The things about travel that really suck…

Melbourne's Laneways

I’m writing today, set up at the coffee shop in the Brisbane International Airport. It’s 9:23am and our flight to Hong Kong leaves at 10:50am, just enough time to grab a coffee and write today’s blog post.

Airports and long haul flights are a funny thing, they’re a mix of utter excitement, stress and really strict rules. It hasn’t really felt like we’re going to Hong Kong, even now sitting here and listening to other flights being called and watching people stock up on obscene amounts of duty-free chocolate and alcohol, it still doesn’t feel real. I’m caught between the excitement of going on this awesome adventure and the dread of being confined to a chair in an aluminium tube for the next 9 hours.

That’s the thing, travel is amazing and it’s so much fun and you have the best adventures but at the same time there are those tiny little elements that kinda suck. You aren’t supposed to think about them or whine about them though, because you’re very fortunate to be going away and mentioning any of these sucky things could be seen as being a brat or a little bit ungrateful. But stuff it, I’m putting it out there… there are some parts of travel that really stink.

As we arrive at the departures hall we see the big long queues waiting to check-in and drop off bags. Damn. But wait, there’s no queues over at Qantas! Why? What’s going on? This seems suspicious. The big long queues have been replaced by an army of self-serve kiosks. I love self-serve kiosks, they’re where my A-Type personality can really shine and I can make up time on the other people just standing there staring blankly at the screen. I whiz through it without any hassles and it prints off our bag tags, now all we need to do is drop the bags. But, hold on, where the heck are our boarding passes? sigh of course… the magical box hasn’t printed them. Off we trot to the customer service desk. I was way too confident, serves me right.

Melbourne's Laneways

Melbourne’s Laneways

Going through security the tiny woman in front of us has no clue what is going on. She has her bag on the conveyor belt, waiting to go through the scanner, and seems to be rifling through the bag looking for something that she probably doesn’t need at this point. The people ahead of her have gone through the metal detector and she just stands there, fixed on finding whatever is in her bag. I move to go around her but as I do she looks up and moves forward another few steps, then stops again. There’s no getting around her. We’re trapped.

At the other end of the security scanner she stands there staring off into space, totally unaware her bag is just sitting there waiting for her to grab it and, as a result, holding up everyone else’s bags. She panics when she finally sees it and grabs her bag, knocking a whole stack of trays over in the process. I feel bad for her.

Standing in the line, waiting to go through customs, I look up and see a man standing in the line in front of me. His massive finger is wedged inside his nose and his digging away. He pulls his finger out and inspects the massive booger sticking up off his finger. My stomach turns and I gag, it’s all I can do to stop myself from throwing up. He balls it up between his fingers and flicks it away. I cringe.

As we approach the customs desk a young couple, possibly from Japan based on how cool their clothes are, pushes past as they politely explain they’ve just heard their final call and may miss their flight. I feel immediately stressed for them, they have that really distinct frazzled look about them. They’re freaking the hell out. They get up to the customs desk and they haven’t filled out their exit cards. The customs officer is asking them questions but they can’t understand her. The people who just let them skip the line are frustrated. The tension builds. I start to feel awkward and look away, immediately remembering Booger Man and I start feeling queasy again. My photographic memory will be the death of me.

Once you’re through the time-consuming bits you’re unleashed on the terminal. Duty free shops selling everything you can think of, but mostly chocolate and booze, and really tacky shops that sell things you’d never really buy, like Kangaroo Scrotum coin purses. Why, Australia? WHY? There’s also the news agent which sells magazines and chocolate bars at $5 a piece and the coffee shops that sell you a cup of the good stuff for $7. We are at their mercy and they know it.

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Airports are also fraught with slow-walkers, the people who love to dawdle and move around at a glacial pace. If you find yourself stuck behind a herd of slow-walkers you know you’re in real trouble. Suddenly you find yourself feeling like a bowling ball, wondering if anyone would really say anything if you just barged through them all.

I always get anxious thinking about sitting on the plane for the entire length of the flight, in this case 9 or so hours. I compare that amount of time to how long I’ve sat on a plane before and talk myself into it, “Mate, you’ve done 14 hours before. 9 will be a cinch!” I plan my attack, “Okay, so by the time you get on and get settled. You and Matt will talk for a bit and maybe go through your plans once you arrive, then you’ll watch a few movies and then they’ll roll out the food. After that you’ll read your book and then watch another few movies. You’ll be fiiiiiiiine.”

The key is to not check the time, right? Just hold off looking for as long as humanly possible and then surprise yourself with how long you’ve got left to go. Only, there’s nothing worse than when you look at the time and realise you’ve still got 6 hours to go.

Despite all these things that drive us mad, we still sign up for it and, not only that, but we pay top dollar for it too! Why are we subjecting ourselves to these shitty social situations where poor planning, inflated prices, poor personal hygiene and low social awareness run rife? Because it’s totally worth it. The chance to see a new city or country, experience another culture and have a really fun time are completely worth the shitty points.

Do I long for the day I’m able to fly first class all the way and feel like a bit of a super-star, holed up in airport lounges and whatnot? Ahhh yeah, I’m hanging out for that! But, in the meantime, I’m happy to put up with all the stuff that’s annoying and gross because they’re kinda the best stories. So, here’s to you, Booger Man…. have a great holiday, you gross, gross individual.

 

What are the things about travel that get your goat? What drives you mad or really ticks you off when you’re in transit? I’d love to hear your horror stories or just the things that irk you about travel. So, please share in the comments below or on Facebook. 


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If my posting is a bit sporadic over the next 4 weeks it’s because I’m out in the world, taking photos and video, discovering wonderful things I can share with you to help you plan your trip to Hong Kong and China and to inspire you to travel ūüôā

 

11 Comments on The things about travel that really suck…

  1. slow walker are my travel nemesis!

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    • Hong Kong is slow walker central, Emma! But, I’m learning to breathe through it and see it as a call for me to slow down…

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      • The funny thing was that when I arrived in Hong Kong I was told so many times how fast the pace of life is and how everyone is always in a rush! They must have a different notion of fast to Londoners.

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  2. roxellamay // May 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm // Reply

    You have written a really detailed and humorous and I absolutely adore it! It is so damn relatable for everyone! I abhor queues at the airport no matter for what. And the abominable coffee prices too, so evil of them! And kangaroo scrotum coin purses? God! I never knew something like that existed! Why would someone want to store their change in a scrotum?? Haha! ūüôā

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  3. woodenitbeamazing // May 6, 2015 at 6:39 pm // Reply

    Hi Phoebe,

    This is an excellent post! I Love it!!! I just got back from a great vacation and have to say – its like you’re saying the things I’ve been feeling very strongly too!

    I HATE the long lines at bag drop offs too, and I especially hate standing in line and getting my bags checked hundreds of time before I can pass security and then customs. And not once was the check thorough – trust me. I had a bottle of perfume in my bag that I was sure someone was going to pull out and throw away(I didn’t mind ‘coz at least I had a way to freshen up until it was gone) but that didn’t happen even as I moved across 3 countries and endless checks. They are inconvenient, not thorough. Shame on those guys.

    But what I hate the most is the long crazy waiting in-between flights where you are just desperate to get over with the journey and start having fun. And not all airports are comfortable. Plus some are just inconveniently designed! Like the last airport – there were no washrooms you can access once you have answered the boarding call of the flight, which more often than not is 45 minutes prior to when you’ll actually board the flight. It was a room with tons of people, at 6am in the morning, when you have just had your tea/coffee and might want to use the loo before you actually get on the flight. Insane! I had to get a special ‘transition’ pass to use one.

    And oh yes, on my last international vacation to Maldives via Columbo, Sri Lanka, I found the most disgustingly dirty, clogged and littered loos at 5am! Totally ruins your mood first thing in the morning.

    And yes – That Guy who will recline his seat the moment he sits on the plane gets to everyone. And on this last mentioned trip, That Guy kept pushing his seat back ….kinda like shoving himself deeper into it, and his seat kept smashing my knees until I had to tap on his shoulder and tell him “I don’t think this seat can be pushed any further back. Please stop that, I already have no space”. I guess sometimes you HAVE to say something!!!!

    All the best for your trip Phoebe and Matt….hope you have tons of fun!

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  4. Bahaha. Your last line is gold and i literally laughed out loud.

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  5. That guy. You know, the one who just sat infront is you, and promptly put his seat back. Your tray is now on your lap, your knees are touching his seat, and you wish it was socially acceptable to backhand him for being an ass before the plane’s doors have even closed. I hate that guy. The world would be a better place if plane seats couldn’t recline at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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