This month's travel link-up theme is "Your Travel Personality" so I have a confession to make: I am the anti-traveller. Which is both a surprising and embarrassing admission to make in the face of my recent "highly commended" recognition at the UK Blog Awards' Travel category.
The mere words, "Let's plan a holiday!" sends chills down my spine. From the moment we begin to plan to the minute we step off the plane, I'm in constant panic mode. Case in point: Sri Lanka. For weeks before our departure, I obsessed over vaccinations, dengue fever, malaria, road conditions, the quality of food, visas, and more. Of course, as soon as we stepped off the plane, I took one look at the palm trees, felt the sun on my skin, and said, "I could stay here for the rest of our trip and be happy!" Then, on the cab ride to our first hotel: "I could be in this car for the rest of our trip and I'd be happy!" Then, at the actual hotel: "I could ..." You get the idea.
I'm fine when I'm there. It's just everything that comes before it that's the problem.
My biggest issues with travel planning?
1. Finding dates that work for both of us
I really don't know why this is so difficult. We both have 25+ days per year to take as vacation, but I think at the back of my mind is this concept of "saving". If you're an expat, then you'll probably know what I mean: saving up enough holiday to go "home" at least 1-2 times (if that). I'm always paranoid that I won't have enough days "saved" up for Christmas or a summer visit.
2. Booking the flights
I kind of just close my eyes and/or do something in the other room while John does this. I make helpful suggestions like, "That airline sounds so sketchy" and Google the last time they crashed. I make a face when he suggests an early flight to save a few hundred pounds. Then I see the cost of the flights and I make this gasping noise at the back of my throat before John rolls his eyes and clicks "Proceed to payment".
3. Planning our itinerary
I trawl through travel blogs and review forums, I read guide after guide, and I print out a map. I trace a plausible route with my finger, get frustrated after 5 minutes of doing so because I've realized that the driving distances are farther apart then I'd originally thought, and flop on the couch with my arm thrown over my face, while John patiently arranges possibilities into in a detailed spreadsheet.
4. Booking our accommodation
This. Is. The. Worst. I check all my favorite sites first (i-escape, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, SLH) before focusing on the minutiae of every negative review. "Oh, I found a great place!" I'll yell to John from the laptop. "Oh wait ... this says that the pool is like a feeding frenzy for mosquitos after 4 pm. Nevermind. Oh! I found another place! This one looks even better. Oh wait ..."
5. Preparing for our trip
I basically carry around a mini Boots pharmacy with me for the duration of our trip. Need bug spray? Got it. Rehydration sachets? Got it. Antacid? Yup, have it. Antihistamines? Duh. I also obsessively buy cash in whatever currency we need the day before our trip - just in case we can't get cash out at the airport for some reason (happened to both of us in Thailand, when our banks - despite us telling them beforehand that we were travelling - decided that we were definitely fraudsters trying to withdraw money from Thailand. Sigh.
John always jokes that if it wasn't for him, our holidays would be limited to destinations as far-flung as, oh, the Isles of Scilly or maybe Guernsey. I'm a stressy, anxious, panicky, irritable traveller. I don't do well in airports and I freak out when I have to fumble for my passport.
You have to understand that my childhood travel experiences were very sanitized and - dare I say - limited. Sure, we travelled to Hong Kong at least once a year to visit relatives, but it was scheduled, predictable, and familiar. We were shuttled from point A to B, accompanied by my parents, from shopping mall to restaurant to market. "Explore" wasn't in our vocabulary. In fact, when I go to Hong Kong later this year with John, it'll be the first time I won't be there with my parents for every second of our trip. It will be strange and unfamiliar all over again.
Travelling with John has definitely expanded my travel personality (and sometimes even pushed it past its comfort zone!): I'm now more adventurous, spontaneous (I've totally embraced not booking all of our accommodation until we're there - game changer), and eager to explore.
What's your travel personality? Are you cool, calm, and collected, or panicked and anxious like me?
This post is part of July's Travel Link-Up series. Be sure to check out the other posts in this month's link-up, hosted by Emma, Kelly, Rebecca, and Catherine.