Travel is our thing and has been for the last 15+ years. Throughout the years, we have perfected how to travel for short weekend trips, mileage runs, and longer around the world trips to maximize each moment and optimized each deal to lead us to the destination, not the other way around. 2020 was off to a good start; we would achieve MVP 75K with Alaska in record time, obtain Lifetime Platinum Status with Marriott, and get to visit new destinations (Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Fiji, New Zealand, and maybe even Greece and Mauritius) but then COVID hit and we had to cancel our trips and put the backpacks in the closet. By being forced to take a break from traveling like we’ve become used to for the last decade, we’ve to come to realize what we miss about traveling and the things we don’t miss. In this post, we share the 10 things things we don’t miss about traveling!
Shuttles: Travel can be difficult and stressful enough as it is and then you have to deal with shuttles; from when you land without a gate, to the hotel, to the rental car, to another terminal…to the parking lot…sometimes it feels like the shuttle rides take longer than the flight and are worse that boarding a plane a flight. Each time we land in Dallas, we are amazed at how long it takes to get to the rental car center after miles of driving down what feels like a freeway. We are also used to waiting for a hotel shuttle bus while freezing our butts off in -30 after arriving from Barbados only to realize there is no space for us on the shuttle because it stopped at 2 terminals before ours (best to book a hotel within walking distance and avid waiting in some cases!). So no, we do not miss having to shuttle up numerous times on each journey!
Airport Lounges: Airport lounges can be an oasis away from the crowded terminal but some have gotten so busy the last few years; it seems like you always have to wait to enter and fight for a place to sit, often having to occupy spots that haven’t been properly cleaned because if you wait for it to be cleaned, someone will have already grabbed the spot. The worst has been the American Express Centurion Lounge; we were unable to enter the last 3 times we were at SEATAC despite paying the high fee for the American Express Platinum card. Also, in Canada, lounges don’t accept tips and so as Canadians, having to exchange Canadian dollars into Americans dollars to have small enough bills for tipping for each lounge visit is a bit of a pain (we could write a whole paragraph about tipping culture too but won’t).
Flight Delays: We understand how delays happen and are generally more understanding than the general public but sometimes, they cannot be avoided. In some cases, we have had to cut trips short to get back home. There is a reason why we always look at flight on time stats and aircraft routing to get a general idea of the probability of a delay but we often cannot avoid them. Flow control into SEATAC was probably the most common one that caused us stress, especially when we had to catch a flight out of an N gate. With training, we’ve been able to transfer from C to N in about 6 minutes. It’s also heartbreaking to lose a whole day in Hawaii due to a flight cancelation and having to rush to the airport to catch the only flight back and also losing your first class upgrade. Or that time we had to sleep in our car because our flight was cancelled and all the hotels in Bellingham were sold out.
Boarding Airplanes: We sympathize with people in general when it comes to boarding airplanes and the stress of it. So many boarding areas are designed for aircraft with 150 seats, not the 400 seats that they often accommodate. All those people in a space that’s too small paired with oversold flights and smaller seats and less overhead space make boarding airplanes quite stressfull and an unpleasant battle too often. Even with priority boarding, it can be hard to get by the people crowding the gates.
The Middle Seat: Some of us end up flying in middle seats more than others, especially when one of us likes to sit in a window seat. The lack of etiquette and consideration for people in the idle seat is annoying. As people are boarding the airplane, you keep wondering who will sit beside you and more often than not, that person you look at and are like “I hope it’s not that person!! Please, don’t let it be that person!!!!” plops down beside you and begins to invade your physical personal space and psyche. The people who cut their nails and file them and the ones who use a floss stick while talking to you.
People: You meet and encounter some amazing people you remember for the rest of your life when you travel and you also see how terrible people can be too. This is a continuation of #6 “The Middle Seat” in some ways. People are gross; we don’t understand how people can walk barefoot on airplanes and use the bathroom (our flight attendant friend confirmed people still do this during COVID times!). The worst though is seeing how much food people waste in places where poverty is rampant: why do people go grab tons of food from a buffet for their table and leave half of it uneaten? Then there are the disrespectful tourists who are not considerate or kind to the local people and culture.
Rental Cars: It is very hard to not rent a car in some situations but if you’ve seen that Seinfeld episode, rental car companies are a pain to deal with for so many reasons! From having to inspect them for damage in bad weather and poorly lit conditions to not getting what you rent, it is all annoying and adds stress and time. We almost missed a flight disputing a windshield chip, had to wait 3 hours for an automatic car in France (we reserved an automatic but they didn’t have any), and even had a Camaro convertible upgrade forced on us and imagine the irony when this so-called luxury car died as we drove to the inspection booth to exit the parking lot. No, we don’t miss the whole car rental process and having to ask for the compact car we reserved over and over again!
Hotel Check-In: As frequent travelers who stay at the same hotels often, it is disappointing for them to not realize you have stayed there before (2 weeks prior) and go through the whole speech again. And even more annoying when they are selling a suite and refuse to give it to you even if it is one of your benefits as an elite member (some programs are better than others).
Taxis: We would rather walk 10 kms than take a taxi to avoid it. Yes, Uber tends to be better and more pleasant but it is not always an option. With enough research, you can find out enough to not get scammed but we’ve often found the scariest and most unsafe part of the trip to be the taxi rides but we are alive nonetheless to write this post. We recall one particularly scary taxi ride in Bangkok Thailand driving at 140 kms/hour per hour down a freeway with no seatbelts on (not sure where the seatbelts went) as the guy weaved in and out of traffic in a less than well maintained car. Then there is the taxi with the guy in Sri Lanka who had a half drunk bottle of alcohol in the front seat and drove his mini van erratically with again no seatbelts for us…or the guy in Porto who drove so fast we were worried he would hit and kill a pedestrian but at least we all had seatbelts…or the one in Buenos Aires…or the one in Bali. You get the point! The taxi ride is usually the time of the trip we think about sending our last words to friends and family!
Unplanned Things Happen: Despite your best efforts to plan and be prepared for things, things happen. Like sitting on a stool that collapses at a café and you worry you may have bruised a rib on the fall or you get stung by a jellyfish in rough surf, or you get sick. Or that time the King died while you were in Thailand and you didn’t know if you’d be able to leave the country. When you are far away, things feel more scary and dangerous. As fun as it is to travel to get away, unwind, disconnect and relax, you still need to be connected to know what’s going on in the world and having a plan to deal with unexpected things that can arise.
That, in a nutshell convers some of the things we do not miss about travel in general. We have been able to travel throughout our province this summer and not surprisingly, we have encountered some of these issues too! We look forward to sharing some details of our summer trips later in the fall, most likely on a whole new blog. Spoiler: people do all the gross things you see on airplanes with their feet on ferries too (and also clip their nails).
Do you have anything to add to this list? Is there anything you don’t miss about travel?
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