Monday, August 04, 2008

A note on Travel

I guess the Costa's Coffee shop in Heathrow Airport terminal 4 is about the best place to write this blog entry. It is not about photography, at least not directly, but it is about travel.

I just did a three week trip, and I booked everything online. That includes 3 return flights, between Singapore and London, London and Marrakesh and London and Florence. I booked my hotel in Marrakesh and my workshops in Tuscany by email. I also booked a car for my two weeks in Tuscany over the Internet. It is fantastically convenient, and although it is cheaper without the travel agent, I am not sure that I did get the cheapest deals ever. This is because to do that, it would have taken me much more time for research than would have been worthwhile. I think travel agents must have lost a sizable amount of business to the new travel web sites.

And now we have e-tickets. I checked-in for my flight last night and printed out my boarding pass. When I got to Heathrow airport, it took me no longer than 5 minutes to get my luggage checked in. The security check took longer and was more tedious.

And this is the down side of travel now. We are restricted to one piece of check in luggage and one piece of carry on. To some locations in Europe, the check-in luggage can weigh no more than 5kg, in other places 8kg. For a photographer who carries camera, lenses and laptop, this is a disaster. I was forced, on the way to Marrakesh, to decided whether to check in my cameras or my laptop. I decided to check in my cameras. Fortunately nothing happened to my cameras. But I swear, in Marrakesh, I looked out the window to see the baggage handler throw around luggage and let several bags drop onto the tarmac from a height of 1m. Maybe there is something to be said for only shooting with the Canon Powershot G9!

It is amusing what can happen at security check points. You remove your laptop from your carry on. You take off your belt and your shoes. You cannot carry on liquids and if you have them, you throw them away. I have lost a Leatherman pen knife before for forgetting to put it into the checked in Luggage.

And when you arrive, the immigration officers are becoming more and more abrasive, especially in America. They think we all want to sneak into their countries illegally. I think that there are probably much better ways to sneak into a country than through the airport immigration. Maybe the best way to stop this global exodus, is to help poor countries upgrade themselves. Then people will not be literally dying to leave their homelands.

I wonder if I am growing old and begin to reminisce like an old fogey, but it seems that aeroplanes used to be more reliable and on time. Flights get delayed quite regularly now, and it is best not to plan transits that are too short. Or you may find the connections hard to make.

I love to travel, in fact I think it is vital to keep me fresh in my creative work. But while it has become easier to book the trips, the act of traveling has become more stressful. We need to prepare well for it.

1 comment:

tHe mAd ShoE ShOPper said...

i fly almost twice a month and it's NEVER on time. the trains to the airport are messed up - sometimes leaving earlier than expected. Flights are always an hour delayed or just waiting on the runway. it is becoming such a nightmare of stress and panic. when i finally sat on the bloody plane... i wish i stayed home instead :(