Getting There Isn’t Half the Fun It Used to Be

I love to travel. But it occurred to me on my latest trip that it all used to be much simpler.

Here’s what I needed when I was in my twenties: sneakers, heels, slip dress, sweater, jeans, birth control, a couple of t-shirts. Hotel toiletries took care of the rest.

Here’s what I need now:

  • Prescription meds
  • Heartburn/diarrhea/constipation prevention
  • Allergy pills, melatonin for jet lag, vitamin supplements
  • Wet wipes
  • Airborne
  • Biofreeze for aches and pains + acetaminophen day and PM
  • Gold Bond powder and blister pads for my shoes
  • Cleanser, day and nighttime moisturizer, sunblock, eye cream
  • Wood handled Q-tips (hate those flimsy paper cotton swabs)
  • Color safe shampoo and conditioner
  • Sleep mask
  • Straightening iron
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses

Luckily, clothes are less of an issue. As a native New Yorker I dress like a Sicilian widow. Hence, my travel wardrobe consists of black cargo pants, black jeans, black pullover, black cardigan, black boots. Plus two gray tee shirts for a splash of color.

All packed? Now, off to the airport. Allow two hours minimum to navigate airport security (thank goodness for TSA pre-check so I don’t have to unlace my hiking boots) and wait in line to board the “aircraft” (doesn’t that sound unsettlingly homemade?)

Hold on… I know my butt has gotten a bit larger over the years but the seats have definitely shrunk as well! These days, First Class is what Economy used to be and Economy is pretty much “grit your teeth until you land”.

Anyway, we settled into our pods for the overnight flight to Europe, looked at the dinner menu and waited for takeoff. And waited. And waited some more until we were told there was a “mechanical issue.” After an hour we were told to get off the plane because they were “waiting for a part.” Long story short, four hours later instead of flying from Houston to Munich for our connection to Lisbon (and don’t even ask how United figured that going 3 hours further into Europe made any sense)—a connection we would clearly miss—we were re-booked through London. I’m told the Munich flight did eventually take off that night, though everyone had to scramble if they were continuing somewhere else.

We arrived in Lisbon 5 hours later than expected and – surprise – discovered that our luggage had not. Sure enough, it had journeyed to Munich. Luckily, we were all reunited the following day and embarked on a delightful visit to Portugal.

Good thing I’d worn the hiking boots, as I had no idea the country is so mountainous. For any of you who haven’t been there, the cities aren’t easy to stroll around because, as my husband says, “There is no downhill in Portugal”. Nonetheless, the people are warm and friendly, the streets are clean, the tiled buildings are gorgeous and the food is fantastic.

But one other downside of getting older: Used to be, I could sleep anywhere and hotel rooms (and beds) were a luxurious upgrade compared with my cramped apartment. Now, though, no hotel bed is nearly as comfy as my TempurPedic.

After ten days of touring Lisbon, Porto, Belmonte and Coimbra it was time to head home. Once again, we were connecting through Munich and once again I was reminded of how much more pleasant air travel used to be:

We flew Lufthansa for the first leg and had seats A and C; the explanation being that they had taken out the middle seats in the business/first section. Hah. It turns out that B is still there; it’s just covered over with a permanent tray table! So not only do you have the same cramped seats as Economy but now you can’t even use both armrests or stretch over into the middle seat.

Have you ever come home from vacation feeling like you need a vacation?


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