I travel like a goldfish – never learning from past mistakes
“No more late night flights!” I declared to myself, as the plane supposedly taking me from Gran Canaria back to London faced a further delay before taking off.
I’ve said that before.
“No more late night flights” is one of the many travel-related declarations that I swear to myself will guide my future decision-making. Other oft-repeated declarations include “no more cheap hotels” and “I should probably put some sun-block on.”
I love holidays. I love going on vacation – travelling to places new or familiar. I’ve done it enough that you think I’d be getting good at it. But no, I’m not – I’m still making the same mistakes.
This trip to Gran Canaria was my first foray into the shifting sands of international travel in a post-Covid world.
It wasn’t any of the pandemic paperwork that tripped me up, that all seemed fairly straightforward.
Spain is obviously very keen to try and resurrect its tourism industry as quickly as possible. They’ve made it super-easy for vaccinated travellers from the UK.
On the current rules, to get to Spain from the UK, you just need to have the NHS App confirmation of vaccination status, and to have completed the online passenger location form.
Clearly, that’s easier to do when you’re a solo traveller. The more people that you’re travelling with, the more things that you need to try and keep track of.
As I navigated the check-in process at Gatwick for my outbound flight, I felt some sympathy for the families struggling to hold it together as the various forms required had to be produced for each child. Sometimes it pays to be single.
If this is what travel will involve for the foreseeable future – or however long this current phase of the new-normal fever-dream continues for – then, I’m good. I can get tests, I can produce QR codes, I can ensure that my phone is sufficiently charged and ready for action whenever required.
It’s just the actual basics of travel that seem to trip me up.
Packing the right clothes for the destination that you’re going to should be a fairly easy hurdle to clear in terms of Travel 1.01.
Maybe I was drunk when I was packing for Gran Canaria. Maybe it was a stroke. I had one pair of shorts, no summery t-shirts, no hats, and a handful of swim-briefs.
Unpacking excitedly in my hotel room, I tried on the swim-briefs to decide which to wear for my much-anticipated first splash into the hotel pool. None of them fitted.
I embarked on this holiday feeling fairly pleased with the number of times that I’d been to the gym – I was feeling healthy and fairly convinced that I’d shifted a bit of that lockdown weight. But my swimwear was telling a different story. All the sexy swim-briefs with which I’d been planning to turn heads pool-side all had to go in the bin.
I pulled on the pair of shorts – they had a hole in the butt.
Getting your head around the basics of the local language is another fairly low bar that I set myself when I’m travelling. Obviously, in a tourist destination such as Gran Canaria, everyone that you need to interact with seems to speak English and German as well as Spanish.
But I wanted to show off a bit, to demonstrate how worldly I am – I can adapt to my destination, particularly when I’m in Spain. I’ve been to night-school classes for Conversational Spanish. I’ve visited Spain numerous times. I’ve had sex with countless Spanish men. I should be very confident in my ability to exchange a few pleasantries in Spanish – or if not confident, at least proficient.
But, no – I was neither confident nor proficient. I was there for 11 days. Even on my last day on the island, the hotel staff were politely correcting my feeble attempts at basic greetings. I wasn’t just making small errors on pronunciation – I was saying the wrong words. What I was saying made no sense, not even to me.
It was an uncomfortable flight from Gran Canaria back to Gatwick. It was late, everyone on board was tired and miserable. The holiday was over.
It was just before 3 AM that I finally crawled into my bed – my sunburn making it difficult to get comfortable.
“No more late night flights!” I declared to myself as I drifted off to sleep, wishing I was lying by the pool, flirting fluently in Spanish. “No more late night flights.”