I’m labouring through the holiday refund emails. Thanks to my propensity for booking holidays a year in advance, I have a few on hand to cancel. It pains me to receive messages back from small operators, begging to consider credit in lieu of a refund. I’m trying to support where I can. That said it’s impossible to know when we will be able to travel again. I live in Singapore where we abide by very strict rules and even if I could exit, I would incur a 14 day quarantine on return.
Which leads me to reminisce about my travels and all the things I love. More than ever I am drawn to travellers blog posts, insta travel photography and reading my old travel journals. We were so very lucky. To travel and not question how or when we were going to do it. To jump on a budget flight. To plan an overseas trip for a friend’s 40th. To spend all year looking forward to a two week road trip. I know the world will look very different but I can’t wait to do it again.
Here are some of the things I miss….
Planning a holiday
Contrary to most, I do love this. But at times it would feel onerous, chasing the cheapest deal, trying to get through to an airline call centre. I would love to be planning a trip right now! Seeking answers on the Tripadvisor forum and feeling like a winner when I’ve booked my flights with air miles.
The day of
My husband calls me ‘ratty travel Nicky’. If he had his way, he’d cruise up to the Gate, just as it was closing. I’m fretting from the moment I’ve woken up. Have I forgotten anything? Will we get decent seats? Fighting with my husband to go and sit at the Gate an hour before the flight. The truth is, I was never that excited in the airport as I always just wanted to get on the plane. Now I’d give anything to be in an immigration queue. I don’t even mind a US style two hour wait. At least I’d be going somewhere.
On the plane
I’m a nervous flyer so I usually dread the flying. Yet now I look back at it with rose tinted specs. The chance to sit on a chair, drink wine and watch endless amounts of TV? Yes please. I’ll take the noises and bumps (although not the engine failure, you can take that one back). I’d even take the smelly toilets with wet floors. Or fighting over the armrest with my neighbour.
For me there are three types of arrival; an excited feeling of return to a favourite country (Thailand), a contentment that you’re ‘home’ (London) and the best one.. visiting a new country for the first time. Nothing beats staring out the taxi window as you peer at a marvellous new land you have yet to explore. Who cares if there’s traffic or you’re exhausted. You’re on your way to somewhere new.
As much as I’m a travel nut, I’m also a foodie. This doesn’t mean Michelin or bust. I mean doing your research to find the very best local food, whether that’s a Chicago deep dish pizza or Vietnamese coffee. My husband plans our US road trips around meals devoured in the tv show ‘Man Vs Food’. In fact we’ll often trawl YouTube for any foodie clips related to our destination. This summer we were supposed to be headed to Utah. Earmarked for the trip, a pastrami-topped cheeseburger from Crown Burgers. I look forward to making it one day. In the meantime I’ll have to live vicariously through YouTube.
As I spend so much time planning trips, I am always apprehensive as to whether accommodation will match expectations. It’s depressing to walk into a hotel room where your heart sinks. Naff carpet. Hair on pillow. Rattly aircon. Zero view. Yet I would love to be in that hotel room right now! Possibly donning my ridiculous holiday kaftan to head down to the pool…
Well Lockdown has certainly given us some family moments to remember (tempers, tantrums, tears anyone?). But I treasure our family holidays as a way to spend quality time with Jetlag & Mayhem. I love playing in the pool, searching for shells on the beach and playing Boggle at mealtimes. Right now I’d take the down sides too. Waking jetlagged children to ready them for the day. The endless moaning when dragging them on a long walk sightseeing. Complaints on arrival at a museum. I’d even gloss over their grumbling in the back of the car on a road trip.
Simply put, the best bit about travelling is experiencing the something new. Faces, places, language, food, street scenes, life. I’ve always loved this quote by Susan Sontag “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” We have all learnt so much from our travels. If anything this brief pause in time has made me hungrier than ever to explore the world. I took so much for granted. I always attempted to educate myself on where we were going but never more than I needed to. The next time I travel, I will take the time to truly appreciate where I am and what I’m seeing.