If you’re reading this blog, then it’s no secret to you that I love to travel. I love seeing new places, meeting new people. I love researching my trips ahead of time, figuring out what I want to do, where I might want to eat. I even love flying and taking public transportation. For the most part, I’m a pretty mellow and happy traveler. But that doesn’t mean I don’t experience some stress surrounding travel, too. Here’s my list of the travel-related things most likely to cause me to stress out or lose my cool.
1. Figuring out multi-city trip logistics. Single-city trips are easy. But when I started researching a potential multi-city Europe trip, I found myself getting aggravated and frustrated with the process of trying to figure out the best/cheapest way to get from one city to another–and how to book it. The inexpensive air carriers seem to fly out of remote airports, so I would have to figure out the best way to get from city center to the airport and how much that will cost, and then decide if it’s worth it. Oh, and figure out their luggage requirements and extra baggage fees.
As difficult as that is, it’s nothing compared to the train system in Europe, with its smorgasbord of choices that seem intent to confuse and paralyze my feeble mind. We complain about airlines and hotels with their ad hoc fees, but how about this double-dipping practice of making you pay for a ticket and pay for a reservation too in order to take the train? What is up with that? Shouldn’t buying the ticket be considered your reservation?
It’s easy to see why so many people allow travel agents to book their arrangements for them. Who has time to figure all this out?
2. Delays and Cancellations. Who’s with me on this one? I live near a regional airport, so almost none of my flights are ever direct flights. I have to connect at a hub airport to a new flight to my final destination. So if my first flight is delayed too long, I run the risk of missing the connection. Over the years, I have had to run for connecting flights many times, and it is no fun at all–especially when the connecting flight is in another terminal altogether. I’ve learned in the past couple of years that it’s wise to book my flights with a three-hour layover to give myself a good buffer in case of weather-related or mechanical flight delays (although even that’s no guarantee). Cancellations are even worse. You and 200 other passengers now have to be booked onto new flights (more, if several flights have been canceled due to weather). It could take days to get where you’re going. These things stress me out if and when they happen, though my strategy to avoid the stress is to not think about them until they do–since most of the time, my flights go pretty smoothly.
3. Loud People. I don’t mean to come across as a misanthrope, but I do find the hubbub of humanity around me to be trying at times when I travel. I mean, Good God, the noise of it all. Why do public places have to be so loud? My biggest annoyances are shrill, hyperactive or crying children, who shred my last nerve. I also can’t stand people who talk very loudly on cell phones or in an enclosed space, like, say, an airplane. If I’m able to escape to a quiet corner, I do. But when I’m stuck on a plane or bus with such people, I suffer.
4. Lack of adequate food, water, and bathrooms. I’m like a baby, if my three basic needs of eating, drinking, and being able to pee aren’t satisfied on a regular basis, I become a cranky bitch. Naturally, I try to carry snacks and water on me at all times, but sometimes, the supply runs out. Then, look out. Hunger transforms my personality the way anger transformed David Banner into the Incredible Hulk. Trust me, you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.
5. Driving in a strange place – I can do it, but I don’t particularly like it, especially when I’m alone. My GPS helps alleviate some stress (by reassuring me it knows where I’m going), but not all. I always need an acclimation period to get used to traffic levels that are higher than Vermont (which is pretty much everywhere). Once I’m used to it, I’m okay. . .for the most part. Although roundabouts still confuse the hell out of me.
6. Walking anywhere after dark – I’m a solo female traveler, and I’m nightblind. Not a good combo. For one thing, if I get disoriented, I can’t read the street signs. At home, I know the streets. I know which ones are well-lit and which one aren’t. I bring a small flashlight with me to light the sidewalk so I can see where I’m walking. Still, I’ve occasionally almost walked into people I didn’t know were there until I was almost on top of them. Even at home, I do get a little stressed sometimes walking home at night. To avoid the stress of trying to find my way around on darkened city streets when I travel, I tend to take cabs, or I stick very close to my hotel. This also makes sense for any solo female traveler from a safety perspective.
7. Getting Lost – I know a lot of travelers love getting lost! You discover the most interesting things that way. Yeah, well, you can have it. I’m a bit geographically- and directionally-challenged to begin with, not to mention a bit anal-retentive about schedules, so getting lost leads to a lot of confusion, wasted time, and yes, stress. If it starts getting dark while I’m still lost, my stress levels go up exponentially. If I get hungry, too–we’re talking Defcon One level stress.
That’s my list. What stresses you out about travel?