Even in the age where hashtags like #wanderlust, #takemeback and #staycation reign supreme, I can look a person dead in the eye and say, “I hate travelling.” I don’t fear the shrieks of disbelief that follow. Call me a curmudgeon but I think social media has romanticised travel to a nauseating extent.
I don’t think there’s anything idyllic about fretting, planning, packing and lugging heavy baggage around. Not to mention the huge dent it leaves in your bank account.
YET, here I am giving you travel tips.
When my friends get giddy over the idea of a trip, I wait in dread at the thought of it actually materialising. Don’t get me wrong. I love my friends. But I just hate the idea of travelling a lot more.
I did a lot of soul-searching to understand where my deep disdain for travel stems from. I eventually realised that it conjures stressful memories of travelling in my childhood.
How it all began
In middle-class Malayali households, family trip entails a lot of yelling at children, constantly reminding them to pack. We are a family who is genetically ill-equipped to deal with stress. A week before any trip, I used to be at the receiving end of my parents’ foul moods.
My mom also insisted on packing elaborate lunch for the travel, thanks to my dad who couldn’t down a meal without pappadam, achar and the works. This means there’s an extra bag for me to carry.
The worst is undoubtedly eating the elaborate meal in a running train with rivulets of sambar and rasam running into your seat. Even my parents knew that it’s a lot more practical to order from the train pantry, but god forbid we forsook tradition for new-fangled practices.
I am also susceptible to motion sickness, especially while travelling by road. Most of my trip memories are tainted by my violent puking episodes. While it did get better as I grew up, road travel does make me queasy even today.
Then there’s my eternal travel companion – paranoia – which makes every travel experience inordinately worse than it already is. These days, I consciously make it a point to stop myself from looking at the person seated next to me in a plane and thinking, “So, it’s you who will witness me in my dying moments.”
With age, I realised that sometimes, travelling is unavoidable. After my parents shifted base to Kerala, I find myself having to travel down south more often. So these are some pearls of wisdom I gathered for all you travel haters out there. These are some handy travelling tips from someone who hates travelling.
Accept the fact that you have to travel
Nothing good ever comes out of stress. If the trip is unavoidable, it’s best for everyone involved to just accept that you have to travel. Train your mind to think that it’s just a trip, not a life-changing episode. Your life will come back to normal once the trip ends… I hope.
Delegate travel planning
If you suck at planning, get someone to do it. If you have a friend or someone whom you can trust, tell them to plan the trip, from booking the tickets to making the itinerary. Just tell them your preferred dates and them take care of the logistics for you.
And if you are travelling in a group, great. Delegate planning to the person who is good at it. In my case, my friend Sneha or my husband Rahul ends up being the scapegoat. It’s a small price to pay for my glorious presence in their lives.
Sorry, this is not turning out to be quite the lesson in self-reliance you were expecting. I am terrible, I know.
Use handy tools for travelling
If you still want to be more in charge of your travel experience, get yourself some handy tools. Use Google Travel to plan your itinerary for you. Use Google Flights to help you with thorough flight research.
I can’t stress enough on this. The more you have to lug around, the worse your mood gets. Be practical when you pack. Do you really need 14 sets of clothes for a 7-day trip? Make tough calls while seeing which outfit makes the cut. Carry clothes that can be dressed up or dressed down. Same goes for shoes. Finally, inspired by George Orwell’s 5 tips on writing, “if it’s possible to cut an item out, always cut it out.”
Invest in good luggage
Good luggage made a world of difference to me. A janky VIP suitcase, which was once a shade of yellow, was a big reason why I hatred travel as a child. Its insides and outsides equally worn out, the suitcase had clearly overstayed its welcome. Yet my parents refused to part with it, as it were some family heirloom. Apart from embarrassing the one who was carrying it, the suitcase was also cumbersome, refusing to fit anywhere you put it.
On my wedding day, my thoughtful husband gifted me a sleek new suitcase with wheels. Unlike the nightmare suitcase from my past, it is lightweight and inconspicuous (in a good way). Thanks to which, the suitcase is the least of my worries when there’s a trip in the offing.
Statistically, there’s a bigger chance of you dying en route to the airport than dying of a plane crash. Plane crashes are few and far between. However, road accidents are pretty common. But for reasons that are beyond our comprehension, we seem to remember plane crashes more. That’s maybe because they are rare.
I deal with my flight paranoia with a little help from the Hanuman Chalisa, my battle-tested mantra against fear. Calming pranayama can also ease your frayed nerves and your anxiety while travelling.
Sleep is a form of time travel. If you want to numb the ordeal of travelling, try taking a nap. By the time you wake up, it’s time to alight. Just don’t miss your stop. Avoid caffeinated anything since it can make you jumpy and heighten your paranoia.
Learn to enjoy it
Building on my first point, accept it and learn to enjoy it. Carry some snacks, enjoy the view, speak to your co-passengers and make some friends along the way. Who knows, maybe your views may change. Mine didn’t though.