A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
"Do you mind taking a photo of us with the Taj Mahal/Eiffel Tower/Leaning Tower/Grand Canyon/Angkor Wat in the background?" It's a semi-lovely moment of stranger-bonding while on holiday as the favour is usually returned.
"I can take one of you guys too if you like?" This travellers' quid pro quo has been around for years, though is now heightened somewhat in the era of the selfie. Generally how it goes is that a person not of the selfie generation (read: Baby Boomer) kindly offers to take the photo of someone who — perhaps misleadingly — appears to be struggling to nail their photo on their own.
Sometimes the offer is a godsend and makes for a far better picture, while other times the high-to-low natural angle of a selfie is more flattering for those whose concern about their double-chin outweighs their interest in whatever wonder of the world it is behind them.
But there's another unaddressed issue that crops up here and this has nothing to do with age. Whether you've asked a fellow holidaymaker to take a photo of you or whether they've offered, so often the friendly soul is an absolutely rubbish photographer.
I'm going to go out on an arrogant limb here (if limbs can be arrogant) and say that people who bump into me while on vacation get a great deal with their quid pro quo stranger photos.
I'll carefully consider the composition of the picture, give them both landscape and portrait options and make sure I haven't done anything silly like cut their feet off.
It gives me a hernia the number of times an otherwise nice person will sully my impression of them by taking a photo of me showcasing my entire body except the feet. Of course it's fine if it's just a head-shot, but never, under any circumstances, take a photo of a human being that includes their head, shoulders, torso, waist, thighs, shins and, wait for it, NOT THEIR FEET!
Occasionally I'll point this out to the person who's just taken my photo and when I do, it's often met with a slightly snarky, "Look who thinks they know so much about photography!" as if it's a diva-like demand. You know, akin to asking that only blue M&Ms are in your backstage rider before your concert. I've even had this reaction from friends.
Here's the thing though. Because of smartphones, we've never lived in a comparable time where virtually everyone is always carrying a camera with them. So many cameras, yet so many dreadful photos.
With that in mind, learn a couple of tricks of the trade, starting with including feet in your photos of strangers. Do it for them and they just might do it for you, though don't count on it.
Do we really want free Wi-Fi on planes?
I should be happy, everybody else is. Late last month Air New Zealand announced they'll be rolling out free Wi-Fi on planes that have the capabilities for it. After a successful trial run over the summer months, the national carrier has given the green light to the project. Though as I wrote in Travel Bugs in October, "for the past half a dozen years or so, flying has been one of the few times I've been forced to turn my phone off. It's been such a relief, but those days of blessed compulsory detachment from the small screens in our pockets are numbered".
There's no doubt that if you're flying regularly for business, having Wi-Fi on-board is of great benefit. There's also little doubt that me complaining about this will ultimately come to sound like someone who complained about colour TVs ruining the magic of black and white, or a person who prefers VCR to Blu-ray or Netflix.
But right here, right now, I don't care. I love being forced to disconnect from the outside world when I fly and I'm sad those days are coming to an end.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com.