What is it really like having a face full of fluff on the road?
Beards are real dividers at the best of times; people either love them or hate them (my family falls firmly into that last category), but if you go to a country that beards and hipsters aren’t common (most of them), well, that chasm seems even wider.
If you have a big bushy beard and you are travelling through Eastern Europe, expect to be stared at. A lot.
Recently, while walking the streets of Sighisoara in Romania, I was eating a banana. With my backpack, sometimes I have a bit of a bowl when I walk. Now I am a hairy man, so when a woman stopped in here tracks, pointed at me and made monkey sounds, I couldn’t help but laugh at her remarkably accurate observation.
With that in mind, here are some of the pros and cons of travelling with a beard:
People will think you are mental. Or homeless. Or a mental homeless person. Why is this a pro? Well, Eastern Europeans, especially Serbians, are renowned for being a little intimidating themselves, yet they will be intimidated of your beard and therefore will leave you alone. Win.
It’s not exactly attractive. I know a lot of travellers tend to lower their standards and expectations when it comes to guys on the road, but let’s be honest; a face full of fluff isn’t exactly what you are looking for.
As previously said, you get to stroke it. For those of you who can’t grow a beard (because you are of a female disposition or because you’re not really a man), you will have no idea how calming it is to stroke a beard. Whenever you are stressed or worried when travelling, just stroke away (your beard that is).
Any number of things can get lost in it. When you have an awesome beard, everyone always asks: “Don’t you always get things stuck in it, like in The Twits?” Yes. Yes you do. Recently I ate some fish and I lost a fishbone in my beard. I never found it. I still don’t know where it went.
You don’t have to worry about shaving, saving you time, effort and energy; time, effort and energy that can be spent on other things, such as sitting in a bar, sipping a beer, watching the world go by while stroking your beard.
If you are travelling in the middle of summer, it can be pretty hot, and all of your sweat drips and collects in your beard. Also, as you get a tan, you will be forced to keep the beard, otherwise you will have a weird two-tone face when you shave it off (please trust me on that one).
Beards make you an indeterminate age. It literally becomes impossible to tell what age you are. This is handy when you are travelling because if you are hanging out with a bunch of 20-year-olds you can lie and say you are 20 too – “yeah, the beard makes me look 28” – the same works the other way too.
Beard + the surname Sherifi = Muslim. Not that I’ve got a problem with looking like a Muslim but it always leads to the same conversation – “You are Muslim? Sherifi; that’s Muslim. Beard; that’s Muslim. Why don’t you want to be a Muslim? Have you got a problem with Muslims?” – you can see where it goes.
Strangers come up to you and ask to stroke your beard. This feels surprisingly good, and it gives you an insight into what it must be like to be a dog.
It is always mental people, homeless people or drunks who do this. It is never, ever, women.
Up until this point I have had a beard. However, I wouldn’t want people to say this is a half-baked biased article in favour of beards, so purely for research purposes I decided to shave it off.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I was clean shaven, but I suspect it was well over a year ago, so I’ll look at this as my yearly shave.
Let me tell you something now, since I have shaved my beard off I do not like it at all; my face doesn’t look right, it doesn’t feel right. I think everything is better with a beard. Everything.
Much like Samson, I feel I have lost the source of what is me, of who I am. Now I need to grow it back.
So, for all those guys out there, those are my pros and cons of travelling with a beard.
Think I’ve missed something? Then let me know! If you’ve got any pros and cons of travelling with a beard then post it in the comment box below.