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What I don’t like when traveling?

Traveling is an adventure. Sometimes it all goes smoothly, and sometimes it goes haywire. I often say that the journey itself is the goal, or in other words that it is not just important to show up in the desired destination, but also to enjoy yourself along the way. That’s OK when it is OK, which it isn’t always…

What I don’t like when traveling

Crowds. On the borders, at airports, on different means of transport, around tourist attractions… You’ve been to the Louvre and seen Mona Lisa? Over how many shoulders? You’ve checked-in online and realized at the counter that the line to “drop off baggage” is longer than the one for regular check-in. If you’ve entered the subway train in Tokyo without being pushed around by those guys in white gloves who push people in for the doors to close, you know what I’m writing about.

How do you fight against crowds? Hardly. Any big city, particularly in Asia, is constantly crowded. Even the best organized ones like Singapore or Vienna. It is best to avoid holidays of any kind and travel out of season because there are fewer tourists then.

Waiting. Crowds can result in waiting, although not always. I recently missed a plane and was forced to wait for seven hours at the airport in the middle of the night. Having a pass for the business lounge, I put together two chairs, drank and ate everything that goes with it, but still had to wait for seven hours. I’ve said many times that I like to be at the airport, but only when it is for a reasonable period of time. An hour, two hours… enough time to see everything I’m interested and not interested in. I usually walk before the flight and cover a few kilometers (according to my trusted phone), which makes it easier for me to sit later.

Getting visas. I see it as a fools’ tax. Charging for visas helps consular offices and embassies self-finance. That I understand, but why should, for instance, my passport spend two weeks at the South African embassy in Budapest? That I don’t get unless somebody looks at my photo every day and sees I am still there. Filling out forms, sending photographs, paying… I doubt anyone would ever want to look at my photo, but still. Someone once passed the regulation and the whole matter is now self-perpetuating. Then other countries copy the regulation and it all becomes a vicious circle, to the joy of photographers.

Scammers and small thieves. Tourists are an ideal target wherever they go. There is no big difference between, say, Europe, Asia or Africa. Perhaps the most ordered continent is America, but I’d rather not generalize. I’ve been going to Asia since late 1980s and it’s worse every time. Those nice and kind people have simply been pushed aside and replaced by hustlers who see every white person as an ATM to empty. Something similar to Croats trying to convince Scandinavians that beer is cheap on the island of Hvar, when it is actually more expensive than in Stockholm. Taxi drivers are a waste of words. The worst scammers, be they in Pariz, Velika Gorica or Saigon. Uber rules and it is because of its transparency that it has become so popular wherever it operates.

Boring passengers. That feeling when I finally sit down on a plane, find a good movie and… the person next to me starts the interrogation. Where, when, why, with whom, blah blah blah… The best solution for this is to put on earphones or do what you would do with bears in Alaska – play dead.

Luggage. No matter how many times I’ve told myself I don’t need to take a lot of stuff, I always take too much. Packing takes me about ten minutes, regardless of the time zone or climate I’m going to. I can exercise self-control until the very end, but then right before I close the suitcase I always add another shirt, then another, and inevitably come close to 20 kg.  When I go skiing to the US, even more. I don’t find packing so stressful, it is the unpacking that I find more tiring.  If I’m supposed to change hotels every day or two, I don’t take out all of my stuff and put it in the closet, but some things should be hung. The worst is when I have to wear a suit for a fair or workshop, and after that travel around for a few days. Just a nuisance.

Coming back home and getting back into the groove. It’s not that I don’t like coming back, on the contrary, I love it, but I’m not happy when obligations pile up and I have to do everything in a rush because the next trip is right around the corner.

All of the above are individual problems and not important enough to make me stop traveling. Far from it. I’d rather be waiting at the airport for a flight to an exciting place, than sitting home watching TV or, God forbid, listening to our politicians.

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