Tripping

 

Two very old and tatty suitcases, stacked on top of each other. They're brown, grey and stained. The bottom one is completely falling apart.

“If you think adventure is dangerous try routine, it is lethal.”
– Paulo Coelho

It’s been 20 years since I travelled abroad. From a UK perspective, Abergavenny doesn’t count. I’m a fair way through life, and though I haven’t travelled much, I have been far. It was exciting, humiliating, intoxicating, terrifying, expensive and, as I emphatically decided, the very last time I’d get on a plane.

Some snippets of that particular trip can be found here and here. Therein lies evidence I may never be allowed overseas again anyway.

With my passport long since out-of-date, I relaxed in the knowledge I’d never do anything so petrifying as visit another country again.

But time has trotted on. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being scared of everyone and everything. And I also don’t want to be the reason my partner doesn’t get to see the world. Or risk him going off to see it and forget to come back. So I applied to renew my passport. Unfortunately, it was processed at speed and arrived back before I got chance to say ‘must’ve got lost in the post’.

So whilst I wait out the next 10 years until its expiration, I’m visiting the idea of actually using this little burgundy book. Only, I have a couple of itsy bitsy questions…….

  1. How does one go about arranging to travel abroad these days? Because the other day I was feeling brave and Googled ‘flights and hotels’ and was presented with 7984 foreign cities to make a fool of myself in only I didn’t know where most of them were so I picked one I’d heard of and couldn’t work out what all the airport codes meant giving me no clue as to where I’d have to be to get on the plane or where it would spit us out assuming we got there alive and how do I know what I can and can’t take because I know there are really strict rules and how big can your suitcase be anyway and does the price shown mean for the two of us because I said there were two of us or is that each and why did the cost treble when I said I would indeed like to take a bag onto the plane otherwise I’d have nowhere to keep my lucky coins even though I don’t think they’re that lucky as I had them with me when I lost my job the week before Christmas and that didn’t feel very lucky at all.
  2. If you’ve already been frisked at Heathrow airport, is that a once-in-a-lifetime thing? Will I have to stand on a platform again, or was that Security Officer specific degradation?
  3. What should I do if I chose to book at a Travel Agents and find myself overwhelmed by the process? Would a display of violent behaviour be totally inappropriate? Handing over all my hard-earned cash to someone whose sole purpose is to put me on a plane; that’s likely to make me antsy.
  4. Are cabin crew fluent in many languages, and therefore able to translate my snotty, tear-choked gurgle as ‘More gin please’?
  5. Will Europe hate me because I’m from the UK?
  6. Are airport cafe prices like motorway service station prices? Making you wish you’d packed your own sandwiches and how can they justify £27 for a small coffee and a wafer biscuit.
  7. Do airports have cafes?
  8. Is there ANY chance I could get on the wrong plane? Because if someone’s going to do that, it’ll be me.
  9. As someone who takes five types of footwear for four days’ camping, is there an Excess Shoe Allowance one can pay for?
  10. Should I properly actually really do this?

So. Like I said. Just one or two little points I’d be keen to go over first.

Otherwise I’m good to go.

For anyone who enjoys a travel blog and can’t possibly wait for me to get my act together, leave these shores, cause an international incident and then write about it, you may be interested in the following. These journeys, stories and photos have all conspired to inspire me, giving me a gentle nudge towards new adventures of my own;

Peggy lives in Australia, but it seems there isn’t a corner of the world she hasn’t visited. Peggy’s travels with her husband are currently taking them through West Africa, and she is keeping us updated as and when the internet allows. This is Adventure with a capital ‘A’! This recent post caught my eye, showing the colour and beauty of some of the larger properties along their route, but dip in further as they also meet with villagers in more humble dwellings and experience a community spirit that some of our world has sadly lost.

Rachel and her husband have just returned from India. A year of travelling which was a true spiritual and cultural journey, also taking in some of Asia’s other countries. Continuing to live a simpler life on their barge back in the UK, Rachel is putting together a book of their travels. I loved reading about each leg of their journey. All the senses were involved as we learnt not only of the locals, but what they wore, ate, their habits and manners, the sounds, the wildlife. This post includes many of those elements; Christmas last year.

I follow Heide because her photographs are just stunning. Always very evocative and atmospheric. And she puts her talent to good use, bringing us images from her travels. On the Centenary of the end of the First World War, Heide shared this extraordinary piece about a quarry in France where fighting soldiers would take refuge. A poignant tribute and something I’m sure I would never have known about if Heide hadn’t brought this tale to us.

So, if you have itchy feet, I hope this post has offered some inspiration. If not, your pharmacist could probably recommend a good topical lotion. Although a light-hearted jab at my stupid zero-rated courage, there is a serious amount of cold sweat forming here. Receiving comments is not something I take for granted, always delighted that anyone bothers. But although an obvious place for it, I will probably have a meltdown if anyone regales any travel tales of woe. That is what I’m here for. You have your own blogs on which to write about the time you nearly died from tripping up on the steps of those ancient ruins. I totally defend my right to hold the monopoly on travelling mishaps here. I have a whole section on The Lockwood Echo dedicated to it and I will not hand that crown over without a fight. That was a very wordy way of saying;
‘Please don’t say anything which will make me more scared than I already am!’

35 comments

  1. Yes, you should do it, and no, nb will hate you for being British. Now, take a big breath and do things one at a time. There’s nth like travel and getting to know different cultures, food, languages. On the plus side, everting’s close in Europe.You’d be surprised, but actually everyone speaks English everywhere. 🙂

    If you’re so scared, I’d book sth closer first if I were you. And I’d go for a travel agency where everything is arranged. The more confidence you gain, the more you’ll like to do things on your own without anyone telling you when to eat, and what to visit next.

    And no, there’s no way you’ll get on a wrong plane. Everything is written on your boarding pass and airports are pretty easy to navigate. Then, you can always ask. The tickets are scanned before you enter the plane.
    Make sure you check the companies policy on luggage. Everything is stated there.
    I like to travel light. One middle-sized backpack will do.

    Yes, there are airport cafes there too. The bigger the city, I’ve learned, the higher the prices, except Switzerland where we paid 17 Swiss francs for two espressos. Crazy. We just came from the Canary islands, where coffee costs 1.5 euros. How cool is that. Besides, Britain is expensive, which means everything will be cheaper, no matter where you go, esp.if you opt for the south.

    You’ll like travel one day. You actually get hooked. I haven’t left Germany since March and I’m already having abstinence symptoms. One more month and I’m off again.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh thankyou for such a really thoughtful helpful comment! I know once we get going, there’ll be no stopping us. I have done some scary stuff and lived to tell the tale, so I know I’ll be fine. Just need to take baby steps to start with. Many people I know have been on more planes and trips abroad this year than I’ve been on in my life! Age and anxiety have seriously quelled my bravado. Not being in a position to travel for a variety of reasons has just exacerbated it as time’s gone on. I’d say ‘watch this space’, but don’t, you may have a long wait 😉 But we are mulling over a couple of ideas, short break, couple of hours away. Feel like putting it out there and finding the humorous side to my fears will hold me to account. Thankyou so much again for your encouraging comment. Happy travels!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m a pilot, so travel is in my blood, but Bojana has given you really good advice.

    My advice is to also encourage you to go. There are twits everywhere, so you will run into people who don’t like Brits or Lilliputians either. And just generally hate tourists. But that’s humanity, no matter where you go. Don’t let it stop you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re hilarious, you know that?
    My daughter dreamed of being a world traveler so when she was in college, took a month-long course that took her to Prague and Berlin. Loved being there, hated getting there. Much of the hate centered around her layover in Heathrow. Having never been to that airport, I’ve no idea what the problem was. All she would tell me was, “I now know what hell is like.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll forgive you for breaking the ‘no tales of travel woe’ rule because you said I was hilarious. And that gets you a place at my top table ;). I only have two Heathrow experiences. Firstly, as a child, we had to collect my Dad who was flying in from Australia. There were flight delays and the airport was HEAVING. Unfortunately, so was I. The early start, the stress of a packed to the rafters airport, the reasons behind the trip, conspired to make me very ill. I recall being sick in not one, but several restroom sinks as I focused on reaching the one at the end :/. My other time there was to fly to Australia myself. I set off security and had to be frisked. Thankfully the return was uneventful. Wouldn’t have cared if it had been; just so relieved to no longer be flying! Hope your daughter had a fantastic time in Europe and was not put off by her experience in the UK’s largest airport. Thankyou so much for reading and commenting ;).

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Good for you getting out there! I worry that my travel anxiety is robbing my husband of experiencing the world, too! I am so uptight about getting lost, I fully white-knuckle the car armrest anytime we’re driving around somewhere on vacation – and we don’t ever leave the states. I really envy those people who can just hop on a plane to Prague and know that they’re going to have a fabulous time. I might need to take a tranquilizer if I even think about it too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to say something random here, and it may also be construed as borderline aggressive; So what if you DO get lost? Always take a map and hit yourself up with some basic skills, you’ll never get lost. You may go round in circles, but that can be half of the fun. Drive long enough in any direction and you will find people. It’s the feeling out of control that’s the worst, but if you prep the scenarios, you’re in control. As long as I plan ahead and try to second-guess as many eventualities as possible, I can adopt a ‘que sera sera’ outlook. Applying for my passport was a HUGE hurdle. But that’s all I was doing, just applying for a passport. No commitment to anything else. And now I’ve sat still with that for a bit, I’ve thought about where I could go. And by that, I mean COULD go. Where would I feel brave enough, comfortable enough to try. Just looking. Nothing more. No commitment. I don’t have to. I’m just looking, and from the safety of my sofa, researching the heck out of the options. Just looking ;). Baby steps. Take a baby step with me? Just look at somewhere you’ve never been before. Not too far from home, but somewhere different to previous trips. No harm in just looking. And if we have to take a tranquiliser, no shame in that. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi!
    Thanks so much for the lovely mention!
    YES YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY DO THIS
    My son- now 29- has had severe anxiety since his teens, struggling to get on a bus, in a car, or onto a train. But he just got back from New York, and said flying was easy, much easier and less stressful that going from Norwich to London on the train for a day! Heathrow and all airports even the ones in India are expensive. Take sandwiches or accept it as part of the whole thing. You check in and get a boarding pass which will say which gate, if not, because you are early, it will appear a bit later on a screen. Go through security don’t hang about in case there’s a queue. Sometimes getting to the gates can take a while so check the screens regularly to see if it says ‘go to gate,’ and maybe see how far away the gate is. At Security you go through scanners and they pat you down while you stand on a low platform. In my experience they weren’t touchy feely and was woman to woman, some places more thorough than others. Nothing to worry about. Just allow plenty of time to get to the airport. Pack big liquids in check in luggage smaller ones have them all together for checking, there is a size limit as to what can be carried on, it will say on your airline details. Cheaper flights like Ryan Air charge extra to check in luggage so you may consider carry on only but then there’s the shoes…. all airlines have a different allowance, based on weight, assuming you are just taking a suitcase or bag not some unusual way of packaging stuff.
    Your boarding card is checked at the gate and again as you get on the plane. And there’s a screen at the gate with your flight number. And you can ask and check too!
    My husband who does all our booking uses Skyscanner. The airport codes are usually obvious- if you know where it is your going- or you can just google them. Sometimes it gets confusing if you’re going somewhere that has two airports e.g. Bangkok, and you may want to check which one is nearer where you are going or more convenient for you, weighing that against the flight prices. I would choose your destination first, or a few possibles, then look up flights, then book accommodation. Maybe consider Airbnb??? You could get a narrowboat in Amsterdam or a swanky apartment somewhere?
    We met lots of people from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and none of them were mean to us about Brexit!
    YES YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY DO THIS
    YES YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY DO THIS
    Have I said already?
    YES YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY DO THIS

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew you’d kick me up the bum! Yes, I did have the frisking experience at Heathrow. Turned out it was my boots that were the culprit 😉 This was 20 years ago, the frisking wasn’t routine then. But you get patted down going into gigs these days, such a shame we live in that world now. I’ll take a look at Skyscanner, thankyou. I know all the info is out there. I’m a ‘linear’ person, so I just need to go through it all methodically, tick my answers, onto the next task. Surprisingly, I don’t usually sweat the big stuff. But I do sweat the small stuff. I don’t intend talking to anyone, that would be far too scary, so there’ll be no chance for Europeans to blame li’l ol’ British me for Brexit ;). Thankyou so much for your advice and detailed info. I will file it away, colour-coded and cross-referenced in my Be Brave folder ;).

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m getting much better at traveling now that you can do so many things online. But I’ve also done a lot of cruises, which is a fairly safe way to travel if you like things like that. Also, we have a travel agent who’s very reliable and helpful!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The internet really comes into its own for stuff like this doesn’t it. Not only to be able to research and book in a way that would be impossible without it, I never feel afraid to ask what I think are stupid questions. Especially when auto-fill proves I wasn’t the only person asking! I’ve only ever been on barge or river cruises. And ferries to France. Oh, and a 5 day gulet sailing trip in Turkey. But I like the idea of a cruise, never happier than on or in the sea. Something where we could still be our anti-social and insular selves, but got to see some cool places ;). I’m glad your own travel options have opened up for you. Some of the things you’ve blogged about look amazing.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve just read your post about the taxis. It seems sometimes it’s not even basic! It was hilarious though and you all seem to take it in your stride as seasoned travellers. Some of your earlier posts have really made me think ‘I’d like to see that with my own eyes’, so thankyou for being a relaxed and inspiring traveller 😊.

      Like

  7. You have raised some excellent questions! I hate to travel as well. I have to take a flight this weekend and my palms are already sweating. I wish alcohol helped, but it just doesn’t. It’s worth it to land in a new place though! I wish you the best of luck with your travel plans:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thankyou. Yes, trying to view it as a means to an end can help can’t it. Happy travels, I know they say it’s about the journey but have a fabulous time at your destination. Of course, there’s the chance it’s not a trip of fun, in which case I hope it passes quickly and well, and you’ll be glad to see the plane that brings you home 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I choose not to travel (by air) for environmental reasons. Mind you, living in one of the most beautiful places in the UK helps….
    Another reason to have a passport is so you can authorise other people’s passport photos which I can no longer do apparently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry for the late reply! I did read this, but I must’ve got distracted and then forgot. Naughty Lockwood. The environmental aspect plays on my conscience, I’m hoping my general lifestyle and the effort we put into greener travel choices offsets that somewhat. I was lucky that I didn’t need my photo authorised, my haircut not having changed since I was 12 years old helped 😉 Thankyou for dropping in and sorry again for being so late. I do try and reply to every comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Get off your ass and get out there. Wait, was that a bit harsh. Probably. I, too, am not enamored of certain aspects of traveling. (I have a phobia of airplanes, I can’t stand crowds, and I’m initially out-of-sorts in places where I don’t understand the local language.) But I can honestly say that every adventure I’ve had in a foreign country has been immensely satisfying. (I am so in love with southern Spain right now that I could spit; we’re headed back there in a few weeks.) The world is full of wonder. Why starve yourself of the opportunities?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My backside is becoming quite bruised from the kicking it’s getting. But I need it! I’m at the right place in my life to do this now. I think. I don’t sweat the big stuff, but I do sweat the small stuff. I would be very chilled over flight delays, cancellations, double-bookings. But I’m breaking out in a cold sweat wondering whether we’d need to tip taxi drivers. Or could I accidentally use an offensive hand gesture just by ordering cake. So I’m googling all that rather than what will happen if we Brexit whilst overseas and the planes are grounded. Yes, I can hear myself! I need to remind my stress-y head that the little I have travelled, much was of the ‘gosh, that was quite brave’ variety, for an introverted home-bird. And I’ve lived to blog about it. In the words of the late great Doris Day; Qué sera sera. Whatever will be will be an adventure, even if for the wrong reasons. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Good on you, Ms. Echo!!!! I can’t wait to read all about it! And, because I am just like you when it comes to the whole how the hell do you do this travel thing these days, you have inspired me to take my 50 year old ass on some adventures. Joe and I will be in your part of the world next year!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Good for you! We have our eye on a short break to ease us in gently. We’re playing it cool and quiet as we don’t want to jinx it 😉 Plus got a little bit of ‘life’ in the way at the moment. But just making it everyday conversation is helping to take the power of the anxiety away. I’m not committing to anything, but I can take a look at luggage. Still not committing, but I can work out my liquids bag. I keep reminding myself that the first time I flew as an adult, which was only the second time I’d flown ever, I spent my last night in a foreign country ON MY OWN! And lived to tell the tale! That sounds like it’s worthy of a blog post, but it isn’t, it was all part of the plan that had to be. There are so many here who also struggle to travel, for a variety of reasons, but we’re all finding a way and are able to support each other. Go Globetrotters!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I keep thinking how amazing it is going to be when we get there….and we are talking next October, so there is much time to look at luggage etc.! I have actually never travelled outside of North America, and given that I am 50 and my husband is from Ireland, I think that it is time for me to step a bit further. I think a small sojourn to start things off is a perfect idea! I am going to suggest it to Joe!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I am sorry that I have been away from wp for so long, when I know I can always come here and lmao! I will not comment on the frustrations I just had with my trip to italy, because I do not believe they are the norm, and I will be traveling again soon, but I do have to say please do not read my blog for the next week…well except part 4 the big differences between Italy and America. I have no doubt you will travel AND live to tell about it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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