When friends and family ask me if I am excited about an upcoming trip – I hardly call it a ‘holiday’. Up at 7 am, backpack rearranged, phone recharged, breakfasted and down to the hotel lobby for an 8 am departure by public bus, or train or taxi I look at them puzzled. I don’t call this a holiday. It is a trip! Then by bother. I am not the sort of traveller who lolly around a resort with a cocktail in hand, a trashy magazine and checking on the availability of a massage and wondering where to have dinner tonight.
I like to be pushed outside my comfort zone. Meet new people, to be challenged, get to the airport on time making sure I have my passport, flight details, insurance, visa, currency and the house sitter for the dog. Are all bills paid up to date? I once returned from a Christmas holiday in the UK with the then boyfriend to find my electricity account details had not been received and yes arriving home on a hot January in Sydney to a freezer of decaying food was marginally better than finding your apartment had been robbed.
One wonders…will the house sitter actually arrive and look after your dog, house and garden. Yes…they have provided a police check but does that mean anything these days. Does she have the details of the vet, itinerary, phone numbers of immediate family and will she remember to water your herb garden.
So you join the queue to check in, no upgrade in spite of a little flirting and a cheery smile, go through security and immigration. Is there anything more boring? Then wait! wait!
Finally you board and shock horror the flight is not only full (no extra seats for a little extra comfort) but you are next to a family of four small children. I try and pretend that travelling with my children ….three boys! was a nightmare that did not exist. Even a gin and tonic did not soothe the memory.
So the food and drink trolley rolled along looking more like a train wreck by the time it reached me but at least you hope there is a nice glass of something exciting to go with your ‘sorry we have run out of the beef but there is a spicy noodle dish available’
Air travel is boring! No longer exciting. Changing flights, terminals and seats adds to the exhaustion. Fortunately the fear of flying has alluded me in the big birds in the sky. Memories of almost being struck by lightning in a tropical storm travelling in a four seater in North Queensland many years ago remain a distant memory.
So why do I travel? I could stay at home – play tennis, walk the dog, lunch with friends, work on my blog and instagram, bake, try new recipes for my vegan and vegetarian finger food business, go to book club, see movies and read and generally be in a boring old …….
But I also read the travel brochures in weekend newspapers promising sampling new experiences, food, wine, meeting and making new friends, customs, traditions, visiting art galleries and museums and I am there! I look in anticipation to new experiences and challenges (riding a bicycle is now a ‘ no-no’ after falling off a bike in Vietnam resulting in broken ribs but sitting on the back of a motorbike or riding in a tuk-tuk is another matter.) Announcing to those who enquire “Where are you off to next, Pam?” I have happily announced Japan, India, Cuba or in this case Croatia, Slovenia, and the Balkan States.
Does this make me a more interesting, tolerant, or exciting dinner party guest….or just a bore telling all and sundry about eating roasted offal or sipping brandy in a remote part of the world. Or having my handbag stolen the day before I was due to arrive home from Portugal. No passport, money, camera, phone……
Hopefully not again! But I do want to meet new people who push me outside of my comfort zone too. Often one meets people who have been through horrible wars but they have the strength to get up and start again. It makes me feel grateful for the luxuries I have been fortunate to have been born in the Lucky Country.
Travel broadens the mind.