Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one with the cheapest flights—and that made all the difference. Yes, when Robert Frost wrote his now near-anthemic poem, he certainly did not have travel apps and user-reviewed-internet musings to aid him in his journey. So what is it about the act of taking a vacation that is so simultaneously fulfilling and exhausting that we often need a secondary recovery vacation upon our return home? Whether too much freedom, lack of routine, or even just spending so much time with your favorite person that they began to become your least favorite person—we dissect the in’s and out’s of travel for the spots that manage to both irk and reward us most.
#5 (in)Security-It is hard to come down against airport security when they are literally there only to make sure that you arrive at your destination safely…but let me give it a shot: In this day and age, it is safe to say that over-arching airport security sucked all the last bit-o-fun out of air travel. Not too long ago there was still a time when you could arrive at the airport with minutes to spare and leisurely meander towards the general direction of your flight with nary a second-thought given towards what shoes, belt, clothes, digital items you may have on your person-and all that is to say nothing of fluids over 3oz. These days, if you are not planning out your wardrobe and belongings days in advance, specifically for speed and efficiency when it comes to getting through security, then you are part of the problem. Move out of the way and let those of us who do through. Also, the power that female flight attendants now possess via their hidden ability to wink at an undercover security officer on your flight and have you bounced out of the plane quicker than you can say TSA, seems to be wielded like a sword through your luggage. Best advice—don’t provoke the animals!
#4 The All Inclusive- The picture that comes to mind when imagining the care-free lifestyle begat by an all-inclusive resort always involves a lot of frolicking to and from every form of top-notch and Bacchus form of entertainment, all whilst not being burdened by that incredibly heavy wallet in your pocket. Yes, waiter-more caviar, more champagne, and let me buy a round for that entire table. Sadly, more often than not, it is all drinks and buffet food of the variety that you would not wish on your worst enemy. This is not to say that they can’t be a good thing (I love them in theory) they just normally aren’t. A close related topic here would be The Package Tour, which is at least worth a mention considering that they promise the same pop and often fail to deliver for the same reasons: forced stops at souvenir shops where they no-doubt get a kick back always leave you feeling a bit used and empty. Do yourself a favor and strike out on your own.
#3 You, my friend, have a lot of baggage! –I know, I know, you want to bring it all with you. You never know what you will need until you get there: what if there’s a cocktail party, what about a freak snowstorm—I must be prepared. Then there are those who skew the other way, those of us who are so obsessed with efficient packing that we often find ourselves missing that extra thing that could make the trip perfect, or at the very least find ourselves without the room in our bag to bring back the goodies we want. So it’s a trade off: the free-wheeling feeling of checking little to no luggage at all, versus the real life need to have all of the toiletries and accouterment that a good trip necessitates. Alas, in the end one must simply choose what is most important!
#2 A Group Thing- When most people envision their vacations they picture themselves with their best friends by their side and so, naturally, they invite them. Often, in turn, this friend invites a friend, and before you know it: you’re traveling in a group of pseudo-friends and half-acquaintances and find yourself regretting that you ever opened your mouth. Now, even in a group of all close friends-since-birth-types this has all the makings of a disaster waiting to happen. If you are an early bird and they are all late sleepers, or any variation of vice versa this can be a disaster. So, why do we do it at all? Because on the off chance that the group is just right, and you’re having that sunset beer on the rooftop deck of your hillside Sardinian villa, watching the Mediterranean crash upon the shore—you know instantly that you are experiencing one of life’s rare, perfect moments.
#1 Sightseeing The Obligatory-When you mention any great city in the world you are immediately bombarded with advice that normally begins with the statement “you must go to…” This is fine enough, but there is something to be said for the traveler that knows themselves enough to know that it is their trip and they should do what they want—not what they are supposed to want. For example, Rome: Vatican, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Egypt, the pyramids; London, Big Ben; NYC-Times Square. Quite often too, these thing you “have” to see, are things you would likely not go to see if they were in your own town. Culture’s fine and dandy when its culture time. Sometimes, you need to listen to your inner voice. Years ago in Paris some friends and I trekked for miles to get to the Louvre. I did not really want to go, but I also did not want to be the one to miss it. So we went. Upon arrival we were bombarded with the worlds longest line that wrapped about 3 times throughout the inner square and out into the street. At this point, I said to my compatriots, have a good day; I will wait for you to finish at the café across the street. I had the time of my life meeting locals and “manger et de boire” until my heart was content. My friends arrived hours later, haggard and defeated, as the museum closed just minutes before they could reach the front entrance; a whole day wasted waiting to wait, while the true culture was waiting across the street. C’est la vie!
A Necessary Bonus: The Constant photographer- If you spend more time documenting the actual act of travel (and of course immediately uploading to all social media) than enjoying the travel, just stay home and Photoshop!
This months Love/Hate column is brought to you by the collective ministries of tourism of the places you’ve not yet travelled to. Up next month: Love/Hate: Halloween.