I recently had a lovely vacation to Cat Island in the Bahamas. While ultimately my trip was wonderful, the getting there was not.

Traveling now, as an adult, is not nearly as much fun or as carefree as when I was a kid. I remember back in the day when kids would actually dress up to go on the plane. Yes, most of the time I was going to Florida to see my grandparents, and I think it made them happy to see me in my flowered dress and Mary Janes. Oh, and let’s not forget the ubiquitous white tights, because, really, every girl needs to understand the laws of thermodynamics at six. What started out with me fresh as a daisy wound up with me looking much like a prom corsage the day after the dance. My grandparents always wiped the damp hair off my face and asked after my health.

Do you remember back then you could actually change your mind about any portion of your trip, and the airline agent, a real person on the phone, would enter a few keystrokes and you’d be rebooked without a fee and perhaps with a smile, or even a “Have a great trip!” Now, those same keystrokes cost hundreds of dollars and enrage me every time. There are rules, lots of rules.

Bringing luggage now is expensive. Do I check a bag and pay anywhere from $25 to $50 and risk having none of the right clothes on vacation because my bag is in Boise and I’m in the Bahamas? The only good thing about this new expense is it makes me a much more thoughtful packer. I consider very seriously just how many shoes I’m actually going to wear.

One time when I was seven, my father took me and my brother down to Florida to visit his folks. We were not dressed up, which was a good thing, because my father left all our luggage in the cab. It wasn’t until the cab was far, far away that we realized we had no luggage. My father panicked and we shopped in Florida for summer clothes.

The first leg of my trip to the Bahamas was canceled. There was no alternate booking to be had that wasn’t three days later. I called the customer service number, once I’d found it on the website, and then spent far too long talking to the robot man who kept asking questions “so he could help me better” and I was practically shouting “Representative. I’d like to talk to a person. Representative!” Then I’d accidentally dropped the F-bomb in frustration and had to start all over again. And then I was on hold a very long time and I just gave up. All the while I was searching as many travel sites as I could find to see if there were two seats leaving anytime sooner than three days hence.

I found seats and we had a fabulous trip (including the 4 a.m. drive up to Montreal). We arrived with all our luggage and very quickly put the long travel day behind us as we settled in to watch a glorious sunset and put winter behind us.