The Uptown Hostel

Linda's Column

Better safe than sorry?

LindaAs you might know I attempt to travel as much as I can, to as far as I can get. Feeling free to me is the greatest gift in life. However, angry letters from those mad Rabobank-people often cut my journeys short. Thanks to the Flying Pig I can still keep one leg in that backpack world while the other travels home. But it also means that itch to move just does not want to go away.

So I visit friends in Europe or have mini-breaks with my Dutch ones. And every trip I am pathetically excited when I feel that bag against my back. “Let’s go!” But each time I am completely over the whole stupid thing as soon as we cross a border. If I get to keep my Pig lighters or my favourite perfume, I will no doubt find myself stripped and touched indecently in front of a huge crowd. And don’t get me started on those scary bag checks!

Only two days ago, my friend and I were standing in line at the ‘Tegel’ airport in Berlin. “Shit” Robien suddenly says; “I have scissors on me and a pair of tweezers”. “Oh don’t worry” I reply. “That’s okay to bring in your hand luggage now. But you do have to cramp your entire make up in this tiny bag”. Robien now looks puzzled “Why do you think that is?” “Well, (and I instantly put on my I-know-it-all face) “They are afraid that you will hide explosives in moisturizers…”. “No, I know that” she interrupts me “But how come you can bring scissors again?”

After long deliberations, a strip show and having lost another expensive lotion we decide scissor high-jacks must have just grown out of terrorist fashion.  When we walk to the plane, I realize these crazy rules do take that feeling of freedom out of traveling. Where did the golden days go when untagged bags filled with XTC (only discovered in England after having passed the French/Dutch border) just meant a 6 hour delay on your bus? Where a forgotten Chinese apple could still make it all the way to Australia? And you could make check-in, shopping and boarding in 30 minutes tops.

Sure. I understand why it has all changed, and that those rules are made for my own safety. But trust me, regular power displays like these could seriously mess with an innocent traveller’s mind. Just as I am about to sit down a stewardess walks up to my seat; “are you Miss Peppercorn?” I can’t seem to focus on what she is saying but I instinctively reach for my 100 ml deodorant to cover up any guilty scents of cold sweat while my eyes scan for the exits…