Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Travel Link-Up: 5 Reasons Why I'm The Anti-Traveller



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.
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41 comments

  1. It's annoying when you warn the bank you'll be abroad and they still take you for a fraudster. Sounds like you are becoming a more adventurous traveller as you go on. I'd say I'm the don't stop until you drop variety.

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

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    1. I know, Suze! I wish I had as much of an adventurous spirit as you :) It was lovely to see you last night but sad again that I didn't get to chat to you much! We must meet for drinks/tea some time xo

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  2. Lol! I think you might be more extreme then me! I don't get too worried about getting ill, though I was a bit scared of all the mosquito warnings in SA, and also what I was told about the effects of malaria tablets. It was all fine though and I'm still here to tell the tale ;)
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

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    1. Haha, I would have had a panic attack BEFORE I took the malaria tablets. I'd totally be the one to have terrible hallucinations! Glad to hear you weren't really affected, though :) xx

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  3. Lol! I think you might be more extreme then me! I don't get too worried about getting ill, though I was a bit scared of all the mosquito warnings in SA, and also what I was told about the effects of malaria tablets. It was all fine though and I'm still here to tell the tale ;)
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

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  4. Hahaha, yes we are most definitely travel buddies as far as number 4 is concerned!! As far as number 5 goes, I'm the girl who shows up at the beach in Florida and slaps her forehead saying "I FORGOT SUN TAN LOTION!"

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    1. Glad I'm not the only one who has hotel-booking anxiety! Yeah, I'd bring like, 4 bottles of sunscreen. Always over-prepared.

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  5. I have to admit I don't think I could leave booking accommodation until on the actual trip - just thinking about it gives me hives...

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    1. I USED TO BE LIKE THAT. But then I changed. Come over to the dark side!!! :D

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  6. I'm so with you on the review one. For the Amalfi Coast part of our honeymoon ALL the hotels are amazing so I started to get really finickety in my research, ruling hotels out because someone found a fly in their salad in 1993. In the end, rich booked it all on his day off and I came back to find everything organised for me! It pays to be fussy sometimes. Pleased you're embracing your inner-traveller a bit more! It takes guts!!

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

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    1. Laughed so hard at this, as you know. Your honeymoon will be so amazing! xx

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  7. I can totally relate. I used to be a lot like you, but after years of being married to the most laid back man on the planet, he's really chilled me out, in a good way. Now we kind of meet in the middle and it ends up working perfectly. A little bit of planning, a little bit of throwing caution to the wind. :o)

    Great post...and I LOVE that first photo. Where was it taken?

    V
    Life+1

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    1. SAME HERE!!! John is SUPER chilled and laid back. I'm anxiety queen. Now, he knows the types of things that would stress me out and tries to accommodate them before I get to that point, and I know the kinds of things I should be relaxing about more!

      Re: the photo, thanks! It was taken at a hotel in Sicily, but I refuse to name them because (while it was super pretty) a) I found maggots in my orange juice and they thought nothing of it (this is a hotel that charges EUR 240 per night) b) they followed me and my husband to the elevator after we had just spent EUR 70 on lunch one day, asking us which room we were in because they didn't believe we were hotel guests. So yeah. I was NOT a fan. But I was a fan of their decor.

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    2. Nooooooo! I was also curious about where this hotel was... and now I may never be able to drink orange juice agian.

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    3. Seriously, don't stay there (it's in Syracuse).

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  8. I totally panic before a trip and always try to convince myself I cannot go and get a bit teary and not sleeping in my bed and then yep totally in love the whole trip!!

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    1. Haha, you're a bit like me then, Bailie!

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  9. I think I'm the opposite of you.....I absolutely love planning trips......all the preparation is part of the fun for me...though I do always panic at the last minute about what totally vital item I've forgotten....and I always take an entire pharmacy with me!!

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    1. That's so funny, Jacky! I know a lot of people enjoy planning trips ... I can't think of anything worse!

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  10. Haha, ahh I LOVE planning trips, I find it so exciting! It is stressful coordinating dates though, and I have been known to go with someone else purely because I was so desperate to go but could only do *my* dates and my other friend couldn't :/ I'm really lucky that that friend is still friends with me...

    C x | Lux Life

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    1. Oh man, Catherine, we are total opposites! Finding dates is SO tricky though. I find that puts me in a panic already to begin with! I'm sure your friend was understanding ;) x

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  11. Ha! my sister is an epidemiologist, she keeps me informed about global disease outbreaks, whether I like it or not. Once I was up in the north of Australia and she rang to tell me that whatever virus had been reported in the town that I was in. For once taking her seriously, I said 'what are the symptoms' and she said 'oh, mmm, headache ... death'. !! Great topic for the link up and some great stories.

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    1. Oh no - that would send me into full panic mode straightaway! I'm really enjoying this topic too! Bloggers have been sharing some terrific stories.

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    2. p.s. thanks so much for stopping by to read!

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  12. Oh yeah I'm with you on the Boots pharmacy in my bag - when we went to Sri Lanka my medical kit was larger than Andy's, and he had been in Africa for 6 months!! At least you're an organised traveler!

    Lauren xx
    The Lifestyle Diaries

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  13. Booking accommodation is totally the worst! Not only are there usually hundreds of places to choose from but reading through all the reviews so often changes my mind about somewhere that looks amazing. I guess you have to take some reviews with a pinch of salt though as some people just like to have a moan! I'm a big planner though and I do love looking into it all. In fact planning stuff is probably what I spend the majority of my life doing! Glad you've become more adventurous though :)

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    1. TOTALLY agree! Some reviews are just insane. I use TripAdvisor now to double-check my instincts ... and if people are being unreasonable, then I'll just go ahead and book it anyway. So hard to choose though!

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  14. My problem is even after I've booked my hotel/flight/whatever, I keep checking just to see if the price changes. I need to stop doing that because it only drives me nuts!

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    1. Oh my gosh, B. STOP. DOING. THAT. It's torturous!

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  15. This is fantastic. I always say I'm a terrible traveler because I suck at packing in the days, and 'seeing all the sights.' I'm more of a cafe and pub kinda girl. But I do love the planning and hotel finding! It's what I do even when don't have a trip coming up!

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    1. Thanks, Julie! I totally think it's a good thing NOT to pack in the days and see all the sights! It's hard to though, when you only have a limited time in a country/destination and want to do it all :)

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  16. I hate booking accommodation (finding the best deal, the reviews, location)....and flights....G does a lot of our flights now (I never used to trust him with them but I just can't be bothered with the stress)...I have that fear that I would book us to fly to Sydney in Canada rather than Australia (like I saw on the telly once and now that I will make the same silly mistake)....I thought travelling was meant to be relaxing!
    xx
    Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

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  17. I'm actually really surprised by this as I didn't expect you to be the type to get so stressed before a trip! I'm not sure why, but you just get feelings sometimes about people don't you?!
    On a side note, I HATE when banks do absolutely nothing to prevent you having issues when withdrawing abroad. They all say you should contact them before travelling but I'm pretty confident they don't actually DO anything with that information. It's so annoying!

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    1. Ha! i'm so glad that I give off the impression that I'm chilled and laid-back, Kate :) I'm THE WORST. THE. WORST. I stress about everything. I have to actively work at it to curb my controlling tendencies.

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  18. I am a bit like you with the over-preparedness. Always have to pack multiple bottles of sunscreens, after sun lotion, insect repellent, pain killers, cold and flu tablets, etc. Hate being stuck somewhere trying to find a pharmacy!

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  19. I hear you on the bit about finding a time when you're both free - why so difficult!! I always end up carrying forward holiday each year!

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  20. I'm going to totally back you up on the medical kit - it's not anxiety at all, it's just total and utter common sense! (Can I tell I'm exactly the same?!) My husband used to look through my medical bag and laugh at all the stuff he though were non essential like when I took antacids but after we were given a cheese tasting platter in Germany once and ended up with terrible heartburn, he soon swallowed his words!

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  21. Kept nodding my head as I read this! Planning and booking can be such a pain but it's all forgotten once you're there and having a good time.

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  22. Sometimes a good worry helps. I get panicky when stuck on a plane or a train that is delayed and not moving. It's like I can't escape (even though I don't want to, just knowing I can't sets me off). But once we're moving again it's all fine.

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