A lot of people will spout off the tired old cliché that the destination isn't as important as the journey itself. Well, what if you're on your way to the Playboy Mansion then? Anywayyy, has everyone jam-packed their suitcase? Is your mother-in-law in her carry-case? Is the suntan lotion jammed into the sunglasses case? Did you get to print out the train tickets after realising that the printer needed a new ink cartridge right at the last minute? Good, then we're all set to leave our daily troubles and strife behind and head off to confront the usual bullcrap that goes along with going on holiday (or vacation, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods).
(Things were getting intense at Grand Central Station this morning)
Every summer, millions of people rush towards airport gates, motorway tollbooths and trains with broken-down airconditioning systems to escape everyday life, in search of a beach, a bit of ocean, a house in the countryside or just to bungee jump over Death Valley. Anything that will allow them to forget life back home. Here at FML, we get to watch each step of your vacation, from departure to the eventual sad return home, through the stories you send in along the way. This summer, instead of the usual Best of the Worst (I know, some of you have been requesting it, it'll be back, don't worry), I'm going to do a sort of compilation of what's great (and not so great) about vacationing, step by step. I'll start with the first part: Getting there, wherever "there" may be.
Today, I was stuck at the airport overnight waiting for my flight for about 5 hours. I then went and looked at the departures board. It said that my flight had already departed. FML
Some people manage to get things right. Many strive for excellence, and can organise everything from A to Z, nothing goes wrong, no trouble with cancellations, packing, kids throwing up in cars, or pets chewing their way through their carry-cases on the train at all. Nothing is outside the allotted guidelines, it's all clean and efficient and their holidays run with military efficiency. These people are called psychopaths. Or they travel alone. For the rest of us, taking a vacation is somewhat less relaxing than taking a ride on a high-speed rollercoaster in a fairground run by alcoholic lunatics. We'd like to believe that it's going to be fantastic, that we're going to chill out to the max, that when we eventually return home we'll be full of beans and our life force will be all Omega and Alpha Nebula or whatever the New Age hippies say, because you've been down in the dumps for a while now, maaaan. The thing is, though, a vacation is just a way of moving your personal issues from a point A to a point B. It's still you, but in another location. Just because you're in a straw hat on a beach somewhere doesn't make you less you. You've still got that voice in your head telling you to shove those cashew nuts up your nose for no reason, or you still think you're hearing God telling you to kill Fred Flintstone. But that's a subject for another article.
Today, while traveling with my cat, I had a mini-freakout when I realized that I left his favorite toy in the hotel room. I'm a 30-year-old man. FML
There's the usual public transportation you can rely on to get you where you want to go, but a lot of people prefer to travel by car. "It's cheaper" they say. It probably is, especially if you pile 8 people into a clapped-out '78 Ford Escort, when comparing it to say, a ticket on Concorde, which doesn't even exist anymore. But... cars are expensive to buy for a start. Gasoline is expensive, especially since the 4-year-old who decides on gas prices has pushed the setting up to "High". And travelling by car is a pain in the hole anyway; you have to stop every 5 miles because your annoying little brother wants to pee on something for the 15th time, your mother wants some more Sudoku magazines and dad wants another beer because it helps him concentrate when he's behind the wheel.
Today, I traveled by plane for the first time. Once in the air, I was absolutely terrorized by the whole experience. Luckily, they had free booze on board, so I necked some to steady my nerves. Unfortunately, the vodka mixed with air turbulence made me spurt some vomit into my lap. FML
When they reach a certain age, kids start going on vacation without their parents, and thank Xenu for that. It's good news for the teenagers as much as their parents. The kids go off camping with their friends, smoke weak joints and go off to sleep and blow chunks into their sleeping bags at 9 pm, while their parents go off and rent houses in the countryside with their college buddies to smoke super-strong doobies and pass out, due to the fact that weed is way more potent than in 1972, while listening to Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. However, for teenagers to get to that level of trust is quite a struggle, due to the fact that most parents don't trust them enough to let them go off with their friends without supervision (especially with the weird ginger kid with the ninja stars collection). To get to that stage, kids will be required to show to their parents that they're mature enough to handle it. So you, yes, you, kid A or whatever your name is, learn to cook something, to darn a sock, make a fire out of bits of wood, drive a combine-harvester and grow a beard. Then maybe people will trust you to go out on your own, and maybe let you become Amish as well.
Today, I was standing at airport security. One of the bag inspectors asked me to remove my travel pouch, pointing to the lump under my shirt. I didn't know how to tell him that it was just one of my fat rolls. FML
Before you leave, don't forget to secure your house and get it protected by Navy SEALS, just so you can give your paranoia one last spin before relaxing on your cheap holiday in other people's misery (thanks Johnny). Oh, and get your pets looked after. Or better still, take them with you. Cats love the beach and are great at surfing. Dogs like to bark at waves and pee on sunbathers. Some people just dump their pets by the side of the road before leaving for a vacation. There's a name for people like this, but I'm too much of a gentleman to write it down (hint: they're total shitcannons). Just thinking about it makes me tense. I'm going to have some orange juice to calm down.
(A driver finally realises that using his horn in a traffic jam has no effect)
Watch out for people who are in a hurry, whether in airports, train stations, or in traffic. People are in a rush to get to their holiday destination, but won't be in the "hey, I'm relaxed, it's cool maaaan" mood until they've actually reached the designated area where the brochure said that they would feel relaxed. Before that precise moment, it's a free-for-all. Don't be surprised to find someone sitting in your window seat in the plane. Don't let these people get away with it. There's a certain type of person that specialises in doing this sort of thing, who'll try and brush it off with, "Oh, am I in the wrong seat? Do you mind exchanging? It would be a shame to disturb everyone else, my seat is the aisle seat over there." Say no firmly without breaking eye-contact. They know very well they're in the wrong seat, they've done this before. They've come prepared. These people are pros. This is how wars start. It's because of people like this that measles are back. Well, them and the idiots who won't vaccinate their kids because they think they know science better than people who actually know science. Don't back down. Claim your seat. Fight the power.
Travelling should ultimately be a moment of quiet reflection. You should be able to demand it, but also spread it. Like a nice new fun STD. Your vacation should start right the moment you leave your workplace, your college, your high-school; it's the last day you have to stare at the people you share the drudgery of everyday life. Put on a Hawaiian shirt, some shades and smile. Even if it's night time and it's pouring with rain. Of course, the thought of having to sit in a crowded train, wait in line at a freeway toll or gasp for air in a fart-infested airplane in few hours time is sort of daunting. But it's all for a good cause. At the end of the journey there will be... what? You can never really know. The trouble with leaving town for a vacation is that we hope that at the other end the grass will be greener (chill out mum, I mean metaphorical grass, put your bong away), but wherever you go, you still take your own emotional baggage with you. That's why when I go on holiday, I always take a lot of LSD with me.
Today, I went to the airport to start the amazing 3 week vacation in Costa Rica that I've been saving for and planning for more than a year. They wouldn't let me on the plane because my passport expires in less than 6 months. FML
Next time, I'll be looking at whether it's really a good idea to go anywhere on holiday at all, and that maybe we should all stay at home with loads of cans of soup and batteries for the television's remote control. And Beach Boys albums. And for those of you who can't go on holiday due to lack of funds or other reasons, try to avoid being bitter when your annoying friends post pictures of their feet on the beach or next to swimming pools on Facebook or wherever. I say that, but I genuinely posted this as a comment once:
(Anger is never the correct response, but it helps)
Remember, the journey is not as important as the destination. Having a comfy window seat is just as important.