My name's Oneika and I like to travel. I like to travel so much that I write a travel blog named "Oneika the Traveller". I like to travel so much that whenever I'm on a trip, I'm already subconsciously planning another. I like to travel so much that there's a strong likelihood I will name one of my future children Paris or London or some other touristy city that I have known and loved at some point in my charmed life (and an even stronger likelihood my uber conservative husband won't let it happen).
But obviously there are things about travelling that I don't enjoy. Before you bite my head off, I get that complaining about my travels comes off as being ungrateful, blissfully unaware of my privilege, and super #firstworldproblem-ish. But, live a little, will ya? I love travel (I think that the mere existence of my blog hints at this fact), but this is a just a little tongue-in-cheek post about the things I'm not quite as fond of. That cool with you? Awesome. Anyway, without further ado, the 5 things I hate about traveling (warning: I have a penchant for hyperbole):
1. Long plane rides
I'm beginning to think there are only three groups of people who like flying long haul: weirdos, people who consistently fly business or first, and faithful adherents to the "Mile High" Club (I'm not judging you, but eww). But being your average, broke, prudish traveler, I just can't get down with spending 15 hours on an aircraft to get from Hong Kong to NYC, because spending an inordinate amount of time on a plane is super boring and all around awful for me. While I love you, Cathay Pacific, with your bomb entertainment system (on demand for the win!) and limitless snacks, there are only so many rom-coms starring Keira Knightley that I can watch (and cup noodles I can eat) until the indignity of being crammed into a seat made for a 10-year old causes my right eye to twitch and my blood to boil. Add to this a talkative seatmate whose breath smells like the inside of a sweaty tennis shoe and ohmygod Houston we have a problem.
2. American customs and immigration
Much as I love traveling in the US of A, the horrors of U.S. Customs and Border Security are unparalleled in my book and more perplexing than the superstructure that is Donald Trump's hair (toupee?). I feel as though there must be an unwritten rule that decrees that agents are supposed to be sour, supremely suspicious, and slow moving-- especially at New York's JFK airport. Because, even if you're lucky enough to not have your crotch sniffed by canine patrol or hustled into a back room for "secondary security screening", you can still expect a loooooong wait in line followed by a round grilling by the customs officer when you finally get to the counter-- especially if you don't have the "right" passport (or are in possession of a visitors' visa like an ESTA). Because nothing says "Welcome to America" like a hand-wringing 45-min wait with other "aliens" and a thorough interrogation of why you came to visit.
3. The cost of (decent) accommodation
Oh, how I long for the days when I was young and foolish and didn't mind sleeping in a ditch or a hovel as long as it was cheap or free! I've slept (uncomfortably) on the rooftop of a hostel in Marrakesh for $2 USD, in a mosquito-infested hostel dorm in Mexico City made all the more unbearable by the stinky feet of the four Aussie boys sharing the room, and at a hostel in Rome whose communal bathroom was so filthy I didn't shower for two days (true story).
I've also literally slept in a ditch in Spain-- alas, me and my travel companions missed the last train to Seville for the evening and the next one didn't leave until 6 a.m. the following morn. You can probably guess the rest: the train station wouldn't take mercy on our pitiful souls and wouldn't let us take refuge there until daybreak, and we were too poor/frugal to cough up money for a hostel. So we slept in a park, in a semi-secluded, ditch-like area, taking turns to stand guard while the others caught up on their zzz. Not ideal, but frankly I was not bothered because... youth.
How things have changed! Nowadays, I live and die by the reviews on TripAdvisor, and hotels are my accommodation of choice. Call it age, call me "bougie"... I am a fan of private rooms, proper beds, spotless bathrooms, and sheets with a high thread count. Which brings me to my gripe: why are hotels so darn expensive? I recently went to Austin, Texas for a conference and couldn't find a hotel within walking distance of the conference venue for under $175 USD a night (bandaid solution: AirBnb. I rented a room in a private residence for $80 a night-- still expensive for staying in someone's house, though!) In Panama City this past summer, a decent 3-star was $100 USD a night, and you can forget about finding a nice place for cheap in Western Europe, honey! The nightly rates will make your eyes bleed. Jesus take the wheel... and be a voucher from Hotels.com. For real.
4. Getting racially profiled
I love traveling while black (TWB)-- mostly because in 99% of all cases it's all love and absolutely great for my already healthy self esteem. I've been called Michelle Obama in Thailand and Cambodia, told I have a nice bum in the Philippines, and asked for my autograph in Poland (actually, lies-- the very Caucasian tour group really only asked to have their picture snapped with me, but details schmetails). I've also been told my skin is beautiful in halting English more times than I can count. So yes, black people, you should totally travel to places that don't often see people like us, it can be great!
But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the single most annoying aspect of TWB, which is getting racially profiled. A few examples: in the airports of Macau, Hong Kong, and Moscow I have been asked to show my documents, while gaggles of friends and strangers (all of a lighter hue, if ya know what I mean) waltzed on by with nary a second glance. In Monterrey, Mexico, my Indian-Canadian friend and I were brutally refused entry into a club-- no reason given, but when the rest of our party (all Caucasian) were able to get past the door without incident, what the heck were we supposed to think? Same story, different place: at the airport in Quito, I was interrogated by an official who tried to entrap me in a game of 21 questions about my movements within Ecuador. The kicker? I was leaving the country! So his interrogation was wholly unnecessary. Even worse? I was so incensed by what happened that I concealed myself and watched him like a hawk as I waited in line to get a departure stamp... and for 10 minutes, I saw him wave everrrrybody after me through. No hassle. No questioning. No suspicion. So I'm certain that I was profiled. Ugh. Can y'all small-minded people just let a sista LIVE??
Adore trips, despise packing for trips. I'm know I'm not alone on this one. It's not the physical trundling up of my belongings that's the issue-- rather it's the hemming and hawing that goes along with having to decide which sixty-fourth of my ridiculously expansive wardrobe will make the cut. Worse still is trying to predict the weather in my destination: I'm never sure if I should bring that extra fleece or that super-unattractive-but functional rain jacket. Packing is a real chore: unpleasant as taking your bare hands to remove soggy food particles from the drain in the kitchen sink *dry heaves*, annoying as rain on your wedding day, boring as staying in on a Friday night to read Dickens or Dostoyevsky.
I also like to be efficient with my packing, so what ticks me off the most is when I convince myself to bring that cumbersome "must- have" item.. but then don't end up using it the whole trip (hellooooo stilettos and arsenal of makeup I never even wear at home!) I feel like us women have a tendency to overpack (3 outfit changes a day! fifty-eleven bras! That extra pair of Spanx!) so naturally I'm compelled to fight nature and go in the opposite direction, which means I often find myself washing my underwear in the hotel sink three days before the end of the trip. #womp
Travelling is a joy, but as with everything in life there are some things that I don't love about it. What are some of your dislikes?