This is my first full week at home and in my normal office since mid January, and I couldn’t be happier about it. While I was away I shared a lot of what I was getting up to over on my Instagram story, and I’ve had some lovely messages from people to say they enjoyed following along. But as we all know on social media you don’t always get the full picture, something the critics love to point out (yawn). With the amount of travel I’ve done I definitely had my fair share of issues, ones that just aren’t that instagrammable but are part and parcel of the whole experience.
Hours on end spent at airports – even when you’re on time, even when you’re only taking hand luggage and can turn up an hour before take off. Mind. Numbing.
Turning into a psychotic ‘checker’ – repeatedly checking boarding times, departure times, gates, seat numbers, have I got my passport? connection times, onward hotel address… My phone would have tabs open for airport departure page, airport arrivals page, flight operator status page, airline app, an independent flight tracker and my boarding pass all at once. I’m blaming this entirely on the fact that most of my flights had connections which are nothing short of a complete pain in the arse.
Which brings me to transfer time anxiety. God what a struggle it is to get from one gate to another. No airport makes this easy – Heathrow, Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle – all a total maze, inadequately signed, badly staffed and gates about as far away from each other as possible.
When you develop a cough, sound like you smoke forty a day and are offered water from the air hostess after hurtling through transfers you know it’s just bloody unreasonable (or that a gym should be your final destination).
Travelling as a hand luggage only passenger has a lot of perks, but it also comes with it’s own set of stresses:
Firstly, security. You basically unpack and repack everything, just so you can put it all in separate trays. At one point I was steering 7 of them through the scanner. Electricals, liquids, jewellery, shoes, coat, scarf, hand bag, hand luggage…and I still set the beeper off. The miserable staff are there snarling at you to ‘stay with your luggage’ and you’re just like well I’m fucking trying but it’s currently strewn across the width of the room isn’t it?!
Secondly, cabin space. For full flights with limited room in the overhead lockers the airport staff take an annoying amount of glee at taking your hand luggage off you to put in the hold. I joined about four loyalty/priority schemes purely to avoid this. Once you’re sorted with that then it’s a doddle.
The general public reach new heights of irritating behavior. I have a low tolerance of anything irritating anyway, breathe too loudly or slurp your tea and I’ll be glaring at you. I just don’t understand how people can be so OBLIVIOUS to other people. Why would you chew as noisily as possible it is GROSS? Why would you let your child kick the back of someone’s seat fifty times and not tell them to pack it in? Why?
Travelling alone gets lonely. You can be busy working 95% of the time and feel like you have no time to yourself, but that five minutes you do get when you’re somewhere new, or see something beautiful, or surprising or different and you will wish someone close to you was experiencing it with you.
You miss home. I don’t really get homesick, more a desire for my own bed and full size toiletries, but every now and then it hit. Hearing a familiar accent at the airport, seeing your friends out for lunch together, and even watching the football scores roll in on twitter all got to me at some point. I really missed being in Newcastle when they beat Man U, and when the snow was at its worst and I was stranded in Copenhagen.
Getting emotional over the simplest of things. My Apple Watch goes off beeping when my heart rate increases quickly, and this actually happened when I caught sight of a bag of Doritos at the airport. Doritos! Doritos and good coffee were two things I will never take for granted again.
Flight bloat. It’s real and it’s vile. Face, hands, stomach, feet.
Your sleep will be all over the place. Even with no more than a one hour time difference travel is knackering, it’s restless nights and a fucked up body clock. I’ve been going to bed at 8:30 for the past three nights trying to catch up.
Instagram doesn’t show the disappointment in a place or a hotel. There’s not many places I’ve ever been to that I’ve not liked, or found some positives, but there’s nothing worse than a crappy hotel. Thankfully I only had one.
The frustration of overbooked flights. Finding that the stupid airline has deliberately overbooked a flight in case of no shows, and you’re the poor sod stuck on standby is simply infuriating.
So while it is amazing to be able to travel to new places, both for work and in general, like anything remember it’s often only the positives people share.
At times you’re just knackered, missing home, craving an actual salad, in desperate need of a razor (not allowed in hand luggage, hello Hagrid!), pissed off at strangers, getting emotional at Doritos, gasping for fresh air and running like a woman possessed through airports.
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