My mother reckons cruise ships are the only way to travel. I tried one recently, I wasn’t totally sold. A little claustrophobic. Endless days trapped at sea, waiting for your next three-course meal to be served.
But what’s the alternative?
Flying is awful, especially on long-distance jaunts to the United States or Europe. The dry air that makes your sinuses and eyelids feel like someone’s sprinkled salt on them. The desperate, illogical urge to wrench open the safety door and jump. The kids needing a wee every time a meal is placed on the tray in front of me.
Rail travel is slightly more convivial. Except when you’re in Thailand and the toilets are so scary you resolve not to use them for the whole 12 hour journey, which involves refusing all fluids and risking kidney damage. Or you’re on the Newcastle to Sydney express with passengers shovelling bags of salt & vinegar chips into their gobs like cavemen and loudly using f@#K as a noun, adjective and exclamation in every sentence.
Then there’s car travel … Car travel can be quite fun, admiring the scenery and searching for crochetted mice in craft shops (thwarted yesterday by Husband refusing to retrace our steps to Berrima after I discovered Bowral was a sterile, non-dodgy craft shop sort of place these days). But in a vast brown land such as Oz, car travel can get pretty tiring. We trekked from Melbourne to Canberra earlier in the week – eight hours and eight minutes all up – and it was quite the exhausting marathon.
Then there are the destinations themselves. OK, a spot of foreign shopping is fun. OK, a spot of foreign eating is yum. Sightseeing is a buzz. Cable TV in hotel rooms has its pleasures. Someone else making your bed and doing the dishes … these are all good things.
I once spent five weeks living in a hotel - when I moved to Singapore and was waiting for my working visa - which sounds like heaven in theory, but was pretty depressing in reality. At first, having buffet breakfasts every morning was bliss. But after about a week, the novelty of bacon and eggs wore off, replaced by a nagging survival instinct to avoid death by cholesterol poisoning. Just have the toast, you might suggest. But I am not a person who sees a buffet and only has toast. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. Especially when it comes to getting my money’s worth. I must try everything. Every time. So five weeks in a hotel almost killed me. Then there’s the small matter of the smallness. Being able to stretch your arms from one side of a dim little room to the other gets a bit miserable. Granted, occupying the presidential suite might be a different matter. But I’m never going to get the chance to compare.
The shopping rush palls after a few days too. Especially as my bank balance deflates and I accept the reality that I don’t need any more orange T-shirts, five is enough.
And I’ll never understand people who quite happily eat out every night, even when they’re not on holidays. If you’ve ever made a restaurant-style dish from scratch you’ll realise how evil they can be. A scoop of mashed potato alone might contain your maximum daily allowance of calories, sodium and fat.
Being a gourmand, I use holidays as an excuse to sample stuff I would never scarf at home. In the last few days alone, I’ve eaten two chocolate bars from the mini-bar, mud cake, white bread rolls smothered in aoili and chicken, toast slathered with pate for brekkie, fried noodles, spring rolls … But, after a while, I start hankering for simple food. A piece of grilled steak with a smear of Dijon mustard, some steamed veg on the side. A meal where I know exactly every ingredient it contains and my conscience is clear.
So I’ve decided the only way to travel is by Tardis. If I travelled by Tardis, I could take my home comforts with me and get from A to B in seconds. I could go forwards and backwards in time, as well as sideways. (There would also be the small but significant bonus of having Dr Who in the Tardis with me, preferably Number 10. Mmmmm.)
I think I’d be much fonder of travel if I could take my home comforts with me and get from A to B in seconds.
I am a particular woman. I only drink one sort of juice, grape. It’s often hard to source in foreign climes. I prefer a diet without gluten or sugar. Also difficult to dodge on holidays. I am partial to my own bathroom. As in the one at home, not just one I don’t have to share. I love my bed and my pillow. I have trouble sleeping without them. I’m pretty fond of my kitchen too.
That’s not to say I’m a travel princess. I’ve done my fair share of “adventurous” travel. I’ve stayed in a tatty room with a blocked share toilet, overflowing with excrement. I spent two weeks on The Pilgrim Trail in Spain, sleeping in dormitories with farting Frenchmen and unisex bathrooms. I even spent a night in a tent so frigid that it required beating on the ground the next morning to dislodge the ice so it could be folded into the boot.
I’m just not one of those people who thinks the beauty and excitement of foreign climes outweighs the misery of a crappy night’s sleep.
That’s why I need a Tardis. If I had a Tardis I could stock the fridge with all my favourite foods and drinks. I could take my bed, my pillow and my bathroom with me everywhere. I’d never need to brave a public toilet lacking a lock on the door and containing those toilet paper that resemble squares of baking paper your wee slides off (if, in fact, there is toilet paper at all). And don’t get me started on public toilets in places like rural France. Squat style, for some obscure reason, and despite the locals obviously having extensive experience with them, it never seems to improve their aim.
If I had a Tardis, I could see the world and still sleep in my own bed every night.
Yep, the only way to travel. If I could just get my hands on one. (Not the cookie jar version pictured above, a real one … Don’t tell me they don’t exist!)