airportby Crikey intern Matt de Neef

The travel bug is kind of like the herpes virus. Once you get it, it never really goes away and certain things can cause it to flair up.

For me, it can be something as simple as a trip to the airport. There’s just something about being surrounded by travellers that seems to bring on the worst cold sores.

In all seriousness, a visit to the airport rekindles the desire to travel like little else. The massive departure boards with their spinning letters, the anxious tourists scrambling desperately to find their check-in gates, the retail outlets that open ludicrously early, it all makes me just want to pack the ol’ suitcase and go.

Unfortunately, most of my airport visits are the result of dropping family members off as they begin their adventures abroad. Not only do these visits see me heading home rather than through the departure gates, they also cost me a fortune in outrageously priced airport parking.

Actually, it’s a bit of a surprise that airports are a source of inspiration for me at all, given that my previous airport experiences have been far from positive.

At the start of a two-month Europe holiday back in ’08, I did my utmost to lose my wallet (which was full of foreign currency at the time), before I’d even left Tullamarine airport. I wrote in my travel blog at the time;

“Having filled one tray with my bag while going through the baggage check, I put my wallet in a separate tray, only to forget it when collecting my bag from the other side. I realised some minutes later and ran back to the check where the customs officers were going through my wallet.”

And then there was the time in Berlin where my partner and I were beset upon by security after opening a backpack near the check-in desk;

“As we finished closing the zips we felt someone standing behind us – it was a big burly gentleman with some sort of security tag hanging from around his neck. He explained in broken English that opening and closing one’s bags between the security check and the check-in desk was prohibited.”

But I just can’t help it. I know that airports mean hours of waiting around, overpriced food and the realisation that you will be stuck at home while others are loving life on the other side of the globe, but a trip to the airport is still not to be missed. Maybe soon I’ll be the one walking through the doors to international departures, rather than the one waving goodbye with car keys in hand.