It’s been a while. For the blog. For travel. For “normal” life. Going back. It’s a stressful thing to do. Not so much in terms of blogging maybe, my plan here is to sneak in the back door like Nelson Muntz’ dad and carry on as if nothing happened. I just popped out for some cigarettes and milk 20 years ago, or in June, whatever was most recent. The longer we leave something the harder it can become to kickstart the habit. Or just remember the normality of the situation even if it wasn’t a habit.
Some of us can jump straight back in to how life was, and how it should be. For me, social situations such as going to the cinema, a restaurant or the pub have slipped back on like a hand in a dusty glove. For others there will be anxiety. Mask wearing has become their norm. As has social distancing. It has made them feel more comfortable and they aren’t too keen to revert to the old ways for reasons of their own. My personal opinion is live and let live, others wouldn’t agree but that is a tangent irrelevant to a travel post. Something that is though, something that will hit me without a doubt, is travel anxiety.
I used to be one of the worst people when it came to flying. I wouldn’t sleep the night before my flight. I had to be at the airport well in advance of the recommended two hours. When I was there I didn’t, nay, couldn’t eat. I felt sick. I couldn’t wing it, there had to be a plan for every step of the trip to the airport. Just as there has to be a pithy pun in every paragraph I write. I would clamber aboard the plane, savouring terra firma, a man on his way to the gallows, part of the contents of a big tin can that would certainly not stay airborne this time around. I’d fire off a text to my loved ones once ensconced in my seat, just so they knew that I loved them if I was to die in a plane crash on the way home. Even writing that seems to be tempting fate, like saying candy man three times. Over time most of these idiosyncrasies have been ironed out. I still fire that text off, tell the people you love that you love them folks. Life is too short. What got the rest of the anxiety out of my system was routine. Regular trips to the airport that I was fortunate enough to be making. Every few months another flight. Every time I got to security I managed to keep my belt on that little bit longer before putting it in the crate to be scanned.
I haven’t been on a plane for almost a year. If I said the thought of doing so now didn’t fill me with any anxiety then I’d be a massive liar. Well five feet, nine inches of liar at least. Last September I was fortunate enough to steal a weekend in Edinburgh. That flight signalled eleven months since the one previous and I was nervous as I reluctantly rose up the stairs at Luton airport trying to catch one last glimpse of my car in the nearby long stay car park. See you later old buddy, old pal. That trip got me over the anxiety hump and I was almost my old self for the flight home. But there were nerves. I was glad to get that monkey off my back. As time has progressed the monkey has worked its way back into position. Now the world is slowly opening up again and flying abroad is a genuine possibility. I don’t have the funds to take a monkey on holiday with me.
Anxiety is a part of my life. Accepting that and embracing it has been a very important step for me. I have coping strategies and sometimes shut myself off from the world. Selfish perhaps but so be it. What I have also found when faced with certain situations is the need to just say, “fuck it,” and do it. When you realise it isn’t as bad as you made it out to be in your head you feel liberated. Flying is probably the prime example of this in my life and I wish I had done it sooner. As the adverts for a famous, supposedly sperm killing soft drink ask, what’s the worst that could happen? The plane could crash and you’ll die. But if it doesn’t you’ll have more fun than you would have at work probably. So catch the flight.
Aside from the usual issues of currency exchange, getting ripped off by cab drivers, language barriers and wondering whether you toilet paper is flushed or put in a bin (no, really, I’ve had to put poopy paper in a bin before, but I’ll write a post on Kavos another time) there are Covid related issues to think about in foreign countries. Vaccine passports, where they sit in the traffic light system, mask wearing (outside of the bedroom), Covid tests, what happens if you catch Covid, isolation rules, QR codes. The list goes on and like a Hogwarts staircase the goalposts are intent on moving, seemingly on a daily basis.
On a personal level, I have written off international travel in 2021 (he says). Those old fears have reared their head and I need to know I’m not going to be stuck for a lengthy period of time in a far away land. Even if I must say I’d be a great replacement for Tom Hanks in The Terminal 2: Covid Boogaloo. There is certainly a level of frustration. I had got to a point where I could go abroad without having the trip planned to the minutest of details. What would be would be. Now everything, except for me sadly, is up in the air. I know that all it will take is one trip to get me back in to the swing of things. But perhaps that will have to be a domestic based one for the time being. Whether I fly or drive it is time to get travelling again. Especially as those pesky kids have gone back to school now and prices will become more reasonable again. Bah humbug.