Hurry up and wait ... travelling can be a nightmare, so why do we do it?

Hurry up and wait ... travelling can be a nightmare, so why do we do it? Photo: Reuters

You have to wake up early, of course. Long-haul flights always seem to depart at dawn's crack, and then you have to factor in all the time needed to negotiate the airport. It's inevitably an early morning.

So you're grumpy from the start. Slam down a quick breakfast, throw some last-minute things in the bag and head out the door.

To the airport! There's public transport available, but jeebus – at $12 for a train ticket in Sydney, plus the hassle of making it to Central in the first place, or $17 for the SkyBus in Melbourne, you might as well just get a cab and swallow the extra expense.

The cabbie wants a chat but it's early and you still haven't had any coffee, so you just grunt a few times and then stare at your phone.

It's chaos at the airport – a huge line-up of cars trying get in, then a huge line-up of people trying to check in. You stand around in line for a while and try to will it to move forward, forcing a smile at the person behind you who's apologising for constantly hitting you with their oversized baggage.

After check-in you move from that queue to another queue, wandering through immigration before moving from that queue to another queue, removing most of your clothes for a security check before forcing a smile at the guy who wants to rub his wand over you in a magic trick that's supposed to reveal the presence of explosives. But never does.

The plane might be late, or it might not be. Regardless, you've got the good part of a day to spend in a small space next to complete strangers while the guy in front reclines his seat whenever you're trying to eat. Thanks mate.

There's food on board, and it'll fall somewhere in the range of not bad to really bad. You struggle in the seat for a few hours, try to get comfortable, try to get some sleep in a position that's really not conducive to sleep.

Arrival is always a blur, your mind numbed by lack of sleep and dehydration and the onset of jet-lag. The immigration guys grill you with questions that would normally be straightforward, but in this sort of state seem designed to catch you out in wrongdoing that you haven't actually done.

Down at baggage claim, everyone thinks that if they don't stand right next to the freakin' carousel then their bags will disappear forever into the bowels of the airport, never to be seen again. The belt starts and they all rush forward like kids at a concert, desperate to get a front-row position.

You have to get the elbows out – that is, provided your luggage turns up at all.

Outside the airport there's an inevitable battle to make it to your final destination. Sometimes there are touts to fight off, sometimes there are queues to push in to.

Do you take the cheap option and attempt to figure out public transport through the mental fug of jet-lag, with all your gear to lug? Or just splash out on a taxi and hope the guy doesn't take you on the scenic route?

Finally, many hours and many, many queues later, stinking of sweat, desperate for some decent rest, you find yourself at the door of the hostel. The reception guy gives an apologetic smile – it's only 10am, your bed's not ready yet.

Sigh. It makes you wonder why we travel at all.

But the answer should be obvious. Because walking into that airport, getting onto that plane, arriving at that destination ... forget all the hassle and expense – there's no better feeling in the world.

Do you enjoy the act of travelling? What are the aspects that get on your nerves? Post a comment below.

Email: bengroundwater@gmail.com