Small pleasures of travelling

Travelling is fantastic most of the time, but occasionally there’s a moment of pure joy provided by the most mundane occurrence. Here are ten of the small pleasures we’ve found on our travels:

  1. Getting clean laundry back. There’s literally nothing better than pulling on some clean clothes, even if they often smell overpoweringly of washing powder and your shorts all have creases ironed down the front.
  2. Non-glacial internet connections. Obviously you won’t get this in Australia, but elsewhere when a web page loads in less than 30 seconds, the feeling is marvellous.
  3. Free stuff. The best yet was our upgrade to business class between Brisbane and Tokyo, but even minor free things are great: free water on bus journeys in Vietnam and Thailand; free prawn crackers with your beer (or a free shot on the hour, every hour) in Indonesia; or free deep-fried garlic and peanuts (it’s really good!) in Cambodia.
  4. Being charged “local” price. It’s difficult to beat the feeling of seeing someone pay the same as you have on a local bus, when you’ve been convinced you were paying over-the-odds.
  5. Accommodation touts. A strange one, because a lot of them are charlatans who tell you their place has hot water, air-con and Wi-Fi and when you get there you find it’s a hole in the ground covered with a sheet of corrugated iron. But, when you get one who leads you to a clean, cheap guest-house with cable TV, all is well with the world.
  6. Air-con. Anywhere. Anytime. A gust as you walk past a shop can be orgasmic, a whole bus journey when the air-con works is utopia. Coming back to a chilly hostel room after a sweaty evening drinking is the stuff of legend.
  7. Proper signage. The number of times we’ve searched high and low for sights because there are no signs (let alone signs in English) is up in the hundreds. When we see a signpost for something we’re looking for, a small smile appears on our faces and there is suddenly a spring in our step.
  8. Toilets with the holy trinity. Western loo, toilet paper, full hand-washing facilities.
  9. Killing mosquitoes. The little buggers are horrible. If you kill one you feel like a bronze medallist at the Olympics. If you flatten three or more in a day you feel like the winner of silver. If you obliterate one of the swine as it’s feeding on your ankle you grab the gold.
  10. Being the only gringos on the bus. Weirdly satisfying.

What simple pleasures have you found while you’ve been travelling? There are certainly many that didn’t make the cut here. Would love to hear other suggestions below.



  1. Not convinced about comparing The father son and holy ghost to wiping your arse but new “mini blog” is on the money for those of us left behind who have to work for the vast majority of our mundane little lives.

    • Appreciate the comment, but when will you learn to spell your own name? My wife went to a convent school for two years and she couldn’t think of a better comparison for the dunny.

  2. Crisp white sheets and tea and coffee making facilties in your hotel room when you’ve been sleeping in a cockroach infested bedroom in the back of beyond!
    Free tea and toast in your Hong Kong hotel!
    Getting off a bus/coach without millions of children begging for pens!

    • You’re cheating: you used to be an air stewardess! Crisp white sheets though are still a distant dream – tonight we have floral nylon and it’s pretty good.

  3. This one time I was in Togo in a rural village and when we went back to the city we stayed in a hotel which had real beds and real toilets. It also had a shower, but the showerheads didnt work so we just filled up buckets from the tap to shower–but it was still better than showering out in the open.

    • If you were in Togo with hot water then you must have been in the Royal Palace. I hear they’re still looking for a couple of Ming vases………………….

  4. I like what you did here. EPIC. I would never think of these as being luxury. This is totally unfathomable to me.

    • You need to go on holiday without your Mum and Dad Jonathan! These things really are luxurious under the right circumstances.

  5. 11. Communication:

    There is nothing better then being able to contribute excessive and intrigueing dialogue with another native speaker that does not involve aggressive body language like your average Italian citizen.

    • Au contraire Vincent – there’s nothing better than being in a country for a month and only knowing the words for chicken, beer and noodle. The small pleasure is getting them mixed up and the locals still pretending to understand.

  6. Nothing like coming home from a great trip with free stuff in your pockets feeling on top the world.

  7. Nothing like coming home from a great trip with free stuff in your pockets feeling on top of the world.

  8. Getting off the airplane. Very few feelings are as good as stetching after a long flight. Until your pants rip, thats awkward.

  9. I once went on a safari trip and we had to shower with buckets and had no electricity or air conditioning. When I got back home it was great to appreciate the smaller benefits of “western” living (some of which are on this list!)

    • Liz, we’re in Indonesia at the moment and most toilets, whether Western or otherwise, have a waist-high tub of water in the corner. The locals use it for washing (using a small scoop) and wiping (using a small scoop). I’m yet to brave it apart from when I’m thirsty sat on the throne.

  10. *+.”!Gooooood Jooooooob!”.+*

  11. When, I went to the Morocco biking trip, last year, with some students and teachers from my school, we did not have proper beds, toilets and showers for a few days. In the desert, we had to go next to either a palm tree or rock to go to the toilet.

  12. One time in Jordan we went on a jeep tour in sand dunes. We were going about 90 mph in the heat with no seat belts, the doors did not lock, and with sand flying in our faces. In the middle of the tour they took us to a small hut where they gave us ice cold cokes- I don’t even like coke, but it was the most amazing drink I’ve ever had…

    • I don’t really like Coke either, but sometimes it just feels right. Like right now my greatest small pleasure would be a McDonalds – rice for a month makes you feel like that.

  13. I found mostly satisfaction to find an uncomfortable seat to rest after some walking through mountains.

    • Surely a comfortable seat would have been better? Although I confess that after our 27km walk in Patagonia, a rock felt like an armchair.

  14. Tom,

    I didn’t know that you were of Scottish descent, devoting your life looking for freebees… 🙂


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