7 Signs You’ve Succumbed: A Self-Portrait of Travel-Induced Insanity

 Joseph at Gaztelugatxe, an islet of the coast of Biscay in Basque country!

Joseph at Gaztelugatxe, an islet of the coast of Biscay in Basque country!

1. Instant coffee is sort of good.

But five gram serving suggestions? Please. What am I, a twelve-year-old? It takes at least a fourth cup to hit optimal (caffeine) buzz. You can almost learn to like the strange film that forms on the surface, slightly sticky and absurdly strong. Almost.-

2. You’re getting to know the folks haunting the TripAdvisor forum page.

Actually, you’re haunting this rabbit hole of numbskull nomads, anonymous animosity, and patronizing pilgrims. Even so, cookiemamaWinchester doesn’t seem to have posted anything on paying the ALSA bus company with an international credit card within the past 11 years. It’s chill, though, because foxy1454 says you can just do it with PayPal.

3. Your consideration for others has declined precipitously.

Tiptoeing to your bunk at 1am? Zipping your backpack at snail speed? That was the old you. Sorry, sleepers, I’m crashing through this hostel dorm whether you like it or not. Good thing you’ll never see these people again (until a posse from your hostel in Lagos rolls through your Lisbon crash pad, throwing you a few vitriolic glares and whispering among themselves).

4. Why limit yourself to “free breakfast” when it could be so much more?

French bread, ham, and cheese: free lunch. Apples: free midafternoon snack. Hot coffee: in your thermos and it’s a free 3pm boost of caffeine. Look at that—not even 9am and you’ve already fit half of the continental breakfast spread in your daypack! Some call it greedy, but you prefer “thrifty.”

5. €7 to wash only?

Ludicrous. That one hostel in the Algarve (five weeks ago) had laundry for €4—wash and dry. You’ve been wearing your last clean shirt for the past six days, but that’s okay; you’ve got enough deodorant to last at least another month. Best to slather it onto your underarms and wait for the next hostel. Or the one after that.

6. You catch yourself nearly darting through museums.

“Seventeenth-century painting by” blah blah “delicately portrays the fine balance” blah blah “found materials on African nutmeg panel” yadda yadda yadda “forges a new connection between viewer and artwork.” All of a sudden, you’re back outside, blinking in the bright sunlight. “How did you like the Vitruvian Man?” a fellow hosteller asks. Your blank stare reveals the answer: “What?”

7. Instead of constantly converting between the euro and the dollar, you’ve learned that €1.5 = one cup of coffee.

Since €1.55 equals one metro ride, a there-and-back trip is like not drinking two whole cups of coffee. As a result, you find yourself walking obscene distances between famous monuments, which is invigorating but time-consuming. In fact, you spend so much time walking around that you forget to drink your two cups of coffee at all.

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Joseph Winters

Joseph immersed himself in the culture of Northern Italy, a major departure from his small town Washington State roots. Clad in thrift store shorts, a pair of sneakers, and a T-shirt from the clearance section at REI, Joseph mispronounced his way through Versace, Gucci, and Gianfranco Lotti stores. “Dolce and Bananas?” he sputtered in Milan. “Giorgio Armonkey?” he stammered in Florence. By the time he got to Venice, he decided to get onto a gondola and keep his mouth shut about fashion. Interestingly, though, he had no problem saying “gelato,” “gnocchi,” or “biscotti” when placing his order in an Italian “ristorante.” Apart from his linguistic misadventures, Joseph toiled through the extensive Let’s Go “requirements” like seeing Michelangelo’s David or da Vinci’s The Last Supper, making it through the month mostly in one piece, despite only managing to memorize 114 of the 650 kinds of pasta he encountered.