Hey Friend, this post is a little more personal.
I travel more than your average girl with a 9-5 job, but actually find it very uncomfortable. I don’t read a lot about the annoyances of travelling, so here on my travel blog I’m talking about all the things I really hate about travelling.
Skip to the end if you want to read the good news first, because I promise this one has a happy ending.
Why I travel
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that was able to go on summer vacations every year. Before I’d finished high school I’d been to Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Phoenix, Hawaii, and many places across Canada. I didn’t grow up thinking “I’d like to do this more in future,” it was something that was already written into the regular fabric of my life.
Fast forward to finishing University and working in a company back home in Vancouver. It was great, it was nice to be close to friends and family, and Vancouver is as good as cities get. At this point though, I’d never been to Europe, and had a particular obsession with London. It might have been Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Winning London that influenced me, but hey, it did the job!
Throughout that year I’d been slowly planning a long trip to Europe with a friend, but knew that I wanted more of a base than a nomadic lifestyle. When our plans started to go in different directions, and I lost my best friend in a tragic accident, I knew it was time to go.
What makes me uncomfortable about travelling
If you add up all my travel dates, which I have done, I’m somewhere else at least 3 months of every year. This includes Christmas at home with my family, weekends with friends in London, quick trips to new cities around Europe, and all the rest. I’ve taken a lot of planes, trains, and buses, and have really figured out my travel style.
What might be a bit shocking to hear is that I actually hate flying. I hate when the plane is taking off and I’m there trying to look relaxed so the person next to me doesn’t notice (like they’d care), all the while my neck is extremely tense, waiting for the first air pocket of turbulence.
I do relax, once I’m certain the plane won’t drop out of the sky, but then the fasten seatbelt sign pings back on. The flight attendants say calmly that everyone has to go back to their seats so they don’t accidentally get slammed into the ceiling when it gets bumpy. And then we wait. We play it cool, like we’re not worried about the hot coffee sitting on the tray table without a lid.
I’m also not a fan of the people who specifically book the window seat, all the while knowing they’re also avid airplane bathroom users. If you know you’re going to get up all the time, why not try an aisle seat? Or if you want to sleep, maybe don’t request an aisle seat. I’m the worst for waking people up (as in, I don’t), making for a few really uncomfortable long haul flights over the years.
My absolute least favourite thing about travel
I love being somewhere new, but I hate actually getting there. A 60 minute flight from Dublin to London is in fact a six-hour ordeal. Let me break this one down:
- It takes an hour to get to the airport, whether you’re stuck in taxi traffic or stopping every five minutes on a bus
- You have to wander around the airport to get to the check-in desks, and there are often not enough people on staff, so you wait in long lines
- Then you need to undress and unpack at security, who don’t care that you took 20 minutes to get everything neatly into your bag in the first place. And frankly, some of them aren’t very nice. I do this a lot so don’t get yelled at, but always feel so bad for infrequent flyers who are belittled in front of everyone for not getting a separate tray for their shoes
- Then you’re stuck in the airport, buying things you don’t want in Duty Free, because you had to get there early enough to get through security
- You’ll usually board your flight when you’re meant to take off, and then they’ll hold the plane for someone else to make a connection. When you’re trying to make a tight connection do they hold the plane from London to Vancouver for you? No, of course not
- Then you arrive at your destination and wait in long lines for customs, and collect your luggage
- You now find yourself hours outside of the city and try to figure out what train or bus to get on, and how to buy a ticket to town but ‘not going via XYZ city’ that you’ve never heard of
- Hours later you’ve arrived at your accommodation, tired as ever and only a short hop from home
I recently wrote a post about travelling through airports stress-free, so if the above scenario makes you feel queasy, check it out here.
Why I haven’t stopped travelling
Despite the rant above, I haven’t stopped. The more I travel, the more I continue to travel. The easier it becomes to travel, the easier it is to find friends to go with me. The cheaper the flights are, the more flights I seem to book. For a long time I didn’t think I travelled that much, but it’s when I speak to friends that have been in the same country for 3-4 months that I realise my standard is 2-4 weeks without taking a flight.
Travel has helped my overcome shyness and introversion, reminded me of the value of my languages, and how to be understanding and accepting of other cultures. So many are quick to judge someone from another country who is doing something they don’t understand, but when you go to their country you can see just how normal that behaviour is. Tolerance and acceptance is something this world could do with a lot more of.
So I keep travelling, despite my discomfort, because what I’m learning on my adventures far outweighs the negatives aspects of the travelling bit of travelling.
I strongly encourage you to do the same.