10 things to know about holidays
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I've got a holiday booked next month and I am already preparing myself mentally and physically. As one half of a workaholic partnership, neither of us have the capability of effective relaxation.
To us, relaxation shows a hateful degree of WEAKNESS. This is why we are not very good at going on holiday and why it takes us five days to settle into a new routine by which point it's almost time to come home.
This year, I am determined to become one of those people wearing flip-flops and a comedy hat in the airport and not spending the entire journey worrying out loud about whether or not I finished everything on my to-do list and whether or not the hotel's wifi will be reliable enough for me to be checking my email 60 times an hour to see what's happening back at home.
In the meantime, follow my holiday packing tips; I know you like a challenge.
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1. Until you have children, holidays are a time when you can enjoy taking a well-earned rest from the daily stresses and strains of work, let down your hair and relax. After you've had children, going to work is a holiday from your offspring unless your colleagues are in the habit of telling you they're bored every 10 minutes, asking for juice, asking to borrow money or fighting with their siblings in your eyeshot.
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2. A mini-break used to be a tennis term for when the server loses the point during a tie-break. Now it's the definition of a really expensive, pointless kind of semi-holiday in a European capital city where unpacking is futile because you'll be going home tomorrow. For couples, mini-breaks often serve as the warm-up match for a massive-break which involves solicitors, recrimination, threats and endless rows about who actually bought the wine rack and whether that means they're entitled to both it and its contents.
3. Relationship counsellor Zelda West-Meads estimates that only one in 10 holiday romances have a chance of lasting any longer than the holiday itself. An exotic sexually-transmitted disease, on the other hand, can last for a lifetime, which is a true example of irony, Alanis Morissette.
4. In recent survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers placed holidays top of consumer spending priorities, six positions above repaying debts. The debts in question were, very probably, caused by people placing holidays at the top of their spending priority list in the first place. If you think it is sensible to go on holiday rather than paying off your debts, the only holiday you actually need is one from spending. Yes, I am this hateful in real life, too, just get me started on credit cards and online gambling.
5. A useful packing tip: first, lay out all the clothes you think you'll need and all your money. Then, pack half the clothes and twice the money. Make sure you leave behind several key items such as local currency, phone chargers, essential medication and details of pre-booked activities: it is good to challenge yourself on holiday, it will make you feel more ALIVE.
6. Politicians often opt to take their summer holidays in Britain because it makes them look more like real people who can't afford to fly to the moon for a five-star break in unfettered luxury. In 2007, Gordon Brown's holiday in Dorset lasted four hours thanks to the foot-and-mouth outbreak – this does not qualify as a mini-break under any circumstances although I have been on holidays where I have prayed for foot and mouth to break out so that we can leave after four hours.
7. A 'staycation' may sound like a games console for dyslexics, but it is, in fact, a buzz-word for not having enough cash to go abroad for a holiday but pretending you're having a break by staying at home and going for the odd day trip to somewhere less than half an hour away from your house. These 'naycations' see you re-creating those great times when you were off sick or unemployed when all you did was sit on the sofa and think about how bleak life can be. Another way to describe a staycation is 'most weekends unless you leave the county for more than 24 hours'.
8. A recent Visit England poll revealed that one in five people who holidayed abroad last year would look to holiday at home in the future in order to save money. The most popular destinations in Britain are Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District and (hooray!) the Norfolk Broads. Holidaying at home is not to be mistaken with a 'staycation' which is literally holidaying in your own home which, as we have already seen, is not a holiday at all.
9. Recent research by Thomas Cook and ABTA revealed the most ridiculous complaints made by holidaymakers to their travel agents. These included: 'There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish' and 'I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.' All fair points.
10. Under no circumstances agree to go camping unless all parties involved are incredibly keen: it's one thing arguing in a boutique hotel where you can slam doors and sulk in the bathroom. It's quite another to spend two weeks ignoring each other under canvas. A five-star hotel on a sunshine isle with on-tap drink and food is a holiday, camping is a trial – all of us lived in the great outdoors at one point, but when the house was invented, none of us stayed in the caves, did we?