What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?
Tourist destination? Tourist trap? Both speak to me of tatty souvenirs, rip-offs and more foreigners than natives, none of which actually grab me by the whatsits and say ‘Come visit’.
Furthermore, there’s the question of getting there. What you have to realise, you see, is that going anywhere from here (overseas, that is) involves interminable hours locked up with 300+ strangers in a tin can cruising at 30,000+ feet above all you hold dear, and most of the normal resources that make life comfortable. The coffee is foul, the seat in front of you gouges chunks out of your shins, the passenger next to you usually has unendearing personal habits, and if you’re really lucky, you get a pink lamington for breakfast. I kid you not.
If you decide to visit the UK, you have to endure 24 hours of this, with at least one stop somewhere along the way where you’ll be confined to the airport, and unless you’re a shopaholic, bored out of your brain for several more hours. Flying to the west coast of the US is slightly better – only 16 hours to LA – but the problem here is that you cross the International Date Line, which screws your circadian rhythms completely and leaves you thoroughly disoriented for several precious days of your holiday.
One of the most popular destinations for Australians is Bali. It’s reasonably close, and suitably appealing, particularly to the young which I’m obviously not. But unless someone manages to gag our leader sometime soon (see my previous post) it will probably be closed to Australian visitors within the month. Don’t start me.
There are several tips for Australians wishing to travel abroad.
1. Get rich first. This would allow you to fly Business Class (or even First) where you get far more room, and even a beddish thing. It would also mean you could pass the time in the transit lounge shopping til you dropped, or even book genuine stopovers of a night or two to break the journey midway.
2. Leave long enough between trips to ensure the horror loses its edge (like spacing your experiences of childbirth).
3. Investigate the possibility of knocking yourself out with a sleeping pill for the duration.
4. If you’re going to fly Etihad, check that the pink lamingtons are off the menu.
But despite all this, I’ve been O/S several times, and would probably go again to pretty much anywhere if I had the chance. The UK and Ireland are definitely my favourite destinations, though – but I’d rather hire a car and potter than ‘See Britain’ as advertised.
My kids insist that if I ever go again, it has to be to Paris, but you know what they say: See Paris and die, and I’m not ready for that yet.