As a freelance travel writer, I enjoy more than my fair share of travelling. I regularly get to justify trips away as “research”, and sometimes I’m even lucky enough to receive extra funds to head abroad. I know, the dream. While there’s plenty of trials and tribulations that come with freelance life, being able to travel when, where and as much as I want is a pretty amazing bonus.
But before you rush off, frantically type up a resignation letter and slam it down on your bosses desk à la Jerry Maguire, there’s a few home truths about travelling that I wanted to share. Despite what the flawless feeds of travel bloggers may tell you, there’s a not so glamorous side to jetsetting. These are the universal struggles all travellers will relate to…
Lost luggage (or even the idea of it…)
When I finally find my case…
Every time I anxiously wait at the luggage conveyor belt for more than five minutes, I’m convinced – my bag is gone, and along with it my makeup, that really expensive perfume I never got to wear and my brand new laptop. Brilliant. As I see other happy flyers collect their bags and head off into the distance (cue: sunset), I curse their smug posteriors – and suspiciously eye up their suitcases should they have taken mine by mistake or otherwise. Clearly airports bring out the worst in me. I eventually spot my bag and scarper away from the dreaded luggage collection point as quickly as possible. Lost luggage and the awkward dance of trying to find your bag without losing the will to live: not glamorous at all.
Truth be told, airports have never actually lost my cabin baggage. Now I’ve put the dreaded words down on paper though, it’s only a matter of time.
People on planes standing up before we’ve even touched the ground
Granted more of an annoyance than a typical ‘struggle’, but why do so many people feel the need to jump out of their seats before the plane lands? Maybe they put something in the water, but it seems whenever I get to an airport everyone suddenly becomes very rushed, and I’m not a fan.
The dreaded middle seat
You don’t have easy access to the bathroom and you can’t see the nice window views. You’re also likely to be stuck beside really chatty folks, who may or may not have brought their own smelly snacks from home for the ride. Whichever way you turn it, the middle seat on planes is not fun.
Bringing back more yen than you know what to do with, but not being bothered enough to exchange it
A recent study by Visa Europe revealed British travellers have an average of £55 worth of foreign currency gathering dust in their desk drawers. Glad I’m not the only one.
Passport picture woes
My thought process when getting a new passport photo taken is as follows: ‘Okay, you’re going to have to live with this shot for the next 10 years at least. Keep in mind many people will see it in that time, so make sure it’s nice and most of all, normal.’ ‘Wait, am I allowed to smile in these yet?’ ‘I’ll go for a half smile just in case.’
It’s taken and I look deranged. My light blonde hair looks blue under the fluorescent lights. There is no such thing as a good passport photo.
Not understanding what anyone is saying but you’ve already asked too many times for them to repeat it, so just smiling and nodding instead
Trying to converse through the haze of thick Scottish accents is no easy feat.
… but after a few drinks, language barriers are a thing of the past
Or are they?
Extreme jetlag is a downer on any trip, especially if you’re only in a new destination for a day or so. Luckily, we wrote this post about how to beat (or at least manage) the jetlag beast.
Packing (and unpacking)
Necessity-only packing isn’t my style. I want plenty of outfit options while I’m away, but I definitely don’t want to schlep a heavy bag around. Therein lies the problem. Unpacking is its own kind of demon. I usually end up leaving all my clothes in my unopened suitcase until I desperately want to wear something that is, by that time, very crumpled. Joy!
Getting very confused when faced with different currencies
On a recent trip, after standing around for ten minutes trying to figure out the value of my purchase in pounds. I confidently strode to the till counter and paid £6 for a water bottle. My bank charges later revealed the fail.
For those poor souls heading to China this year and looking to nip around the city on the train, we salute you.
When you only have two weeks’ annual leave and you want to explore all of South East Asia and New Zealand
Something’s not adding up here.
Wanting to do it all over again
No matter how tough my trip was, how lost I got, or how awful the plane etiquette. I always leave wanting more. Bring on the next adventure.