Not since an Irish-made boat hit a chunk of ice in 1912 has there been such a mad scramble to get off anything, as there is to get off this island at the moment. Utter chaos at Dublin Airport, with queues of boarding hopefuls stretching back as far as the Blue Carpark. DAA is overstretched in trying to process up to a 100,000 passengers in any one day.

Despite the best efforts of limited staff, thousands of passengers have missed their flights in the past week. With the June bank holiday weekend looming as we go to press, I imagine there will be some very interesting RTE news-clips for future episodes of ‘Reeling in the Years!

The situation is just as bad in the UK, with hundreds of flights cancelled due to staff shortages and implementation difficulties at airports.

The passport office is being swamped with up to 9,000 applications every day. The office personnel simply cannot cope with the demand and many family holidays have been lost due to not receiving a passport in time.

Since the time of St Brendan the Navigator, Irish people have always had a hankering to travel abroad. As a traveller myself (Lads …Lads …please …) I can easily identify with those who have ‘ants in their pants’ – as in that inbuilt urge to travel. I have often used Willie Nelson’s quote that, “the nearest thing to freedom is being on the move.”

But is air travel worth all the hassle these days? I remember before 9/11 in America, when you could practically walk on and off planes as easily as getting on a bus. It is totally different now and there is a lot of stress attached to air travel.

My son and his family sat on a plane for four hours in Murcia at Easter, before having to be put up in a hotel for the night. The bride and groom we wrote about last week were delayed six hours in Dublin and lost a day of their honeymoon. Another family member was delayed four hours in Dublin, missed her connecting flight in Heathrow and arrived a day late in Las Vegas. These are just a few random samples of travel-trouble over the past few weeks.

So, we ask the ceist; are foreign sun holidays worth the stress involved for the families? And is unnecessary air travel a strike against the environment? (Sorry, Girls … I’m only asking … like!) You can call me the Devil’s advocate, if it makes it a little better.

Mrs Youcantbeserious won’t like hearing this, but I’m going to chance it anyway. We have spent ten hours on a plane going to Mexico, where to me, the resort wasn’t much different to one you would find on a three hour flight to Spain, Portugal, France or Italy. They tell us that ‘travel broadens the mind’ – but I tell you, ten hours on a plane doesn’t broaden mine!

Tourism has obvious benefits for a region. It is great for the local economy – whether that be in Ireland, Spain or anywhere else. But it can be overdone and tourism can actually destroy what brought tourists there in the first place. It is a fact that droves of visiting tourists will change the locals – and not the other way round.

Tourists arrive with a desire to experience a different cultural experience in its natural environment – only to find that it is the locals who are changing in order to accommodate the money-spinning customers. Just as the seas can be over-fished, popular tourist locations can be ‘over-touristed.’

Travel is exciting, invigorating, educational and pleasurable, but there should be something at the other end that you really want to see or do. Do any of you think we need to rein back in and take a look at unnecessary travel and pointless trips? Aeroplanes are the greatest enemy when it comes to combatting climate change.

I accept that it is easy for me to suggest cutting back on unnecessary flights – because I have ‘been there done that.’ And I do remember with great fondness our very first holiday in Santa Ponsa – a long time ago! We are not trying here to deny couples or families their special foreign holiday; but people should realise the stress involved and consider alternative vacations – and give the environment a turn every now and then!

Unless there is something there to genuinely interest me at the other end, airports don’t do it for me anymore. Yes, I shall continue to pop back and forth from time to time to spend that precious time with my family and friends in Spain; but no more am I in the ‘better to travel than to arrive’ club!

My main holiday this summer will be spent taking a stress-free walk around Kerry. If any of you would like to receive a postcard from The Kingdom, just send me a stamped self-addressed envelope!

Don’t Forget

The world is full of cheap holiday resorts. The trouble is it costs a lot of money to get there.

Bernie Comaskey Books