Although I love to travel, there have always been some things about traveling that I have never really liked. You know, those things you could do without when you travel. Those things that give you a bit of a stomach ache or that raise the pulse to a techno beat and make the stress artery in the forehead pulse a little extra hard. I have to admit one thing. Today is 36 weeks since I was last abroad. Or 254 days. 254 days of an ENDLESS missing for the world. It has gone so far that I even miss it which I actually find a little annoying when I travel. Those things I thought I would never miss about traveling abroad - but now I almost long for them!
1: Unsafe transport
Unsafe cars, unsafe roads and unsafe boats. There are many things I love about traveling, but unsafe transportation is not one of them.
My first visit to India could have started better. Even though I was traveling in a nice car from the airport, the driver managed to run over a wild dog and touch a pedestrian's butt on the way to the hotel. However, everything happened at crawling speed in a throng of motorbikes, rickshaws and pedestrians. In the middle of the pitch black night. India is probably without a doubt the worst traffic I have ever experienced. Too many people, too many motorbikes and (seemingly) no traffic rules.
The traffic in Haiti was not great either, but rather because the roads hardly existed. It was rather like riding across a squishy mud field at a slow pace. If it had started raining, we would definitely have gotten stuck and been stuck for God knows how long.
I don't like going by boat. Especially not to go by boat in countries where maritime safety is questionable and there are almost daily news about boats that have sunk or broken at sea. Last summer we neglected to go to the Gili Islands from Bali after I read about a recent boat accident, saw the condition of the ships and checked the weather forecast. It must be flat water and knee-deep sea before I put the family in a scurf over the open sea.
My worst boat trip ever was probably in Jamaica, where we took a boat out to snorkel and swim in the sea fire. On the way back, it blew up into a storm and the boat was tossed between the waves like a little mitten. I put on a life jacket and held on for king and country. The English in the back of the boat uncorked beer and drank more instead. It got dark before we got ashore and we all left with very shaky legs. However, the English would probably have had a more enjoyable boat trip than I had.
2. Delayed flights
Flights get delayed sometimes and it's always a bit annoying. Most of the time, however, it just means that we stay in the lounge for half an hour longer and eat chips, but sometimes it becomes a little less peaceful. My worst memory from a layover is from Charles de Gaulle, where I had to run all over the airport for everything the soles carried with a one-year-old in my arms to make it to the gate before it closed. You don't want to miss the last plane to Stockholm for the day. I made it though, because it was Charles de Gaulle. Not a single plane seemed to be on time there.
The longest delay happened to Anders on the way home from San Francisco, where the plane was delayed for technical reasons until the next day and he had to check into a seedy motel that the American airline had booked him into. Not much worked on that trip back to Sweden and he landed almost a day later than planned. The kind of journey that ends with you saying "I will never again fly with airline X... "
I'm super careful about reading up on what applies to customs in different countries, but I always get a slightly higher heart rate when we're about to enter a country. Especially when we travel to Australia. What if I missed that I have something with me that I am not allowed to have with me? I have watched The border guards and always go towards red if I'm the least bit unsure. If you're wondering what happens if you go red at customs in Australia with wooden IKEA pencils and a pair of wooden heeled shoes? You get a long look from a customs officer who looks at you with tired eyes and says "Nice shoes. Welcome to Australia".
Once we got stuck a little longer than usual in customs in the USA with a can of baby food with the flavor of "Thai chicken". It took a while to explain to the gruff customs officers that we were carrying SWEDISH chicken, with Thai spices. Not Thai chicken like it said on the can.
4. Jet lag
I'm one of those people who isn't usually that affected by jet lag. So much so, that I usually work the day after I get home from Australia. It's just to torture. But it hasn't always been like that - especially not when the daughter was smaller.
I had the worst jet lag ever when we flew to Vancouver when little E was 2 years old. Anders was going to drive right after we landed and needed to sleep properly on the flight. My lot therefore fell to taking care of the daughter. After a long journey with several stopovers, we landed in the middle of the day in Vancouver. Our hotel was booked in Whistler – only 12 miles away. Anders had slept on the flight and was alert and able to drive, but he had to use the GPS to find the hotel without my help. I was really off. Jet lag deluxe extra everything with John Blund topping. I couldn't say a single word clearly without slurring like I was drunk! An incredibly scary feeling. But at least I slept well that night 🙂
5. Overbooked flights
I understand that airlines want to maximize profit with their flights, but overbooked flights are a scourge. The worst time we experienced this was on our honeymoon, when we were flying to Las Vegas via Chicago on codeshare Star Alliance. As we had a fairly complicated ticket with many legs, we were not allowed to check in at the machines. No problem. We politely stood in the long long check-in line. Although we were out in good time, it was not enough. When we got to the check-in counter, the woman at the check-in says – “Sorry, but the flight is overbooked. You are put on stand-by". Believe me when I say that I did not take this news well. I cried with anger! Shouldn't we be off on our honeymoon? However, the woman saw our desperation and said she would make sure it was fixed. Once at the gate, we got new boarding passes with seats in row 1. So a very boring start to the honeymoon turned into a very pleasant start in business class, thanks to SAS overbookings.
6. Taxi drivers who try to blow you
Is there anything more annoying than taxi drivers trying to blow you? If it is here at home in Stockholm (when will this abomination be stopped?!) or abroad.
I have studied French once upon a time, but my Spanish skills come solely from language course apps on my phone and languishing Spanish TV series. Even so, I managed in Spanish to get a trick taxi driver (who was trying to take an expensive detour) to turn around and go in the right direction to Plaça de Catalunya. A good proof that it is possible to get pretty far with a few words and a hot temper.
In Tallinn we had to pay an overcharge for the taxi on the way from the airport to the hotel. But when it comes to a maximum of SEK 100, I can hardly even get upset. On vacation, time is money. Even if you feel a little winded.
7. Closed attractions
How come it feels like attractions are very often under renovation or closed when I'm visiting? This may be partly because I love to travel in the off-season, but it may also be due to constant bad luck and bad timing. If that's the cable car to the Aletsch Glacier (which had temporarily closed for renovations on the day we passed by) or the restaurant Hisa Franko in Slovenia (which is always closed on Mondays, which we completely missed). If only I had checked everything out a little more before we left, we could have avoided it. Annoying.
8. Stomach bacilli
You who never got sick to your stomach during a holiday - congratulations to you! I've definitely been through some serious setbacks over the years. I'm usually careful not to eat food that could make me sick, but it's not always possible to avoid everything.
Many years ago I had my birthday at Railay beach. We traveled with backpacks and had pretty much only eaten cheap chicken cashewnuts and fried rice the whole holiday. But this evening was my birthday, so we splurged and ordered prawns. The prawns were quite dry and chewy, but I didn't realize that until the middle of the night when both Anders and I were folded over the toilet seat. My goodness, how bad we felt! I remember trying to vomit quietly so that Anders would get some sleep before it was his turn to vomit again. We didn't have air conditioning in the room either, so we were cold and sweaty at the same time. A special experience!
Another hearty trip was to the Dominican Republic. There, my stomach hit backwards - no matter what I ate. The doctor ended up telling me not to drink the bottled water, because it could be contaminated(?). So it was Coca Cola around the clock until I got better. Which magically worked.
There is a reason why I love to travel in the off-season. The number of tourists. I don't like tourists. Especially not too many tourists who can't behave. I know, I'm a tourist too - but I have the sense to understand that you shouldn't climb statues, don't walk outside fences, don't wear bikinis in temples and don't play football in religious buildings. It hurts to see tourist marauders. So bad, that I usually leave there annoyed.
10. Pack / Unpack
Last on the list, but a real scourge. Pack and unpack. I'm good at packing, but I don't think it's fun. Most often it happens at the last second and ends up with me forgetting to pack something vital and essential to life. Like a lure. However, there is nothing I dislike as much as unpacking. Seeing a bag of dirty laundry in the hall does not make anyone happy. It just reminds you of how wonderful you had it and that you should book a laundry room.
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Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.