Like most people, I love to travel and even though I do a lot of it, I never tire of the expectation, the excitement and the sheer joy of discovering new destinations and having new experiences. What I could well do without though is the hassle that is increasingly part and parcel of the ‘getting to’ such destinations — particularly where travelling by air is concerned. The long queues in airport terminals; the surly staff at airport security; the poor food; the inflated prices; the inevitable delays to schedules and the drip, drip manner in which airport authorities feed information to disgruntled passengers. It wasn’t always like this and it needn’t be now, particularly if your overseas destination is not too far away. I’m talking of course about travel by sea and/or train — with or without a car. In much the same way that people often grossly under-estimate the true cost of their holiday by forgetting to factor in the cost of all those ‘extras’ when comparing one destination or holiday experience to another, so to is it when it comes to the matter of how long does it take to get from A to B because the journey time should not be measured just in terms of the actual flying time itself but also the additional time it takes to park up and wait for a shuttle bus to take you and your brood from your long term car park which is located a short flight away from the actual airport that you will be flying out of! OK, I’m exaggerating somewhat but you know what I mean. Add to that, the three or more hours that you need to arrive at the airport before your flight actually departs in order to allow yourself enough time to negotiate the long queues for check-in and the even longer (or so it appears) queues at security. This ‘reality’ was recently driven home to me in a very emphatic manner a few weeks ago when I was provided with a complimentary pass for the executive lounge at an airport. I arrived in what I thought was more than adequate time to check-in for the flight and make my way to the lounge where I could while away an hour or two before my flight departed, reading the complimentary newspapers and enjoying some freshly squeezed orange juice and just-baked croissants. Frustratingly, both the check-in and security queues took up so much of my time that I ended up only having 10 minutes to enjoy the aforementioned ‘luxuries’ before my flight was called.
Contrast all that with the alternative scenario where you get to pack all your belongings in the boot of your car and not have to worry about whether or not you’re a couple of ounces over your meagre luggage allowance. Where you can take a couple of extra pairs of shoes with you on holiday because you have to space to accommodate them. Where security is not like Guantanamo Bay or where, if you’re fortunate enough to discover a nice red or white wine (or both) whilst on holiday, you have the potential wherewithal to purchase a box or two, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to bring them back home with you. Similar arguments can also be made in respect of travel by rail and indeed rail travel in general is on the increase in continental Europe where more and more people are seeing it as a more civilised way to travel, particularly if the distances involved are not huge. For example, it has been repeatedly shown that for someone intending on travelling between London and Paris or indeed New York and Washington D.C., the commute times were shorter when the journeys were undertaken by land rather than by air!
In short, take a step back and reconsider all the transport options that you have at your disposal when undertaking your next trip abroad as air may not necessarily represent your best option.