It’s very nice to go trav’ling
To Paris London and Rome
It’s oh so nice to go trav’ling
But it’s so much nicer, yes it’s so much nicer to come home.
So sang Frank Sinatra in the 1960s. A lot has changed since then. The number of international airports has increased. The number of flights and destinations have multiplied, and the number of people flying has mushroomed out of all proportion to the capacity of the airports that hope to serve them.
Frank Sinatra would probably not have needed to turn up so long before his flight and then wait four or five hours in long snaking queues as travellers do so now, only to be told at the last minute that the flight had been cancelled because they couldn’t find a pilot or that the air traffic controllers were on strike.
Nor would he have squeezed into a tiny seat surrounded by screaming babies or drunken football fans. Air travel for Sinatra and his kin in the 60s would have been a far more leisurely and luxurious travelling experience. Without the endless waiting in line, the checks for this and the checks for that. He would, no doubt, stroll casually through the departure lounge, followed by a posse of reporters and adoring fans, signing autographs, shaking hands with the pilot and cabin crew, and smiling all the while as he settled into his spacious seat and waited to be served by attractive flight attendants.
The 1960s was a major turning point in aviation industry. More carriers were flying more people, freight, and mail than ever before to more destinations than ever before. It was the decade when everything began to change, and ordinary people began to take to the skies in ever increasing numbers. Holidays in exotic faraway places with guaranteed sunshine took over from wet and windy weeks by the English seaside. Costa del Sol, Magaluf and Torremolinos took over from Cromer, Margate and Torquay, and the road to future bank holiday get away madness at Heathrow Terminal 1 was well and truly laid.
And it was fine for a while. The pallid white faces queued up politely to leave these green and drizzle laden shores, only to return two weeks later, red faced and peeling, with straw sombreros on their glowing heads and stuffed donkeys under their arms. As time went on the world slowly changed, and the destinations people flew to changed, and the aeroplanes changed.
They got bigger, and faster, and more polluting. But the seats got smaller, the queues got longer, and the tempers got shorter.
Over the past couple of summers of airport bedlam, as a result of cancelled flights due to a lack of pilots and aircrew, mayhem at the luggage carousels due to breakdowns and industrial action, and a string of budget airlines going to the wall, it appears that for many, international travel has lost some of its glamorous appeal.
But isn’t that exactly what Frank himself discovered. No matter how nice it was to go traveling, it was always so much nicer, yes so much nicer, to go home. Home for him would clearly have been New York! New York! The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Sunset and Vine and all that! So, why not cut out all that airport madness altogether and just stay home. Home for Brits would be destinations like Wales, The Highlands, The Lake District, and Dartmoor.
Neil Bevan, who runs The Manor & Ashbury Resorts on the edge of Dartmoor is one of many hoteliers and resort managers who is excited to see so many people doing just that. British holiday makers appear to be abandoning the beaches of Spain, the Azores and the Canaries in their droves and are starting to explore this beautiful country with fresh eyes.
So yes, it is nice to go travelling! But so much nicer to stay home.