Planes & Boats & Trains

… as the song goes – but when we get to travel again without fear of our fellow travellers, will we choose to travel differently? 

I flew so often as a child, I found it easier than catching a bus. Seriously, I’ve always found bus timetables in the UK totally incomprehensible, and have travelled in the wrong direction more than once – including (and most memorably) on the way to my daughter’s wedding when guiding a family group – oops! But against the speed and efficiency of the flight itself has to be put the extended waiting time at the airport, the fact that airlines now cram in more seats providing less room even for the normally sized, leaving you vulnerable to the person in front of you tilting their seat until they are all but lying in your lap. Finally getting up to move & stretch is positively frowned upon. Unless I unexpectedly stumbled upon a vast fortune and could fly business or first class, I don’t see this being my preferred method again.

Some years ago, I travelled by train from the UK to Switzerland. The cons were that it involved multiple changes (4 each way) and we had to manhandle our own luggage throughout. But, apart from one leg being a Swiss commuter train where there wasn’t a seat to be found, the seats were roomier and couldn’t be tilted. Finally, you could generally get up to move & stretch. I scaled down my luggage dramatically to ensure that – even with my rubbish back – I could manage it alone, although of course it helps if you know where you’re going & so have a realistic idea of what you’re going to need. It is certainly an option I’d consider again, although Himself is not quite so keen…

Travel by boat – or ship – was something we did regularly during my childhood. My father’s employers permitted an annual “local leave” with one extended “home leave” every three years. For the latter, we’d travel part of the way from India to the UK by ship. Not on the massive cruise ships you see now, but rather smaller affairs. They were comfortable, and we were always very well taken care of by the wonderful, hard-working & friendly staff; such that we all remember each journey with great fondness. I’d not be keen to travel on the huge cruise ships which prevail now, but a river cruise might have appeal.

But the reality is that for travel in Europe, we’d probably drive. Himself can drive for seemingly hours on end without negative impact on his concentration. I need to take a break after a couple of hours, but that would probably be enough to give him a rest period. The pros are that we’d be in the comfort of our own chosen vehicle and we could carry everything we want (within reason), but specifically including as much camera gear as we like. The big cons are how long it could take – and traffic jams. The fact that Himself and I do not share the same taste in music could be viewed as a con, except that we seem to be able to talk the hind leg off a donkey with each other, never running out of subjects to discuss, and are equally happy to sit together in companionable silence.

A friend recently took her family on a UK break in a motorhome. Not something I’d considered before, and it appealed briefly till Himself reminded me of the UK’s narrow roads…

How do you like to do it – travel that is? And has the pandemic caused you to modify your previous preferences?


© Debra Carey, 2021

19 comments

  1. I can travel on planes, on trains, or in cars without much anxiety. But I’m not keen on ships or buses, although I’ve been on them. As for future vacation plans, I cannot go there in my mind until we both have had both of our vaccinations. The heartbreak of planning a vacay, then not being able to take it, would be too much for me to deal with now.

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  2. Likewise LA. Last summer, we decided to visit my daughter & her family in London. It was permitted at the time, but we’d avoided it before & since due to the risk of underlying health conditions. Since that time, I’ve only left our village for medical appointments and I’ve not seen my mother & other family for a year. I am looking forward to getting out & about again, while accepting that it’ll be a long while before that happens (sigh).

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  3. Ally, I’m not overly keen on buses either for longer journeys. I once did a coach trip to the continent with work clients when there were limited facilities on board. We could provide hot & cold drinks, but there was no – ahem – outlet for liquid on board. It proved an interesting experience, and not one I’d want to repeat.

    I understand what you mean about planning. For that reason, I’m not making any plans about the new grandchild expected this month. We are building up a list of places to visit when we can – but as they’re mostly tank museums, I’m not in a great hurry 😀

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  4. My parents actually came into the city for Christmas. They’ve been bunkering down but they figure they’re old. This might be their last Christmas

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  5. Flying is not my favourite mode of transport, for the reasons you adduce, but sometimes in the past it has been the only way. My father once took us to Italy by train which was fascinating, and I have made several other intercontinental trips by train which is much to be preferrred. I am happy driving abroad but there are some places where parking is next to impossible. (One place we stayed in, in Holland, the car park was a five minute walk away – and public – which did nothing for my confidence in security.) And unless you are driving something like a Winnebago most of Britain’s roads can cope with a motorhome – just think how they get some artics/ 10-tonners into our villages! 🙂

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  6. I haven’t travelled since COVID. I won’t until it gets safer. That must have been stressful when you were struggling to figure out the bus schedule when your daughter was getting married.

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  7. I for one would pay extra to read a post about that bus trip to your daughter’s wedding. 😉

    My previous wife was a travel agent who took me far and wide. My current wife went to some exotic places in her youth (Egypt for one), but now is mostly fond of being closer to home. Thankfully though, the pandemic has ignited in her a desire to get away at least for a bit. What I’m personally jonesing for is a big, fat, juicy road trip — the kind that involves eating breakfasts in a greasy diners, stopping at kitschy tourist traps, seeing open and wide spaces, and ending each day at some upper-level quality hotel with a bar that can craft a decent martini. That’s looking more and more like a 2022 kind of thing, but I’ll settle for an overnight somewhere later this year to soothe the restless beast in me. – Marty

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  8. Alan, I suspect the idea of a motorhome and narrow British roads is more that Himself would find doing that type of driving far too much of a busman’s holiday. I’ve not given up on the idea yet 😉

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  9. Likewise Natalie, I’ve barely left our village. It was stressful Natalie, but more that I’d been over-confident about going the right direction instead of checking it immediately we got on the (wrong) bus. Fortunately, we’d left loads of extra time (Himself to thank for that) and so my daughter didn’t have to wait for me to walk her down the aisle. 🙂

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  10. You Marty have a wicked streak, just like my Dad! 😀 I’d consider telling the tale, but it would be hard for me to avoid getting all gushy about the wedding bit…

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  11. LA, that’s a tricky one. We went through that one as well, but the restrictions here were crystal clear on the subject. My mother spent Christmas with my sister, who’s been her “support bubble” (as they call it in the UK) throughout. A good friend’s mother is in her 90s and in the early stages of dementia, so she was going to get the entire family together despite the limited restrictions in place at the time. When the restrictions were seriously upped at the last minute, she did call off her plans, albeit reluctantly. It’s been a hard ask for so many, that’s for sure.

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  12. But, I’m so with you on that road trip idea Marty. Europe would be good and Himself would get to all those tank museums on his wish list (it’s getting longer!)

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  13. We don’t have home curfews or restrictions of travel (well- my parents state is considered a safe state) and they drove, so we thought it was acceptable risk. Plus it was only us

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  14. We don’t either LA, although they do on mainland Europe. The restrictions here have been of the “stay home” variety, with the government relying on “the good sense of the British people” as they simply don’t have sufficient force to police the restrictions at a local or a border crossing level, which has made it been decidedly hit & miss. Still, with a most efficient vaccine roll-out happening, a significant proportion of the population seem to agree staying home for a few months more is the sensible option.

    The next few weeks will prove challenging for me as my second grandchild is expected, so I’ll have to rely on Himself’s good sense.

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  15. I get seasick so boats are definitely out. In fact, just being on a yacht tied up to dock will make me queazy. I’ve been on a train once but was on the lower deck because I’m disabled and didn’t have anyone with me. I’d like to try that again but on the upper deck with my husband. I’ve been on several planes. I’m not impressed with them. During my childhood, travel was always by car and enjoyable. Until I try a train again, I don’t know if I like the car or the train better.

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  16. GJ, I also suffer from seasickness when I can’t be outside in the fresh air, so am fine on a sailing yacht but not great on a car ferry, and clement weather makes all the difference. We don’t have double decker trains in the UK, but they do on the continent. Although I’ve yet to travel on one – I’ll give the upper deck experience a try when we can again. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

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