Nothing quite brings you back down to reality like getting disgustingly ill.
Turning the clock back 3 weeks and I was in the familiar environment of the endless corridors of an airport. Lugging my chunky backpack, my back was tired and my calves gasping for a break.
Where were the travelators? Apparently the architect decided people needed a little more exercise and there were no whirring people transporters to be seen 🤨
Travel had been a part of my life for years. It gave me a hobby to spend my time on and it was wonderful to experience different cultures, meet new people, and force myself into the world.
But one of the worst things about travel is also the risk you put yourself through. Every train, taxi, or plane journey is a risk.
Ever since the pandemic started I'd become hyper aware how ignorant people were when it came to illness. People have no problem coughing, sneezing, or spitting around you—and it's quite frankly terrifying.
So when I got called up to board the plane and the person in front of me started wheezing, I knew this had the potential to go awry. I knew the chance of me sitting next to them was too damn high.
And what do you know—they did. And for a few weeks I thought I'd been lucky.
Getting Back Home
As much as I enjoy travel, I'm also lucky enough to also have a home to cozy up in when I'm not feeling like being part of the world.
So after an unsuccessful trip, I decided to cut my losses and head home. And I'm glad I did.
A day after letting myself back into my front door, my luck ran out. I started feeling tired and had a very familiar sounding cough (thanks fellow traveler 😒).
Like everyone else these days, I was terrified I had another spell of COVID. It seemed like the most obvious thing based on my symptoms. And so the days of putting sticks up my nose started.
Turned out negative which was a relief for sure. But if not COVID—what was it? At this point I was isolating myself at home, only sitting up in bed to stay hydrated and cough.
After my intense Googling I found the answer. A horrible flu bug had infiltrated me and was messing with my body. I knew this one was going to take a while to recover from which was extremely frustrating.
Was Travel Worth It?
I wondered how I could put myself in this position again. It wasn't the first time in the last 6 months I'd gotten ill from travel and I felt like an idiot for doing it again.
As the world started opening up a year earlier I was convinced people would be more careful and more considerate. I thought my vaccinations and healthy lifestyle would protect me against all odds.
For some reason I thought it would be more safe.
As much as I enjoyed travel, I had to stop putting myself in these dangerous positions. I had to stop traveling for leisure.
Focusing on Recovery
Unfortuately the flu wasn't the only think lurking to take me out.
Around a week later my body started to work again. I was able to get out of bed and started going for short strolls.
And then it hit me—stomach cramps and vomiting. Of course I'd gotten food poisioning from the trip.
Not only was I not able to eat solid food but I was feeling weaker and weaker by the day. As much as I tried to stomach liquid food shakes it just wasn't staying down. I didn't know how long it'd take me to be able to digest again.
Getting food poisioning was always a risk of travel. People get ill on holiday all the time, what with different bacteria you haven't dealt with before entering your gut biome and the risk of less than ideal hygiene practices 😑
It was just terrible luck that this was released as soon as I started recovering from the flu.
Sitting there trying to recover gave me time to reflect on the past few years of travel. Had I actually enjoyed it, or had it merely been a distraction? Something to simply do because I could?
I realized the travel wasn't the part I enjoyed about my life. What I enjoyed was spending time with those I love, eating delicious home-cooked food, and having a sleep environment that works for me.
Was living out of a backpack in a hotel really going to work anymore? Maybe I'd simply grown out of it and wanted more control over my life.
A Different Future
As I sit in the sun at home listening to the birds chirping, I'm finally on my way to recovery. It sure has been a marathon rather than a sprint and I'm healing slowly but surely.
Despite how horrible this illness has been it's given me a chance to reflect a little on my life. It made me realize that I can no longer keep risking my life multiple times a month and that I'm better off taking things a little slower.
So for now I'm going to be sitting at home and enjoying my favourite things rather than chasing that next place.
No more lugging backpacks around for a while.