Confessions of a Cranky Traveler

I like exploring new places. I love flying. I like spending time with my husband. I like traveling. But boy does it sometimes make me cranky.

Mostly the crankiness comes from not knowing where I am or where I’m going. That’s my crutch in travel. I need to know what I’m doing. My poor husband.

We went to NYC for a few days recently, and went everywhere in Manhattan. It was our first trip to New York, and the subway was actually pretty easy to navigate. Everything was clearly marked as Uptown or Downtown, or even Brooklyn or Manhattan. Signage made transfers pretty easy, actually. The grid-like layout of the city helped, too. We had a map from the hotel, and once we got oriented using the tall buildings as a guide, we were able to get where we needed. We actually did a fantastic job navigating NYC, all the way from top to bottom.

But when we got disoriented, I got cranky.

Take the intersection at 86th and Lex. It’s like some of the L stations where you have to climb the correct set of stairs to get on the correct platform. I thought that the platforms were divided by 86th Street, with Uptown trains on one side, and Downtown trains on the other. It wasn’t until the last day of our trip that I realized that the platforms were divided by Lexington, instead. No wonder Jeff was confused when I dug in my heels and insisted on using the set of stairs I knew took us to the right platform, instead of some other set of stairs I wasn’t familiar with.

I got cranky when the buses we rode on didn’t have deaf-friendly signs. Since it was dark, we hopped on a bus that would take us across Central Park. Supposedly the driver announced stops, but I didn’t hear a $&*# thing. To top it off, the bus lights turned off when the door closed, so it was dim. I couldn’t see a thing. The windows were high and weird, so I couldn’t see a thing outside, either. Where were we going? I had no clue. I just knew it traversed the narrow end of Central Park, but had no idea where the stops would be because there were no signs. I got cranky and panicky. Jeff was able to hear and get us off at the right stop, but until then, I was afraid we’d get stuck on the bus and end up God-knows-where.

I got cranky when some stations had TWO levels of platforms for boarding the train. The physical sign in one station said that the 4 train arrives at only the top platform, but the electronic sign said it was the next train and it was coming downstairs. Jeff tried to tell me that, but I was cranky at the conflicting signage. I always try to make sure signage at my places of work are well-designed, well-worded, and well-placed. Surely others can take a few minutes to improve signage, too, right?

I just hate wasting time with being lost en route from Point A to Point B.

and I hate being lost in the dark. It’s like being MORE lost if you’re lost in the dark, because you can’t see a **** thing.

However, I’m okay with meandering park paths. Parks are safe. Trails are usually safe, if we have a map and a compass. They’re meant for wandering, and not necessarily to make travel easy.
Plus I don’t go into parks after dark if I can help it. Or any other unfamiliar place after dark, for that matter.

That’s my particular fault when it comes to travel, but really, I DO enjoy it. I just may not realize it at the moment of lost-ness.

Thank goodness I have a patient husband who (usually) knows where he’s going, and who knows to let me think in quiet for a few minutes until I feel better. He definitely helps to reduce the stress, and makes traveling fun.

Anybody else have a particular aspect of traveling that makes you cranky?


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  • I have a great time travelling but I get cranky when I see "the ugly American" in foreign countries abusing some poor service worker who hasn't "hopped to" promptly enough for them. I watched this one afternoon in a Paris train station where a man stood in the wrong line, only to be told as much when he arrived at the front, and he three a conniption. This Frenchman behind me and I exchanged knowing looks and he said to me, "Yes, traveleeeng, eeze learning to be patient."

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