Is Travelling Really Worth the Effort?

This article is coming to you from 35,000 feet above the Atlantic on a perfectly comfortable flight during what is set to be a 29 hour Christmas Day.

Why do we put up with the effort and discomfort of global travel?

As if the journey wasn’t bad enough, being December 25th the tube and Heathrow Express, not to mention buses were all unavailable.

This journey therefore started four hours before flight time with a cab ride that took over twice its anticipated duration thanks to a traffic jam.

A couple of hours at Heathrow led to a flight that is due to take 7 hours 11 minutes. This will be followed by a joust with the immigration officers (the record so far, is three additional hours waiting to be interrogated sitting with a bunch of Latinos who may or may not have been legal).

By the end of the trip into the city to my cramped but friendly rented apartment, it will have taken around 14 tiring hours door-to-door.

Two years ago, that would have seemed like luxury after seasonal snow left the plane sitting on the JFK runway for seven tedious hours while a gate was found and then unfrozen by three men with nothing more than plastic shovels.

OK, you get some food and drink and the chance to watch a selection of movies on a screen that is too small, with a picture that leaves much to be desired. The headphones are trying my ears too as I test out inflight music. Gotye is the best so far and might just be worth an investment on landing.

Soon, it will probably be back to the iPod and Kindle (perhaps Bruce Springsteen and Anton Bruckner on one and Michael Frayn followed by something American on the other).

The aftermath of transatlantic travel is nothing to write home about either (though I realise that is exactly what I am doing).

Waking at 4 am for the first few days of a trip is going to mean tiredness for days, as will a New Year’s Eve that will feel as if it has gone on until 8 the following morning, which in body time, it will have.

Only at the end of this 12 day jaunt will NY time finally feel real but that is when you want to be on UK time for the return journey and more of the same.

Is this hassle really worth it for a holiday? It doesn’t feel like it when you are still 5 hours 39 minutes from landing and up to 8 from the apartment.

However, shopping in Macy’s tomorrow or visiting MOMA will help to assuage the jetlag and a theatrical programme that averages around a show a day will be fun.

Meeting friends and even seeing accountants to chat about prospective projects also helps. A mixed blessing is eating ridiculous portions and visibly growing fatter but that is part of the pleasure, though the post-holiday abstinence is another matter.

What is the solution to the traveller’s blues? Why can’t they move New York much nearer to London, preferably about half an hour away? That would be a big help. If that is off the agenda, how about teaching the French to speak English and put on entertainments in our language (without changing their culinary creativity).

If this sounds xenophobic, it isn’t intended to be, merely a reflection on the effort and expense that we all undergo for the sake of leisure. Australia would be far worse in travelling terms.

Perhaps other people have a travelling chromosome that is missing from my genes? If so, presumably there will be a weighty stream of responses from seasoned travellers who love the experience and will happily fly to the States for a couple of days of shopping therapy.

Next week, the upside article about New York and its enticements.

p.s. The coup de grace was a 3 hour queue at immigration.

Comments
carnmores's picture

oh you poor sod

carnmores | | Permalink

My heart bleeds for you. HNY

Thanks for sharing your good

EleanorOgle | | Permalink

Thanks for sharing your good experience. Traveling is phenomenal; nothing can be as effective as traveling to reduce the complete stress of life. I am a travel freak and love to explore new places. I personally go on with guided tours organized by Kosher travelers and other companies which give me a chance to know whole information about the destination place. From childhood, I remember my parents talking to each other lovingly about their long travels at their romance period. It creates glimmer in my eye that excited me to travel frequently to the best destinations of the world.

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The world is overrun with blogs and tweets. While they serve a purpose, this column is something slightly different. You will not find out what the author had for breakfast or the colour of the socks he is wearing. You will not be pestered with tedious listings of every film, book, play etc that your correspondent has ever seen or his latest success or otherwise on the golf links.

What readers have come to expect from a writer who has been associated with AccountingWEB almost from its inception are objective but on occasion quite possibly opinionated articles about topics that might be of interest to accountants as people. The intention is to be simultaneously challenging, thought-provoking and entertaining.

Since the writer is a partner in the Human Capital team at BDO LLP these columns will frequently take on issues relating to taxation, business and government policy. For light entertainment, he is also London Editor of British Theatre Guide so there will be plenty of hints and tips about what to see and not to see.

He also regularly writes about technology for London Accountant and almost anything else under the sun for a variety of publications so there are always going to be odd surprises in store. Travel, art, books, theatre, sports and consumer issues are all likely to receive consideration in coming months - but so are taxation issues, thoughts on the latest technology and, inevitably, the activities of the Chancellor and HMRC.