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The Realities of Travel: Our Disastrous First Night in Namibia

Toyota Hilux 4x4 with roof-top tent on campsite near Windhoek in Namibia

I wasn’t going to write this blog post. I felt it was just a little too personal to share. However, the words just seemed to tumble out and I like being completely honest with my readers.

After over 24 hours of travel in order to reach Namibia, I honestly expected to sleep like a baby on my first night. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. After setting up our roof-top tent and getting dressed for bed, I snuggled down into my sleeping bag, warm air filtering through the tent. I went to sleep quickly enough but no sooner had I gone to sleep, I was awake again, a sick feeling in my stomach. Was it the steak? I wondered. I felt dizzy and like I was going to throw-up. Beside me, my partner shifted uncomfortably too. He started complaining about the mosquito net we had put up, insisting that it made the tent feel too small. I mumbled in agreement, feeling as though the darkness of the tent was engulfing me. I wanted to go to the bathroom to see if I really needed to be sick but the long walk kept me where I was. Eventually I gave into the sickness and clambered ungracefully down the ladders to the tent.

As soon as I was out in the open, I felt slightly better and allowed the fresh air to fill my lungs. I didn’t need to be sick but the terrible first night wasn’t over yet. My partner started climbing down out of the tent, telling me he felt too claustrophobic in the tent and that he’d rather sleep in the car instead. I came too to keep him company and that’s when we had a bit of a melt-down. The trip suddenly felt daunting. We were sleeping in a very small tent on the top of the car – no bed, no close bathroom, just us and the car. I suddenly longed to cuddle up in a lodge-bed or something and to have an en-suite attached. At that moment, sleep-deprived and exhausted from flying, it all felt too much.

On that night, whilst sat in our car, we decided that it had been a terrible idea to do this trip. We both felt like we were going to throw up and both our worlds were spinning, not to mention the stress we felt inside.

You see, I had just waved goodbye to working on a business – for 2 weeks anyway. Life at home is far from perfect with stress launching itself at me from every direction. Running a company is hard and balancing my life is even harder. Before I went away, I was tired every day and experiencing daily headaches. The 24 hours of travelling and issues with picking up the car had basically ‘finished me off’. The same could be said of my partner. The thought that we were going to be living on the road for 2 weeks, traveling for hours each day to a new campsite, whilst we felt this exhausted, was too much.

We talked for hours before finally succumbing to sleep. The more we talked, the less ill we began to feel as somehow in our ill and confused states, we managed to iron out a plan for when we got back home as both of us knew the reason we really felt ill was due to being constantly stressed back home.

Ella with Toyota Hilux 4x4 with roof-top tent on campsite near Windhoek in Namibia

I can tell you now that our Namibia road-trip turned out to be arguably the best trip of my life and I most certainly do not regret doing it. However, on that first night, I was almost ready to call it quits – almost. Whilst travel is a truly wonderful and liberating thing, it can also be exhausting. 3 flights in 1 day followed by picking up your rental car, buying food and then locating your accommodation is a lot to do. Not to mention that sleeping on a 10 hour-long night-flight is less than comfortable. It’s natural for anyone to feel ill and tired on your first night.

So many people only tell you about the amazing benefits of travel even though there will always be ups and downs along the way. I want to tell you about every part of my experience – the good and the bad. I find that is much more valuable. As a result, you will hopefully not feel alone when you do encounter hiccups on your holiday and you certainly won’t have unexpected expectations. Travel days are not fun. Feeling ill whilst on holiday is even worse as I just wanted to sleep well and wake up at 5am the next day to get loads done. Hah, it doesn’t quite work like that – not every time anyway.

You’ll be pleased to know that our adventure went up-hill from here, this night being the real low-point of the trip. A reminder that although we sometimes have our bad days and want to give up, don’t because we can always make it through and as a result have both an incredible experience and grow as a person.

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