I saw Liz's Wanderlust post recently and, although it's been a while coming, I quite fancied having a go at these questions. I love to travel, and I love writing about it too...
1. Which airport would you like to never see again?
I'd read nightmare reviews of Skopje's airport and was slightly dreading flying into and out of there last month, but was pleasantly surprised (to be fair, I think it's had a very recent makeover). So it will have to be Luton airport: unfair really, as it's not a terrible airport (and the security queues are amazingly fast-moving), but it reminds me of stressful Friday afternoon dashes down the M1 to catch a flight to Amsterdam to see The Boy. No need for that soon!
2. What is your travel nightmare?
As the queen of the spreadsheet and laminated itinerary*, my travel nightmare is things not going to plan. I've actually lived this nightmare, in San Francisco two years ago. We had booked a three-day trip to Yosemite, including a pick-up from our hostel plus accomodation, online. On the morning of departure, my brother and I sat and waited in the lobby... and waited.... and waited. A few phone calls from the friendly receptionist, and it transpired that the Yosemite people had no record of our booking and would not, in fact, be picking us up then or any other time. Cue meltdown as Richard and I faced two nights on the streets and (perhaps a worse fate) three more days in San Francisco, which we had had our fill of.
* I don't actually laminate the itinerary, that's a Darjeeling Limited joke that my brother enjoys.
3. Would your rather stay in a fancy hotel and do fewer activities, or stay in a hostel and do more activities?
It really depends on the purpose of my trip and who I'm with, but the honest answer is: both!
In my twenties I loved staying in hostels. Meeting new people, partying all night, getting little sleep in dorms; these were all part of the travel experience. But I tried doing it that way again in South Africa last summer and, my gosh, I realised that there are some things you really do become too old for.
That being said, my ideal trip now would be divided between spending time in a hostel, which I think are generally better for bringing you closer to local life (especially when you're travelling alone), and a few days in a lovely hotel, to enjoy the bliss of solitude and silence!
4. Do you have any pre-travel rituals?
Apart from checking a zillion times that I have my passport and boarding passes or tickets, nope.
5. What is your favourite airline to fly with?
BA. Not only do I rate their service, on my last two longhaul flights with BA I got upgraded on the return leg. My top tip is to join their frequent flyer programme*; I can't see any other reason why a scruffy backpacker would get upgraded twice in a row.
* To do so, book a flight directly with them - which won't be any more expensive than through a third party website - and then select the option to join the BA Executive Club. You can then also use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers to collect Avios, which equals free flights!
6. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
There are so many places on my to-visit list that it's hard to narrow it down. But the next big trip lined up is at Easter, travelling to Verona - to visit the Corte Eremo reading retreat - and Bologna. Hopefully we'll be able to do the trip using Eurostar and trains within Europe.
7. How do you survive long haul flights?
For long haul flights my tolerance for cattle class is poor. If and when I can afford it, I'd always book the premium economy seats, which are not a huge amount more expensive but are SO much more comfortable. Or alternatively, I just fly BA and hope they upgrade me (see above!).
8. What is your favourite stamp in your passport and why?
I regularly mourn the fact that stamps just aren't that easy to get nowadays. As a lot of my travel is within the EU and Schengen zone (and as my passport is only a year old), I don't have many stamps, so it would have to be my stamp from South Africa last summer.
9. What are your top 3 necessary items for travel?
I'm guessing that the obvious of passport, tickets and credit card can be discounted?
1. Earplugs aare n absolute necessity for a decent night's sleep.
2. Kindle. I still prefer 'real' books at other times, but for travelling it's a godsend. I read a lot when I'm on holiday - like, five books a week a lot - so travelling before getting my Kindle was a bit of a nightmare, with heavy bags and lots of abandoning read books along the way while acquiring new ones to keep me stocked with reading material.
3. Clean pants. Sounds obvious, but if I forget anything when I travel it is always my knickers!
10. What's your favourite holiday photograph of all time?
Shocking precisely no-one who knows me, I possess zero holiday photographs of myself, my friends, or my family. I am so camera-phobic that I almost never take pictures of people, because I know how much I hate it. So all my favourite holiday photographs are just of places. The one at the top is one of my favourites of recent years, of the sun setting over Table Mountain last August, as seen from my aunt and uncle's house. And this one, of blossom in Paris, reminds me of my wonderful weekend there with The Boy this April.