Top 5 Things I Never Thought I Could Live Without Before Travel

by Stephanie Walsh · 12 comments

in Travel Thoughts, Travels

The best things in life aren't things

While traveling for the last few months, I have been thinking recently how well I have adapted to the sacrifices that come along with long-term travel. So here is my (very female and light-hearted) perspective on things I thought i could never live without over the last 4 months of travel.


  1. Hot Showers

    There’s nothing better than a lovely hot shower to wake you up in the morning (even if it is 36 degrees outside). And there’s nothing more miserable than an ice cold shower, especially one that just dribbles out from a pipe in the wall. One of the downsides to budget travel is definitely the crappy showers you come across. My spoilt ‘westerner’ self never thought I would be able to have an ice cold shower but I have had to embrace it. It’s either that or be smelly….I think I’ll choose to bear the cold water for a few minutes over weird looks for the whole day!

    Cold showers make me do this...

    Cold showers make me do this...

  2. Make-Up

    I know this one sounds incredibly vain of me but back in Ireland I would wear make-up nearly everyday. It just became a habit since I was in my late teens and I got used to it. If I didn’t wear make-up I felt very exposed. Well hello travel, goodbye make-up. It’s just impossible and was incredibly naive of me to think I could go traveling, wearing make-up every day. It’s not practical in the heat, it’s not efficient and it’s definitely a waste of money. Now that my face has turned from ghost white to slightly less ghost white, I don’t feel I look so anaemic anymore and I am enjoying a make-up free face.

  3. A Selection of Clothes

    God I am just sounding more spoilt with each one! Traveling light is vital for your backs’ happiness and everyday practicality. I currently travel with around two pairs of jeans, two shorts, two skirts, a few tops and about two dresses etc, (This actually sounds like a lot to me now…I’m still ‘over-packing’!), so choosing what to wear is not exactly a multiple-choice scenario. Back at home I liked to wear and dress and heels when going out, like most girls in Ireland, but while traveling I have to strategically mix and match my normal clothes to try and dress it up a bit. At least the fact that I don’t have any heels with me is good enough excuse for not having to wear them for a full night out! A self-inflicted ban from checking out my previous addiction to Asos has also helped.

  4. TEA!

    While I’m not as addicted to tea as the majority of people in Ireland (I only started drinking it in college when my best friends/housemates got me addicted), I do miss a good ole cup of tea! Here is the dramatic fact:


    I have only had ONE cup of tea in four months!


    If you are Irish, you will understand the blatant drama that goes along with that sentence. To be honest though, I have gotten used to it and as I said, thankfully I wasn’t that addicted in the first place. While other Irish emigrants’ families are sending over Barry’s/Lyon’s Tea to their son/daughter by the tonne, I have learned to replace tea with fruit juices…my new actual addiction!

    No tea for the Irish

    No tea for the Irish

  5. The Fact That I Will NEVER Tan

    I have put this on the list even though it’s not really a thing and I am not quite sure if I have come to terms with it yet. While going to the beach surrounded by bronzed goddesses, I emerge like a reflective mirror that blinds everybody with my almost transparency. I get told often enough “YOU’RE SO WHITE”…yes thank you…I had realized you know. However I have learned not to take offence…why would I? It’s simply a fact; I really am very white and that’s not going to change anytime soon, trust me. I have gone through all the 7 stages of grief on this matter:

    Shock and Denial; which had my best friends and me convince ourselves that we could get a tan if we lay out for a few hours WITHOUT sun cream in the midday sun in Greece….
    Pain and Guilt; …which resulted in almost third degree burns and all of us rolling around in our hostel beds in pain, telling ourselves how stupid we were.
    Anger and Bargaining; …and finally emerging from our rooms with the most ridiculous red and white contrasting lines all over our bodies…anger indeed. So I went back to fake-tan…and looked for bargains on the way.
    Depression, reflection, loneliness; …then I started my traveling and I was depressed that I couldn’t tan like everyone else! Boo!
    The upward turn; …however it’s not the end of the world…if I really cared that much about tanning I would be a very pathetic individual.
    Reconstruction and working through; …so I have learned to live with my pale skin and am trying to reconstruct my poor burned skin cells and DNA from sun damage…
    Acceptance and hope; …anyway there is always hope…everyone wanted to be as pale as me when I was in India so I just need to go live there and feel great about myself everyday!

    Me (right) after 10 minutes in the sun in Pushkar, India
    Me (far right) looking attractive after 10 minutes in the sun in Pushkar, India with friends Ciannait and Moy


Of course all of these sacrifices have been small and meaningless. The rewards of travel far out-weight the small sacrifices. As the saying goes:

The best things in life aren’t things

So there are my top 5 things I never thought I would be able to live without before traveling. Have you experienced any similar situations? What have you found the most difficult to live without while traveling? Leave your comments in the box below!

(Images: ImageQuotes)

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Annette| Bucket List Journey May 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Going without a hot shower would be the toughest for me!


2 Steph May 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Tell me about it! You really appreciate it then when you stay in a place with hot water!
Thanks for the comment Annette


3 Ciara Smith May 13, 2012 at 1:37 am

Would love if you did a top 5 things you couldn’t live without as a follow up! As fellow fair skinned colleen, suncream comes #1 on my list! Followed closely by my Kindle and camera. Love reading about your adventures, safe travels!


4 Steph May 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Thanks Ciara, that’s a great idea! Andres has a Kindle, it’s amazing I agree! I think my camera would out-do the suncream for the number one spot for me though! Maybe thats why I’ve been burnt so many times in my life! Priorities eh? ha


5 Moy May 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Wahoo, delighted to see an auld Pushkar pictuir in the blog! I can identify with this list, all small sacrifices for the great experiences I’m sure you’ll agree! Keep living the dream xxx


6 Steph May 14, 2012 at 12:17 am

Thanks Moy! All worth it indeed! 🙂
By the way all my pictures from India were on a hard drive that suddenly stopped working like the day before I left for Colombia. I didn’t have enough time to get it fixed so I’m PRAYING I can recover them whenever I get back to Ireland. Thankfully I had some pictures from Pushkar on my laptop, including the legendary Baba Power! 🙂


7 Stacey May 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Haha I love this. Traveling really does make you reevaluate the things you thought were important. I’m still hopeless at packing, but with every unnecessary thing I throw out I feel a small spark of pride 🙂 Cold showers are definitely the worst though! If the weather is crazy hot then I can do lukewarm but that’s about it!

I too have baked my pale skin until I’ve turned into a lobster, many times in fact, and I’m kicking myself now since I have freckles everywhere and I feel so guilty. Don’t feel too bad though..we all do it!


8 Steph May 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Thanks Stacey, I’m still terrible at packing too…no matter how many times I do it! I still have too much stuff with me I think!
Freckles are the new tan…and if we get enough of them everywhere, they begin to merge together and give the illusion of a tan! haha


9 She Explores August 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm

As I plan my departure in January, I have randomly found myself wondering how it will be without little luxuries for several months. I’m with you – an abundance of clothes choices and fun shoes is one thing I think I will miss. Although, I suppose it makes life a lot easier and getting ready a lot quicker :). I hadn’t thought much about the makeup thing – just assuming I would wear it as I do at home, but you’re right – even on shorter vacations I tend to wear it much, much less. And then there’s nail polish. I hate non-painted toenails…haha. I guess I’ll get used to it! I’m assuming I will miss my shower and my bed most of all…(besides family and friends, of course!)
She Explores recently posted..Every Little BitMy Profile


10 Steph August 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Haha tell me about it! Here’s a nice tip I learned though…in South America (if you ever head in that direction) you can get your nails done to perfection for next to nothing AND it lasts weeks! hehe Probably the same in a lot of other places too!
I still miss clothes sometimes (I’m sorry but I will always love clothes, even if I have embraced simpler living!) but you get used to it really quickly. Actually you become a lot more comfortable in your (natural) skin so thats always a plus! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!


11 Randi Simon-Serey September 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

LOL, love it! Especially the pictures!

I have hairy eyebrows, so losing my tweezers induced PANIC because my very identity is in my shaped eyebrows. As their dark chaos sprouted more thickly each day, so did my self-esteem shrivel in inverse proportion. Nobody else noticed, but every time I touched my face and felt the bristling spikes over my squinting wild eyes, I felt a pang of confusion. I eventually bought some new tweezers, but not without having learned a lesson about my own neurosis.

The other four things sacrificed while traveling:
-the sense of security and safety was the greatest
-my hound dog’s hot feet in my ribs at night
-the refrigerator full of convenient expected snacks
-NCIS on demand (favorite tv show)

Thanks for asking … it was a fun question to ponder!
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12 Stephanie Walsh September 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Hahahaha love it! I would so follow the adventures of your daily growing hairy eyebrows!
NCIS…well we all have addictions! 😛
Thanks for commenting and making me laugh Randi! 🙂