I haven’t travelled overseas much since I had the children. There’s been one trip to Jamaica, one to Turkey, one to Spain and a couple to France in the last decade. I haven’t been Stateside since a three day trip to Philadelphia and New York in November 1999. How things have changed. Gone are the days of travelling light it seems, now everything is made work for the traveller. Trying not to take on the organisational stress is a piece of work in itself. I am not sure I am managing it entirely well either.
I have dealt with travel disasters in the past, and survived, so the evidence is that these things work out alright in the end, but still… Best not to mention the Turkish rabid cat, the lost passport in the Dominican Republic, the broken accelerator cable in same, the Irish train from West coast to Dublin not to mention the weird hostel for the night before the truckers’ ferry to Wales, the personalised passenger call when still on the loo, the valium, the Witches of Salem and the Fast Moving Door, the whale watching trip where all passengers nearly ended up overboard, the diving in the Med where I had a panic attack in full scuba gear and a mile off the coast, the luggage that went astray from Sardinia, the messed up passport for my daughter and the last minute flight from East Midlands airport, which I note is now snowed in… I could go on, but it would frighten the horses.
At this point all I can do is remember to breathe and the words of Julian of Norwich (a woman) who wrote
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well
If only I could get away with a cat and a hazelnut for my trip. Here’s all the stuff you need to get and do these days if you want to go to America, if you have the nerve:
Insurance (and don’t forget to declare the pre-existing conditions that you don’t ever have treatment for but that they will use as an excuse not to pay out if the worst should happen. I am specifically thinking of the poor man called Nic, who died of cancer, for whom Friends Life wouldn’t pay out on his life insurance to his young family because he had previously had hiccups. Seriously. Also thinking of my neighbour who had to cancel a trip due to a near fatal illness and then had to wait four months for the insurance to ‘decide whether his claim was successful’ or not.)
Travel money in many different forms (credit card, travel money card, cash) because your own bank will charge you through the nose for each overseas transaction
Ringing your bank to tell them you are going abroad and someone hasn’t stolen your card, so that they can charge you the through the nose for every overseas transaction (worth repeating, that)
An ESTA for entry to the United States (don’t know what it looks like because you don’t get one, just a reference number)
An International Driver’s Permit (in my case, one with the valid from date starting in 800 years time)
Your e-ticket (which by the way you still have to print out, thus creating more work for you and less for the airline/travel agent)
Your car rental voucher
Your hotel vouchers
Arranging with your mobile phone provider coverage to go abroad, so that they too can charge you through the nose for wanting to communicate with people whilst overseas… The very nerve.
Plug adapters, because a universal plug would just be, well, too convenient for us all
Addresses running into double figures based on where you need to go on any given day, and at what time, on your itinerary
Your daughters’ email addresses so you don’t have to invoke the punitive call charge (£1.50 a minute) to call home
And don’t ring me either because it’s £1.00 per minute for me to answer the phone…
Have I forgotten anything?
Well have I?!