The Cranky Traveller

Ten things I hate about travel

Words: Lee Tulloch

I was in Dubai on a one-night stopover a few years ago. The hotel asked for an imprint of my credit or debit card, which is perfectly normal. When I arrived in Madrid 24 hours later and tried to extract cash from an ATM, I found I didn’t have enough funds.

The hotel extracted $900 from my card and then refunded me in its own sweet time, which was about ten days. I’d loaded it with $1000 so I had to do a bit of mad scrambling to find an alternate way of financing my trip.

These days, I hand over a credit rather than debit card but I still absolutely detest this practice. I don’t think it’s hospitable of a hotel to assume you’re a lowlife the moment you check in. There may be a few people who scarper without paying their bill, but the majority don’t. Some hotels hold the funds in escrow and reverse them upon check out. But still I don’t like it. Call me cranky, but it’s one of the things I most hate about travel.

Then there are the Luggage Desperados. You’re all in the same boat, waiting at the carousel for your luggage to get off the flight. You stand back a few feet so that everyone can see their bags and have room to pull them off. And then that space starts filling in with people who seem to feel that if they don’t stand right on top of the carousel and grab their bag the minute it reaches them they lose. It’s not a competition. But these insufferably rude people think it is.

I quite like a chatty pilot who fills you in the flight details as you’re preparing for take off. But there’s such a thing as too much, information, guys and gals. I don’t need to know that we can expect some patches of turbulence during the flight. I’ll spend the next few hours worrying about when they might be. In my experience, it often doesn’t come to pass or the pilots manage to go around it. I’ve had white knuckles for nothing. And, please, don’t put the seat belt sign on and leave it on for hours over smooth skies.

I hate hotels that make up the beds with doonas and no sheets. This happens frequently in tropical countries, oddly enough. The air conditioning is so frigid you need Arctic-strength bedding. But I always turn the AC down or open a window if I can. So I’m hot under the doona and cool when I fling it off. Is a sheet such a big ask?

Heaven help us all when mobile connectivity is available on all airlines for all flights.

I hate paying for Wifi. I don’t care if it’s there so a hotel can offer it as a perk on their loyalty program. It’s not a perk, it’s as necessary as hot running water. Some Australian hotels are the worst. If maintaining the network does cost the hotel something per room, then hide it in the room charge.

On the subject of hotel hates, when will big corporate hotels realise that women also travel for business and need to do their makeup in the mornings in lighting that’s a tad more flattering than Fluoro Shopping Mall.  Also, a makeup mirror would be nice.

And could the maids or maintenance check that the alarm isn’t set, that there’s a working globe in the reading lamp and there are fresh batteries in the TV remote?

I hate business people who continue loudly talking business into their mobiles after we’ve all boarded and are waiting for take off. We know you’re important. Heaven help us all when mobile connectivity is available on all airlines for all flights.

I love children and I’m entirely sympathetic to parents with colicky babies or wound-up toddlers on flights. But don’t get mad when I turn around and firmly discipline your child for kicking the back of my seat constantly for nine hours while you sit there with your headphones on, saying nothing.

Number 10? Taxi drivers who rely on GPS systems rather their brains. Last week, trying to reach the Queen Mary 2, which was docked in Port Melbourne, we could see it looming hugely in the distance, but the driver’s GPS diverted us to a pier a couple of kilometres short. All the yelling and pointing in the world could not convince him the GPS was wrong.

Let’s not talk about the Reclining Seat Vigilantes…

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