Sightseeing in Sofia on maternity leave

Six things you never thought you’d miss about travel

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we used to take for granted while travelling. How the smallest inconvenience would become such an annoyance. I mean, before coronavirus, we were able to get on a plane and be in a different country within a matter of hours. How did we not appreciate that?

Like many travel enthusiasts I’m sure, I’m currently making promises to myself that when travel restrictions are finally lifted I will never take travelling for granted again. But we’ll see how long that lasts. I think unfortunately it’s easy to have a short memory when it comes to things like that.

So in order to remind my future self to remember this time, I’ve put together a list of things you never thought you’d miss about travel.

Delayed flights

You know the feeling, you’re scanning the departure boards for your flight and you see the dreaded word “delayed”. Cue the huffing and puffing and mumbled complaints under your breath. Rolling your eyes at your travel companions and wondering how on earth you’re going to keep the kids entertained.

Now, imagine if that happened today. Happy days! Flight delayed? No problem! I’d be heading straight to Pret to queue up for another coffee or skipping off to buy an overpriced bag of sweets from WHSmith. 

Maybe I’d pop into one of the designer stores where the shop assistants have to be nice to you and feign politeness, even though they know there’s no way you’d be able to afford one of their handbags.

Oh, and if we could use Mr A’s lounge access! To be honest, an extra hour in an airport lounge would feel like a holiday anyway at this point. Who needs to even get on a plane?

The Rock of Gibraltar
The view of the Rock of Gibraltar from the airport

The middle seat

You receive your ticket and your heart sinks as you see you’ve been allocated seat 31B. You put on your best smile and return to the ticket desk. “I don’t suppose there’s anyway you could change… No? Definitely not? Ok, thank you, thank you.” Then you hurry away, furious that you’re going to be parked between two strangers on a nine hour flight, with neither the convenient option of aisle access or the coveted window seat to soften the blow.

Of all the things you never thought you’d miss about travel, I bet the middle seat wasn’t one of them. But now, if someone offered me one – to pretty much anywhere, let’s be honest – I’d take it in a heartbeat! 

Having zero armrests after both of your neighbours stake their claim with sharp elbows on either side of you. So what?!

The annoyance of having to be inconvenienced both by the window seat occupant when they need the loo, as well as being the annoying one for your aisle companion when it’s your turn to go? Forget it?!

Flying for nine hours with your knees under your chin due to the person in front reclining their seat to the fullest extend possible? WHO CARES?! 

I’m on a plane – going somewhere on holiday! Pass me a bag of celebratory peanuts.

That first taxi ride from airport

Forget being furious about knowing full well that you’re getting ripped off on your first taxi ride from the airport. 

Who cares if the driver didn’t put the meter on? So what if Google Maps shows you they’re taking you the long way around town?

At the point that I’m in another country I could be throwing handfuls of cash out of the window in glee. Just get me to my hotel!

Your accommodation looks nothing like the brochure

It’s happened to us all at one time or another. You turn the key to your AirBnB or insert the card into your hotel room and open the door to….well, disappointment.

The glossy website photo of the room’s poolside view is in reality a window looking out onto a brick wall. The picture of the huge-looking AirBnB apartment was actually taken from the corridor outside, which incidentally is bigger than the studio flat you’re now standing in. Or the bed and breakfast owner seems secretly furious that you actually decided to turn up for the booking you made there (true story from Chile).

But you know what, give me a bed in a shoebox right now and I’d take it. Who cares where we sleep or what our view is if we can get up each morning and dive out into a new place just waiting to be explored?

The town’s most famous restaurant being closed

You’ve dragged your family around town for the best part of an hour, looking for a secret spot that every local has recommended. Only to finally arrive and discover it’s closed on Mondays.

Forget feeling disappointed. Look around, there are a million other places to eat and drink and buy ice cream and stuff yourself with local specialities. In fact, shall we just spend our whole holiday in this square eating?

Borough Market London
Food, glorious food!

Making a fool of yourself in another language

I’ve said a lot of stupid things while trying to make myself understood in another language over the years. I’ve invited myself to stay in a stranger’s house in Burma, I’ve ordered 20 empanadas in Argentina, instead of one and, perhaps most embarrassingly, told a classroom full of people in Costa Rica that I was pregnant (I wasn’t).

They were all embarrassing at the time. But what I didn’t appreciate was the luxury I had to be able to make those mistakes at all. How easy it had been for me to plan trips to those countries and meet and interact with locals. I hope that one day, when our lives return to some kind of normal, I’ll never take those moments for granted again.

So I bet there’s a few things you never thought you’d miss about travel there. I’d love to hear about any more travel annoyances that you actually don’t think you’d mind so much anymore.

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out some of my recommended reads for lockdown or read this post about my predictions for how travel will change after coronavirus.