Why Is Planning Travel Getting Harder?

I love travel. It’s one of my favorite things. I couldn’t wait to book my first post-pandemic international trip. Well, I went on a cruise last year, and I guess those were other countries, but I’m talking about booking my first plane trip out of the country.

My mom is from Wales and her whole family lives there. It’s not a large family – she had just two sisters (my dad had nine siblings in contrast) and one of her sisters has died. But another aunt is very much alive and so are other family members. I’m especially close to the family of one of my mom’s cousins and her daughter Kerry is whose house I call my second home.

My last trip there was in November of 2019. Since COVID travel there has been difficult to impossible. Well, except this year, but Kerry was having her house remodeled and then had a ton of travel planned herself and we couldn’t coordinate schedules. I am about to start a contract job, so now I couldn’t travel until that was done.

My contract job was finally confirmed and I was told we would be working until Thanksgiving. I‘ll be one of those folks who helps people sign up for their insurance benefits. Everyone’s favorite thing to do. But I can assuredly say most of them will probably say they had fun when they get off the phone with me. I enjoy doing it and making it as painless as possible.

I decided to waste no time and leave on Thanksgiving day. With my mom having Alzheimer’s and my siblings all having children of their own and mostly doing their own thing these days (not that I’m left out – my youngest sister always invites everyone), it is a good day to travel.

Plus I was trying to get the cheapest flights possible before fares go up for Christmas. It took a bit of maneuvering, but I finally decided on my dates. I wanted to be there at least two weeks.

Then to find the cheap tickets.

There simply weren’t any.

I could have taken a direct flight, but the extra money was beyond what I wanted to spend. I could upgrade my seat with another airline adding one short layover (a few more hours of travel) and still save money. Not first class upgrade, but “you will be able to pick out your seat before you get to the airport” upgrade. Plus a bit more legroom.

From here on out it should be easy, right? I know the airline and the dates.

Of course it wasn’t.

I lost count of how many times I tried to book the ticket. Sometimes it would take me to my first flight and bomb out. The one that really got me was when I was booking seats for my last flight and it bombed out again. It made me crazy

Finally Friday morning early I get everything booked. Yay! It only took all week.

I report it to my friends on Facebook.

My mother says I put my life on Facebook. It’s not totally true, but I post many days. I always post about trips. Am I obnoxious? Some probably think so, but I have some friends who never travel and either can’t afford to or don’t really want to, but enjoy living vicariously through me.

I do the same for others. I can never travel enough. You can always tell me about your trips. I’ll even look at all your pictures.

My friends know how this excites me, so celebrated with me.

One friend said I needed to go see the ABBA Voyage show in London. I knew nothing about it, but my cousin Kerry said she had seen it, too, and it was fab.

It is evidently a genius show combining technology and the ABBA personas of yesterday with the voices and dance moves of ABBA today. When my friends here said they were probably going to go back to London to see it again, I figured I better go when I’m over there.

Kerry said she would love to go again, so we’ll go the night before I fly home. We’ll stay in a hotel close to the venue and I’ll head to the airport the next day while she heads home to Wales.

So I started to book our tickets. I have no idea how long it took to book the ABBA tickets. At least three hours? I was on the British Ticketmaster site and nothing worked right for me.

Is anyone else really bad at booking seats? I’m horrible at it. Kerry had Dance Floor tickets last time. They have this huge area in front of the stage and you dance all night. In other words, lots of people, no seats. She said she would love to do that again, but seats were fine, too.

My friend Brandon said to go for the seats. I’m basically lazy, so decided he was probably right. I also read the light show is better experienced from the seats. That’s all subjective I think, though. But yeah, crowds and standing and walking through airports the next day? Yep, seats won.

I wanted to get cheaper seats. I also read there was not a bad seat in the place, so why pay way more for them? This is not my usual thought. I normally will pay for the good seats. But next year I have a ton of expensive travel planned so I want to watch my pennies this trip. Tickets are still expensive, but they could be worse!

The British Ticketmaster site hates me. First of all, you can’t book two of three seats together. That took a lot of the possibilities away. I finally found some that worked. The people next to us are paying £10 more per ticket, so I will enjoy that.

I tried to book the tickets, but it kept timing out. So frustrating! My US Ticketmaster account wouldn’t work there. My Pay Pal wouldn’t work there. It logged into my US account, but said it couldn’t process the transaction. A few more timeouts so I could really make sure this wouldn’t work.

It asked for country and had the British Isles countries and Other. I put in Other. That was fine, until I put in my zip code for my credit card. It wouldn’t accept a US zip code.

Finally, after trying several times, I Googled. Someone said it happened to them and they put their hotel zip code in. It worked! Well, after it timed me out again.

I have no idea how many timeouts I endured. At least 10. But we now have ABBA tickets.

Then it was time to book the hotel. My friend Google got me a list of hotels close to the venue. I tried to go from the app on my iPad to the app on my phone, but the credit showing on my phone was less. It may possibly be my British Expedia account. Yeah, I have that, too. I wanted to use that to cut the hotel cost. I finally got it all right, but it took a while.

I laughed at my Welsh cousin Kerry because she said she doesn’t know London well, so I am responsible for figuring out how to get us there. She’s already seen the show, mind! But I’ll figure that part out, too. We’ll get to the hotel, which I hope will be close to a tube station so I don’t have to haul my suitcase all over creation, and someone at the hotel can give us directions to the venue and back. I’m learning not to be shy when it comes to trying to figure out directions.

So this trip is planned and booked and I haven’t got travel insurance so nothing better happen. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone after three years. But really, shouldn’t technology make travel planning faster and easier?

Oh, and the sunflowers above are from my niece and her boyfriend’s sunflower maze. I am so proud of them. They are injecting new life into his family’s farm.

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