By Anthony Dylan

It has been a long while for most of us who have not been on leisure travel since 2020. My last leisure trip was to Shanghai, China in 2019. We also did Singapore in 2019 for the U2 concert. One which I waited all my life to go to. The Joshua Tree concert.

The only other flight trips we took recently were to Kuching via either AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines. AirAsia was taken because we had vouchers for unused credits from flights cancelled during the pandemic.

To be honest, I would still prefer Malaysia Airlines if they had competitive offers for their tickets. They have better service in my experience and of course, flying out from KLIA is always better than KLIA2.

As we have been out of the height of the Covid-19 pandemic since October 2021, and with more restrictions thereafter lifted till now; one cannot but plan for the next holiday trip. I had planned to go to the Qatar World Cup Final this December, but I lost out on 3 bidding exercises. It was not easy to go through the bidding process as you would have to await turn before seeking out tickets. Alas, luck was never on my side and after 3 attempts I could not get any chance. Nowadays I still do try with online bank competitions and e-Wallet players. I guess I must just get my new television to watch the games beginning November 2022. A month-long extravaganza.

Airlines no longer require the mandatory use of face masks in flight since 28th September 2022. I would still wear them though whenever I fly now because I do not somehow trust the HEPA filters nor the claim by some airlines that air is refreshed every 3 minutes. I guess I rather be safe and not get sick after arriving and ruin the holiday. Besides, did you not notice that you would smell of stale air after each flight even before the pandemic? Hence, why I think it is better to be paranoid and safe, at least for now.

We have friends who have started to join travel tours to Turkey. Some even went on their own to London, France, Spain, and parts of Europe. A sizable number have also started to travel to Australia though the ETA seems quite a frustrating experience to obtain. Many opt to fly further away than the previously popular Southeast Asian destinations of Bali, Bangkok, and Singapore. Even the F1 in Singapore was lukewarm.

We are thinking the same too. Europe seems interesting but we would need to really see if they would amend their vaccination or testing requirements. Some do not recognize Sinovac. Some countries would require at least a booster. Some require testing regardless of if you have fulfilled the vaccination requirements.

With options now opening up, it would be great to start planning for a long-awaited holiday overseas. New Zealand would also be a good option other than Eastern Europe. We will skip the Americas. The USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America do not appeal much to us yet.

Travelling to us always seemed like good therapy. Heading to the airport and hearing the familiar announcements and going through the check ins and immigration seemed exciting now. Even airline food seems something we would look forward to though we know this is usually nothing to shout about.

I am very sure many airports now would have innovative technology in dealing with check ins, baggage checks and even ticket-less entry. This has been sped up after the pandemic. It goes to show how we can adapt faster than norm once there is a catalyst. Flight tickets and tour prices are not that dear now. But we do have to contend with the lower RM value versus the foreign destinations. That would mean more RM to bring to your destination. But we would also need to be knowledgeable especially with payment methods as China for example, is WeChat Pay country.

For next year, we would divide our time for domestic and overseas travel. Domestic, where possible would-be road trips which would entail going through small towns and villages throughout the Peninsula. Overseas, we try to ensure these are further than 5-hour flights.

There are just so many places to discover that we try not to go back to the same place too often. That would scratch off all the Southeast Asian countries for leisure travel. If would be better to visit as many places as possible in Europe and China before even considering the Americas and Africa.

We have been to the Middle East, South Africa, most of Australia, the West Coast of the USA, Western Europe and even UAE. We also covered most cities of Japan, western Taiwan, Qingdao, Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, and Hong Kong of China. There are still so many other places to go to.

Planning a trip is also fun. This would include self-made itinerary or a full serviced tour. I guess that there is the travel bug now in the air. It is infecting many. Being in an airport feels so relaxing now strangely. I guess the strange yearning to hear the jet engines and the familiar cabin smell, and the same familiar service is real. Perhaps we have been cooped up too long as if restrained. This feels like the breaking of chains and shackles.

It is time to fly again. Bring forth the iron birds.