‘TRAVEL is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer’.
An escape to the sun has three phases: pre-holiday, on holiday, post-holiday blues
I’m simultaneously melting whilst writing this week’s article from a sun-trap of a balcony in Paris in 30 degree heat. It’s holiday time. If you haven’t already gone on holiday, you’re likely planning your holiday, or you’re running a list of errands pre-holiday that grow in a way you wish your bank account would.
Holidays are a form of temporary escapism from your real life: you get to leave your house, your job, your cat (who has taken to relieving himself on the rug in the living room), and the parking ticket your windscreen got slapped with 24 hours before you left (I am appealing that ticket).
An escape to the sun has three phases: pre-holiday, on holiday, post-holiday blues. But why should we go on holiday? And what is it about taking a break that makes facing up to reality that bit easier when you return?
So, once you’ve decided which friend you’re going with or that you’re finally ready to take the plunge with your boyfriend of three months, you need to pick your destination. Whether it’s a trip to the Lakes, or a voyage to Lake Garda, you have to plan. Passport in date? Check. Visas needed? No.
Then days before you go (or in my case, the day before you go), you make lists of what you need to do. So you buy the tanning oil rather than the cream to maximise your ‘Oh you’re so brown’ compliments when you get back to the office. You go and get your nails done and put in an extra few hours at the gym to ward off the pounds you’ll gain from doing sweet fuck all for at least a week. Then you have the struggle of packing, putting your moisturiser into those 100ml bottles for your hand luggage, whittling down the ten pairs of shoes to your top five and weighing your luggage, praying to God that your suitcase doesn’t gain weight from your house to check-in. And then don’t forget your passport and/or your bank card, or essentially, you’re fucked.
The pre-holiday prep is ardous but worth it. There’s no feeling like being on holiday.
And what happens on tour stays on tour - unless you’re stupid enough to have sex on a beach in an Islamic country, or try and smuggle drugs like a complete prick. Nobody knows your name, nobody cares if your shorts are too short, and you can start drinking before noon because nobody will tell you that you can’t. You’re an alien on another planet, and they can usually tell you’re not ‘one of them’. If you’re fortunate enough to fool them with your ‘local’ looks, your blank expression when they talk to you in their native tongue really gives you away as the idiot abroad that you are.
But you get to eat exotic food, drink more for less, and visit places you never even knew existed. You get to stay up late, get up late, and give your daily 6am wake-up call a vacation. We buy obscure gifts for family and friends, and we buy exquisite replica handbags because who’s paying for a real one when the fakes look so damn good? Maybe you’re even hoping for a holiday romance to take your mind off having your heartbroken: the language barrier becomes negligible. And one thing that we all do when we’re on holiday? We use social media to make everyone else still on the daily grind feel new levels of envy towards us and our ‘hot dogs or legs’ poolside photos.
Personally, I’m using Snapchat (follow me on missameerkat). So far in Paris, I've digitally catalogued a woman who got a whole carton of talcum powder deliberately emptied over her head, the street markets that look more like Cameroon than Chateau Rouge, and the upcoming nuptial celebrations when I get to wear my tailored dress. It’s like you’re here with me, but sadly for you, you aren’t.
Soon enough you'll have to touch back down to reality where real life is waiting for you. Post holiday blues. This is the bit I’m dreading. When I have to leave wall-to-wall sunshine and return to Manchester. You realise you only have a limited number of annual leave days, and they won’t stretch to another week off work. Likewise, neither will the contents of your wallet with your car insurance renewal fast-approaching. In the spirit of positivity, here’s what my solution is. Weekend breaks. An Australian friend of mine once said to me when I worked in London ‘Brits don’t realise how good they have it, you can be anywhere in Europe in about two hours’. She'd be right. So book a weekend break and take an extra day either side of the weekend. Bam. Problem solved.
And likewise, my break so far has made me reconsider my UK spending habits. If I skip the everyday Costa visits, I could travel to Paris more often where the patisserie around the corner has the freshest baguettes and fruit tarts to die for instead.
I also think going back home makes you grateful for what you do have: a family that cares about you, friends who missed your twisted sense of humour, and your lifestyle that allows you to hustle hard for your holiday in the first place. Travel is good for the soul, enriching for your mind, and gives you an appreciation of a life different from your own. Likewise, a holiday is a chance to leave your reality behind, and reassess your priorities. You might ask yourself questions like ‘what really matters to me?’ and ‘why have I been letting this bother me?’ and a new environment might give you that renewed perspective to return to your real life with a willingness to change. Plus everyone needs a break. Even you, yes you. So if you haven’t booked a holiday, or aren’t going on holiday, what are you waiting for? I’ve heard holidays in Greece are looking pretty good right about now…
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