I love a short holiday to a new place. So long as I can get away and do something interesting, I’m never usually too concerned about where I go. I am lucky enough, through various forms of study and employment, to know a vast amount of people scattered around not just Australia, but the world as well. This puts me in the fortunate position of being able to disappear for a weekend at will.
These experiences are fantastic but not all together fool proof. Elements of travel follow me around on local trips in a similar manner as they do on holidays abroad. That’s not to say I go out looking for misadventure and awkward situations, but sometimes issues become more glaringly obvious when you let your guard down.
Earlier this year, I went to Sydney to visit some friends who just had a child. I had worked a long stretch with school groups at some of Victoria’s bush and rivers, so I was keen for a break to prevent developing the urge to inflict pain on teenage high school students. I love working with school groups, but there is only so many times the term ‘YOLO’ can be used as an excuse for, well, everything, before you feel your eye begin to twitch and blood start seeping from your ear.
I wasn’t quite sure what the plan was once I touched down. I had seen the likes of Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge on previous trips so didn’t see the point of rehashing them. Chances are they hadn’t changed. I was happy to take that risk. Maybe if they had painted them bright purple, I may have been inclined to swing by, have an overpriced beer and look on in awe at the bumper to bumper traffic driving over the harbour, as a sea stained opera house sat on the point. I swear the same people were sitting in cars on that road from the last time I was in New South Wales. Traffic doesn’t change no matter which city you are in.
It always intrigues me how the weather can be so vastly different between Victoria and New South Wales. I could board a flight bound for Sydney wearing so many layers of clothes that I look like I had just robbed an op shop, all because Melbourne’s weather changes like a professional sportsman choosing a girl at a nightclub; it can’t make up its mind. Then, an hour later, you land in Sydney and it’s humid. The Southeast Asia kind of humid. This is not a fun humid.
On this particular trip we chose to visit the Blue Mountains. When going to visit environmental landmarks, weather always plays a key role in how beautiful a place is. It can make or break the experience. Generally, you only get one shot at it. On this day, we walked down to the look out, with the hundreds of other tourists, to witness the majesty of nature. Then, as I stared out into the fog, straining to figure out what was up and what was down, I could hear a waterfall, somewhere. That the entire state of New South Wales was enveloped in fog that day, apparently, was just unlucky. Mother nature being a pain in the a**. But this kind of thing happens everywhere. Whoever went the next day probably got an amazing view. Pricks.
I’m not dirty. I just missed out. If I had a dollar for every time someone else had a better view, improved weather or took a better photo, I could afford to go back to these places for a second go. But I don’t, so I can’t.
With my little jaunt to Sydney coming to a close I headed back to the airport. It was here that I was truly thankful that I was not travelling internationally.
At the time, I was sporting a beard that impressed almost all; the kind of beard that inspired males and offended females. I say almost because, although great, it seemed to make me a popular figure at airport security checks. So, as part of my familiar routine I readied myself for the bomb and drug sweep of me and my bag. (It could have just been a coincidence, but now that I am beard free, I could run through a checkpoint like an Olympic sprinter, waving a gun above my head and not get touched.)
Common sense says never use the term ‘bomb’ when at an airport. The rules of stupidity say you should definitely never say it as your bag is being scanned.
At this specific moment, my common sense was replaced with stupidity.
As an outdoor educator, I use the term ‘bomb bag’ to describe someone packing a hiking pack by just throwing everything in. No system, no order, like a bomb had gone off. So when Frank from Sydney domestic airport security had me open my very poorly packed backpack my first response was- “Sorry mate. It’s a bit of a bomb bag.”
At any international terminal, I would have been in a world of trouble. A squad of burly men would have repelled from the roof and whisked me off to an interrogation room, questioned me about what my plans were, who I was targeting and then searched every orifice. As it turned out he simply laughed along with me, as I stammered my way through an inadequate explanation. All I was advised to do was, “Probably watch what you say,” and waived on through. He even kindly pointed out where the microphones and cameras were in the ceiling, following my every move. One of the perks of travelling domestically, I suppose. Or luck.
What’s the point of this tale? Things can go wrong or be complete disappointments on any trip you take, irrespective of location. The most entertaining stories seem to be from overseas adventures yet travelling on short getaways in your own country can herald the same results. People venture overseas less, so the problems appear magnified but does that stop people doing it? No, and nor should it.
Wayward Tip: In terms of short trips at home; keep doing them. They might seem less exciting but no holiday, no matter the length, is a waste of time. So long as you don’t die or wind up in jail, that is…