Two weeks ago I returned from a month long adventure overseas with my family for my sister’s 21st birthday. We went on a 16 night Royal Caribbean cruise from Barcelona to Dubai on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship and it was by far the best holiday I’ve ever been on. However, being anywhere for a month is bound to cause a bit of irritation and there are always going to be things that grind your gears on holiday just from the sheer fact that you’re out of your comfort zone in an environment that you have very little control over. These are some of the things I find most annoying when travelling and I would love to hear what some of yours are.
- Living out of a suitcase. No matter how well you roll your clothes or use those cool little packing cubes, you cannot escape creasing. Also, if you happen to be lucky enough to be travelling for a longer period of time, it’s inevitable that you will have to do the dreaded ‘undies wash’ in the hotel sink, which just never seems to get your undies that clean (this might have something to do with using hotel shampoo instead of actual laundry detergent).
- Flying with children. This is in no way aimed at all parents who travel with their children. I applaud these parents. I think it’s admirable that they are creating these experiences for their children and making special family memories. I’m talking about that select group of parents who believe that the comfort of their own children should be at the expense of everyone else’s on the plane. Their children are known to most reasonably seasoned travellers as: The Chairkickers.
- Language barriers. I had the experience of travelling to Belgium alone many years ago and was completely naive about the amount of English people speak there. Due to a miscommunication between myself and the friend I was staying with, we got our airports mixed up and I had to find a way to get myself to the other side of the city using public transport while not being able to speak a single word of the language. It was an adventure to say the least but also a valuable lesson in not making assumptions about other cultures.
- Having to be organised. This is especially true if you’re travelling alone as the buck stops with you. There’s only one of you to remember the passports, make sure you don’t miss the flight, have all the right travel documents and visas, make sure all your liquids in your hand luggage are under 100mls and in clear plastic bags, as well as a million other little things you have to remember when travelling. It’s a messy person’s nightmare!
- Getting sick. Being sick is no fun at the best of times (unless it’s the kind of ‘sick’ that requires you to stay home from work with a slight headache so you can spend the day in bed binge-watching Harry Potter and eating a lot of pizza). But being sick in a foreign country where not many people speak English and everything you’ve ever eaten in your life is pouring out of you and you think there’s a pretty good chance you should be heading to the hospital is a whole other kettle of fish. Don’t drink tap water and take your vitamins!
- Long layovers. There is something awfully creepy about being stuck in an airport terminal overnight in a faraway city with not many people around and everything closed up for the night. It’s like a scene from a horror movie. Also if you happen to be travelling alone, there’s the added bonus of having to go to the bathroom along with every single piece of luggage you are travelling with. Good times. I always seem to get my long layovers in airports that have those horrendous armrests on the rows of chairs to stop you from lying down. What’s so wrong with lying down?
- Aggressive street merchants. The last time I was in Bali I made the mistake of querying the price of some headphones at a market stall in Seminyak. The salesman followed me all the way up the street shouting the price again and again, waited for me while I was in a shop for at least twenty minutes and when he finally understood that I wasn’t buying the headphones (after me saying so at least fifty times) he began to call me all names under the sun until a nearby policeman moved him along. I’m not sure I understand how this particular sales tactic is meant to work. Do people eventually just give into their bullying and buy their products just to get rid of them?
- Wanderlust. This is an incurable ailment that most travellers will inevitably become afflicted with. It will ruin your bank account, make you more dissatisfied than ever with the everyday grind and make you a terrible conversationist because all you will want to talk about is your next adventure. Giving into the wanderlust doesn’t help the situation; it just makes the desire even greater than it was before. The worst thing of all is that you will be undeniably, permanently changed from your experiences and will never be able to look at the world around you with the same eyes ever again.