How Things Can Happen and Change While Traveling

My mind began to wander as I sat in the chair at the dentist this morning in preparation for the periodic cleaning of my teeth — and the first thought which came to my mind was When did the song The Long Run by the Eagles become dentist music?!? before thinking about the sentiment in the song Don Henley Must Die by Mojo Nixon…

How Things Can Happen and Change While Traveling

…and then my mind turned to more serious — but not that much more serious, to be grammatically incorrect — things. The main one is how things can happen and change while traveling.

They could be small, insignificantly middling things. For example, the streetlight near my home must have blown out during my recent trip — which was to the Dominican Republic and Chile and included Easter Island — leaving the street dark in the evening when I go for a nightly walk. I intend to launch a series of articles documenting that trip; but I do have to remember to contact the local government to get that streetlight repaired.

“Open…” Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr…

I then thought about past times when I traveled. I have had a few relationships which seemed to be fine prior to my traveling somewhere — only to find that things changed while I was gone. For example, in this article pertaining to how to break up with someone at the airport, I wrote:

Travel can usually result in distance; and distance can play a role in exacerbating a relationship due to limitations. For example, I was dating someone who decided to end the relationship via telephone while I was on a business trip in Hammond, Indiana — hardly a sought-after resort destination by any stretch of the imagination.

“Okay,” I responded.

“That’s it? Just okay?” she asked, bewildered.

I guess she was expecting me to be devastated from the news. “Yep. I wish you all the best.” I meant that, too. I had no hard feelings towards her.

I then thought of a relationship I had with someone very special to me. I returned from a trip just prior to a milestone anniversary, ready to resume that relationship — only to wind up unexpectedly mutually agreeing to suddenly end the relationship after a conversation of a few hours. That hurt a lot, as it was really difficult for me — especially as I had not heard from her since that conversation. I really hope that she is doing well these days…

“Rinse.” Swish, swish.

…but then again — after spending a month in Côte d’Ivoire during my first time in Africa — I returned home to find that the person whom I had been dating was waiting for me to return and felt stronger about us. I have had several relationships like that, too.

Sometimes family members or friends experienced significant milestones while I was gone. Sometimes major events happen somewhere else in the world about which I had not heard. I remember reading an article in a newspaper in New York about how synagogues were bombed in Paris just days after I left there.

In fact, catching up on the news — especially with what happened locally while I was traveling — can potentially be the most jolting in both a positive and negative way. This is especially true when the news team of the local television station recapitulates about a story which first occurred while traveling: Wow — that happened?!? This is the first time I heard about it. A new law was passed. A significant crime occurred in the unlikeliest of places. Even with the advent of the Internet, I do not take time out while I am traveling to find out what is going on in the local area where I am based.

Of course, there are certain things which no one wants to happen while traveling — such as forgetting to leave the oven on prior to leaving on a long trip. I can assure you that that has never happened to me — nor have I ever had my home burn down or flooded out, thankfully — but if you find yourself constantly worrying about leaving things on and forgetting things, you can always use your portable electronic device to take photographs of such things as turning off the water supply, locking your doors, closing your windows and garage doors, and setting timers prior to leaving your home, as suggested in this article written by Nicole Dieker for Lifehacker.

“Okay. Let’s schedule your next appointment. Would you like a travel-sized bottle of antiseptic mouthwash and a compact pack of dental floss?”


I have extolled the virtues of travel in past articles here at The Gate — such as with this article pertaining to celebrating your birthday during the opposite season

Travel is magical, in my opinion. It allows you to do things which you otherwise cannot do. You can celebrate your birthday during the opposite season. I know one person who did that and watched colorful leaves fall from the trees instead of seeing flowers bloom and trees budding.

You can also go back in time or propel into the future — such as when crossing time zones or the International Date Line. You can extend a day beyond 24 hours, as I have had some travel days last greater than 36 hours…

…and — of course — you can visit locations around the world about which many people only read or see via television or a film. You can meet different types of people; sample authentic versions of food; and partake in experiences in which you otherwise cannot participate where you are based.

…but travel can also be sobering — especially when returning from a long trip. Every time I return home, I realize how life went on without me and how things can change. At the risk of being morbid, it is almost like a preparation for death, when the world continues to turn and life goes on without you or anyone else.

As I had mentioned in this article, travel will not fix you…but it can improve you

…but life and the world do not stop while you travel — and how things can happen and change while traveling may possibly affect you once you return home; and they can potentially be significant enough to blindside you.

In my opinion, that is one of the negative or positive — depending on what actually happened — aspects of travel.

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “How Things Can Happen and Change While Traveling”

  1. Amy says:

    that is a wonderful photo, Brian.

  2. Carl Pietrantonio says:

    Dude!! In all my years of reading travel and miles blogging, NOBODY has ever referenced Mojo Nixon! You are a hero!

  3. colleen says:

    Brian, I really enjoyed this piece. And your use of the word “exacerbate” really piqued my curiosity (and not by interchanging exacerbate and exasperate as many do). It was its context – your reference to “exacerbating a relationship” – that puzzled me.

    I believe this word is always used in the context of “bad-to-worse”. A “relationship” isn’t something innately negative. Therefore “exacerbate” would be used in a reference to “relationship issues”, “relationship tensions” or the like. Not the relationship itself.

    Here’s one I recently saw:

    “On Mont Blanc, overtourism is exacerbating the dangers posed by climate change and inexperienced climbers.”

    There are further examples of use in a sentence here:

    And I thank you for letting me wander off-topic to research and report. I know you share curiosity on this subject (words).


    1. Brian Cohen says:

      As always, you have good points, colleen — and I enjoy when you wander off-topic to research and report.

      Upon reflection, perhaps the word exacerbate should not have been used to describe the particular relationship in question — if only because I had no idea that any problems existed in the relationship prior to traveling to Hammond, Indiana; so the context of “bad-to-worse” does not apply here.

      I learn something new every day, colleen — and you are one of the reasons why. Thank you.

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