delayed flights, lack of sleep, confusion and silly mistakes challenges you to remain kind to each other and fights can erupt. Thankfully, our awesome compatibility quickly pulls me out of that rut.

On top of that, traveling through the third world countries brings you face-to-face with reality of poverty and difficulties of life we, first world people, can’t even begin to fathom. You can’t help but feel sorrow, helplessness and plain depression when you see how most of the people are dealt the life of struggle. At the same time we realize how lucky we are and I find myself appreciating the privileges I’ve received in my lifetime more and more each day.
Writing on a wall, street scene, southern India:

Physically, if you’re preparing for an extensive trip, you might as well pack up Pepto Bismol and some activated charcoal because you will be paid a visit from Traveler’s Diarrhea. It’s hard to believe I got that sick in Greece out of all places, where food seems to be incredibly fresh. It goes to show you that this side effect of extensive travel will find you anywhere. In addition to Greece, I was sick in Kiev, Ukraine, sadly during one of the more important matches of Euro2012.

Aaron has been sick in India…twice: at this point he is not so keen on the Delhi Belly, which is very common among any westerners traveling in India.

You may think full-time travel is luxurious and romantic, well in reality half the time it’s not so at all. However, if you can get through those lows, in return you can get high: marveling at natural and man-made wonders, receiving nourishment from differences of others, investing time adjusting to new cultures and breaking down stereotypes we have, making new connections, trying dishes that tickle your senses, discovering new traditions and activities, taking photos, slowing down, challenging yourself and finding new interests such as writing for pleasure.

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  • Great being up to keep up with your world tour via this blog. Hope you and Aaron feel better soon. Spending 5 summers of my life in India, I can definitely relate! 🙂

    • Andy! Thanks for following. God, I understand people from India so much better now. While it’s not the easiest country to travel to and explore for a westerner, I think everyone needs to go to India at least once in their lifetime. Stay tuned for our impressions in the upcoming India post. Where is your family from?

  • What an interesting post. You’re right, it does seem like it would be totally amazing, to those of us following along and not actually there. But I didn’t really think about how you’d be seeing such poverty and how could it not affect you? Or the stress of traveling anywhere, let alone such foreign places. And you’re right, thank goodness you have someone there to share it with but 24/7 can make for small things to turn into full blown fights. I’m so glad to hear though that your unflappable spirit is still so strong and kicking as ever. And don’t worry, we do all miss you and need you and can’t wait until the Ogans return home 🙂

    • Thanks for the nice comment, Jenn. It’s nice to know people remember us 🙂 We’ll have to schedule some girl talk when I’m back – I miss that so much.

  • Hey Lena, this is the first time I came across your blog. I really enjoyed the post! It’s definitely true that travel isn’t always glamorous but it sounds like you’ve come away from your adventure with so many stories of those ups and downs!

    • Hi Melissa, thanks for following! Yea – with ups, there are always downs. The last time I got sick, I told Aaron that it’s just the tax I have to pay for having such awesome time the rest of the time 🙂

  • My parents were both from Bombay, although my Dad lived there and in Nairobi, Kenya too. My grandfather had a REALLY small-time import-export business (i.e., buy a bunch of stuff in Africa, load in into a truck, take truck onto a ferry boat across the Indian Ocean, sell the stuff in India, repeat in the other direction, over and over again). Thought that the “Husband and Wife Traveling the World” might find the following article interesting for when you become the “Family Traveling the World” … although, you’re already living most of the advice even without kids! 🙂

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