Read the text carefully and answer the questions that follow it. Use your own words throughout as far as possible.

I don’t want to travel. I don’t know why, but when God was handing out the wanderlust, he forgot to give me any. I’m quite happy to watch the world go by through my living room window and I have no desire to go out there and see it, explore it, or eat any of it. The fact that other people have done so—and destroyed vast acres of its natural resources to regale the stay-at-homes with their travelogues—just increases my determination to stay put1.

Why should I go back-packing in Outer Mongolia when friends, or friends of friends, have been there before me, photographed it from every possible angle and harangued me long, unsolicited testimonials2 about it? And when all is said and done, the main preoccupation of the average traveller is not with the places they’ve seen or the people they’ve met, even if they do feign an interest in the lost Amazonian tribe they ran into.

There’s an unwritten motto among travellers: He travels faster who dresses appallingly. Travellers all wear the same uniform—open-toed sandals, bermuda shorts and beanie hat. The accessories are minimal and they make a virtue of the fact that they’ve traversed three continents with hardly anything in the sturdy rucksack.

I know all this because I have formed several enthusiastic airport welcome-home receptions for friends who have come back from their round-the-world stint. They all look the same and say exactly the same thing: ‘Oh it was such fun, it’s all so beautiful out there and the people are so friendly.’ But if that’s the case, why come back? If travelling is all so refreshing, why do they immediately demand a bath and a good rest? And if foreigners6 are such friendly, hospitable people, why aren’t they summoning the removal men instead of stuffing their faces in the airport canteen and chattering with the relish of a mute to whom the power of speech has suddenly returned7?

I suppose it’s just that I’m not imbued with the spirit of imperialism: the burning desire to go to far-flung corners of the globe, trample a couple of blades of grass underfoot and claim them as my own. I prefer charter flights and package deals, a full complement of luggage and the fact that my destination is likely to be a hotel with my name indelibly etched in its register. It’s not that I’ve confined myself to this country but I like to know precisely what I’m going to get or the reason why I haven’t got it. I just couldn’t bear the unpredictability of being in foreign climes and not having a brochure to wave in anger at the hotel manager. And I can’t face more excitement than whether or not the plane will leave on time. The casual attitude of the intrepid travellers is anathema to me10. I run my holidays with the precision of a military campaign.

Even then I find it all an uncomfortable business. Planes are invariably late and I’ve felt myself growing old in departure lounges. And this business about ‘just hopping onto a plane’ is not. Even when you’ve got to the airport—usually a trek of no mean significance—there are at least three miles of walkways and several involuntary work-outs as you juggle suitcases on the way to the check-in counter. I don’t travel hopefully so much as doom-laden, envisaging my flight number with the words ‘ill-fated12 prefixed to it on the front page of the next morning’s newspaper. And there’s always the risk that as you jet off to Barcelona some idiot has labelled your luggage Bolivia. What’s more, if you do manage to get through a labyrinth of officialdom13 which is any airport in the world—there’s always the inevitable child screaming in the seat behind.

Some people, I gather, enjoy the whole process—the business at the airport, the roar of the engines, not to mention the regulation, mass-produced cabin food—but for me it’s a misery and I can’t wait to get home.

(adapted from Samantha Norman’s ‘The Travel Bores’)

Questions

1 What does the writer mean by ‘stay put’?

2 What are the ‘unsolicited testimonials’ that the writer refers to in this context?

3 According to the writer, what do travellers say about the things they take with them?

4 What does the writer want to ask the travellers she describes when they return?

5 What do the travellers’ demands at the airport suggest to the writer?

6 What does the writer imply about ‘foreigners’?

7 Why does the writer say that the travellers who have just returned are like people ‘to whom the power of speech has suddenly returned’?

8 In what way is travelling like imperialism, according the writer?

9 Explain why the writer prefers charter flights and package deals.

10 Explain the phrase ‘is anathema to me’.

11 Explain what the writer dislikes about airports.

12 Why does the writer think that her flight will be described as ‘ill-fated’?

13 What does the writer mean by the phrase ‘a labyrinth of officialdom’?

14 Explain what the writer dislikes about being on an aeroplane.

15 In a paragraph of 70–90 words, summarise the writer’s criticisms of the travellers she describes.

Sample Answers

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