There’s a lot to love about traveling, like trying new foods or seeing amazing new landscapes, but it’s not all roses and joy. It can be boring at times. Confusing. Downright anxiety-ridden. As a fan of “bad news first, then good news”, I wanted to share what I dislike or plain old hate about traveling. In my next post, I’ll do what I enjoy about traveling.
Spending hours at a time in airports waiting for flights is rarely fun. And when traveling far overseas, I can spend a total of one to two days in airports, on planes, and at hotels. The minutes feel like hours, the hours feel like days, and by the time I arrive in my new location, the one to two days it took to get there makes my “old life” feel like it is years in the past.
If I’m so bored, I should find ways to pass the time, right? Right. In no particular order, here are some ways I try to entertain myself.
Writing. I bring a small notebook of one kind or another, and I try to jot down my thoughts, feelings, and observations. As I typically write at the airport or, occasionally, on the plane, there isn’t much to observe. That said, one time I did write a short story while on a two-hour flight. The beautiful clouds were my inspiration. If ever I feel brave enough to share it, I’ll let you know.
Reading. I rarely do this because I haven’t brought books along on my trips. They take up precious room, and every ounce of weight I can remove from my luggage is wonderful. On my upcoming move to Hungary, I’ll be more limited with luggage than I ever have been, so I doubt I’ll bring a book this time, either. Nevertheless, if I have something to read, like a magazine in the plane or the earlier pages in my notebooks, I might give reading a whirl to pass the time.
Eating. If I’m in the airport and have ample time on my hands, I might find a place to sit and eat, if only so I don’t have to stare at the same walls at the gate for hours. Because I got sick at the end of a flight once, I’m hesitant now to eat airplane food. So I try to eat something stomach-approved before or just after my flight, and I try to stock up on a few snacks to take on longer flights, too.
Sleeping. I only do this on planes, and I always try to time my sleep to match the timezone I’m going to arrive in.
Watching. On planes, I usually watch movies or clouds. In airports, I watch people—at least sometimes. Other times I watch whatever is on television.
Planning & Booking
Planning and booking flights and hotels stresses me out. What if the hotel doesn’t have my reservation? What if my layover isn’t long enough? Though they say there’s an airport shuttle to and from the hotel, what if there isn’t? Or what if it doesn’t run as early as I need it? What if there are no taxis and I have to walk to the airport from the hotel?!
This time around, I agonized over purchasing my tickets to Iceland and Hungary, and it’s still causing me to panic since I’ve never booked my tickets this way before. I’m also worried about the airport shuttle in Iceland.
Planning trips within my destination also makes me nervous. How do I get from A to B? Is this the right bus route? Did I get on the correct train? What if it’s an express train and I miss my stop? What if I didn’t budget enough money for this? How do I know that this is actually how much it costs? I don’t speak the language. I’m going to get hopelessly lost. What if I’m not adequately prepared for the weather? What if I run out of money?
Basically, I could never, ever, ever be a travel agent.
Plain and simple, I hate packing. I’m not good at it, and it stresses me out.
Did I include my necessary items? Are things packed according to airport regulations? Can I easily access everything I’ll need to take out for security or customs? Do I have copies of all the documents I may need, for myself and for airport officials? Did I pack enough clothing for all types of weather, assuming I’ll never buy any new clothing once I move? Is everything packed efficiently? Are my bags within the size and weight limits of each airline I’m flying with? Will they have to charge me for oversized/overweight luggage or for extra luggage I packed by mistake? (This is a particular concern for me on my upcoming move to Hungary.)
Airports & Transportation – the Nitty-Gritty
Once I know where I am, I have very little problem sitting in an airport or at a train station. Any concerns are minimal—“This is the right platform, correct?” When I’m on planes or public transportation, I’m not really worried, either. My only real point of anxiety is wondering if I’m going to miss my stop.
No, it’s the little details that freak me out. You can read all about airport ones in my previous post, but here’s a rundown again.
- Is this the correct ticketing line?
- Do my bags go here?
- Do I take such-and-such out for security checks, or does it stay in my bag?
- Do I take my shoes off for the security checks, or do I leave them on?
- Is this my gate? I didn’t miss an announcement changing my gate number, did I?
- Do I board now? Now? Now?
- We’re landing in [country]. Did I fill out this customs declaration form correctly?
- These are all the documents I’ll need to present to immigration, right?
- I know I have 4 hours to get to my next gate, but do I really have enough time?
So on and so forth. I’m terrified of doing things wrong, therefore making myself miss a flight, be denied admission into a country, having my luggage turned down because it didn’t fit restrictions, and all of those fun things.
I don’t know whether or not these worries stem from anxiety or from all the mishaps I’ve encountered over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever had one trip that has gone smoothly from start to finish, and I’m worried that my upcoming move is going to add itself to that list. I try to learn from my past mistakes, but something new always crops up. I guess it didn’t help that I tried booking my flights a different way than normal this time. It’s another learning “adventure”, I suppose.
What about you? Do you experience the same dislikes and worries? Does boredom not bother you whereas something else does? Are you my opposite, where flying unnerves you but going through the airport process is a piece of cake? I’d love to hear from you.