There are only two passports at our house. They have both been renewed within the last two or three years. Before we leave our house for an overseas holiday, I ask Sarah if she has the passports. “Yes,” she proudly announces. Before they are packed, I MUST check that they are OUR passports (not someone else’s) and that they are still in date. It’s not a control thing. I’m not controlling in any way – I dislike the notion of anyone being controlled. It’s an OCD thing. When you have invested so much time, money and effort into one of the highlights of your year, you cannot leave anything to chance.
“Have you got the tickets?”
“iPads?” (Even on holiday we love our gadgetry and technology).
“Chargers? Mobile phones? Cameras?”
“SD cards?” Heaven forbid that we should run out of gigabytes in the middle of a snorkelling expedition!
… and so it goes on. I have to physically set my eyes on each item.
I can’t help it. When we go on our holidays we set so much importance on getting things right. You only have ONE chance. It’s not like missing the bus for work and having to wait for the next one. No passport – no holiday, and the airport is 150 miles from home. When we flew to the USA to do Route 66 last year, just by simply forgetting our driving licences, the whole three week adventure would have been destroyed. We may not have realised until our arrival at the car rental site. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Once satisfied that all is packed and that the car is loaded, we now have to leave the house. This could take some time. Every door, every window and every electrical item has to be checked and double checked that it is locked or switched off. “Don’t switch off the fridge…” she reminds me. One room at a time… close the door… onto the next one.
“Did you lock the gate at the bottom of the garden darling?”
“I haven’t been anywhere near it since you told me you locked it last night,” she replies.
Off I trot, down the garden path. Yep. It’s locked.
“I’m just going to send a quick email,” she tells me. “Oh no, you’ve switched off the wifi!”
I’ve heard that the modems can catch fire, see. It’s all well and good having a lovely holiday, but if you return to the burned remains of your home it puts a bit of a damper on the experience.
So we get into the car. Now for the double checks. Passports, tickets etc.
It may all sound over the top, but I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. There are just so many things that can happen that could ruin your well-earned break. We pin all our hopes and dreams on this magical two-week period of our lives, when all the while just one important bolt can work loose and cause a wheel to fall off, sending us crashing into a ditch.
Illness, for example, or some kind of accident. Family issues. A friend of ours keeps reminding us that there could be a volcanic ash cloud. Strike action at the airport. As we set out on our journey in the car (we have to go the previous day and stay overnight at an airport hotel in case of traffic problems), Sarah says, “This is where our holiday begins.”
Not for me. I will not be able to relax until we are literally sitting in the plane. Only at that point can I REALLY be certain that we are going. At this point I am very much in need of a holiday.
Wouldn’t it be easier to stay at home? No. For me, foreign travel is worth every penny, every hour of labour and every moment of anxiety and uncertainty. Of course there is a possibility that things can go wrong, and we have had one holiday cancelled due to illness, so we have experience of this. Well, Sarah does. I was in a coma at the time. Maybe there will be more holidays that don’t turn out as planned. But for the most part, if you plan everything properly it will all work out. We have had some fabulous memories and unforgettable adventures. She knows how I’m going to behave each time we set out on holiday. It just goes with the territory now. She lets it go over her head.
As we are two hours into our motorway journey to the airport, my body suddenly jars with tension and the realisation that we could be facing a holiday disaster.
“Sarah! Did you pack the dental floss?!!”
Please visit my website http://www.markdpritchard.co.uk