How I travel – panicking the whole way to a new country


This morning I reached London after a 16 hour long journey from Colombo, Sri Lanka – which included two flights and a stop over – and felt like a zombie. As I write this I can tell you all now that ┬áThis flight was very much like all the others – I ate all the food because I was constantly hungry, got very little sleep, and only ever got up to pee. But I survived and I suspect my travel experiences are very much like everyone else’s: varying degrees of horrific and painful with teeny hints of fun.

I have already mentioned the superhuman people who take a packed lunch / breakfast / dinner / snacks with them in perfect containers. They also exude a sense of calm throughout everything, never have screaming and kicking children around them, and manage to sleep the whole way through, if indeed that was what they wanted. If they didn’t want to sleep then they disembark feeling refreshed and raring to go having watched movies through headphones they can hear perfectly out of.

Neither my journey to Colombo nor my journey back home was even remotely like that. I generally stress more than I should or need to, always think about making a sandwich and never do, and have a very hard time stopping myself from getting to the airport hours early. Here are just a few things I think of before travelling:

  • Have I got my passport?
  • I printed out my online check-in details didn’t I?
  • My luggage isn’t going to go over the weight limit but fuck, it’s HEAVY. I hope someone helps me.
  • That child is going to be sitting next to me isn’t it? What did I do to deserve this?!?!?!?!
  • I’m hungry
  • Have I got my passport?????
  • I’m going to be the last one to get off the plane aren’t I? The. Very. Last. One. Behind all the slow people.
  • I should pay for a first class ticket. Wait, they are how much? Not happening.
  • Where is my passport????
  • Why can’t people count? Row 52 IS AFTER 51 not the other way round
  • If I accidentally on purpose shove that woman into her seat so I can walk past, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I’ll probably get a medal from the people behind me. I really want another medal.
  • What if they lose my luggage? That’s what’s happened isn’t it? They’ve lost my luggage. THEY HAVE LOST MY LUGGAGE.
  • The food is going to be disgusting isn’t it? What didn’t I make a sandwich?

Travelling back from Colombo meant navigating a Sri Lanken airport. Ten days earlier I thrived when all I had to do was leave but getting into it was something else. Three security scans, one spot check, and one panicked rummage in my suitcase for the tickets later I was finally able to get to the gate and wait to board the plane. Which was then of course slightly delayed. The five hour layover in Dubai didn’t help matters but at least I was able to eat even more food.


I wish I could be one of those really calm people who can handle really long immigration queues (UK Border Force WTF?!) and mediocre food and loud fellow passengers with calm and dignity. But I am not and I don’t think I will ever be. I dont think empty tupperware containers are in my future!

The thing is, even though my way of travelling isn’t ideal it is how most of us travel and it works. I don’t have to take my own food – the plane serves perfectly edible food and there are restaurants in the airport. I don’t have to be calm and I don’t have to enjoy the process because the journey is shit; it’s the destination that’s exciting.

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