Does travel make you happy, or just cause you more stress?
You probably remember your first-ever holiday, most likely in your childhood. The soothing calmness of pure existence, having no particular objectives just enjoying whatever, wherever. Every time I think of taking a holiday, and I do think of it quite often, this is what I crave. Somehow, however, as soon as I start planning, the dream begins to fade.
First, I need to decide what I’d fancy. We are in January, so I have the choice of going for a ski holiday to enjoy the snow, or somewhere warm to get away from the gloomy British weather. Is it just relaxation I am after, or do I want to do some exploring? Where do I stay? How do I get there? There are so many decisions to make, but ultimately the question always is:
How do I spend my precious time and hard-earned money so I get something valuable in return?
If I decide to go somewhere warm and explore, how do I know where to go? I could type into Google: “warm places in February”. I’d get many articles written by companies who want to sell me their product. These articles are featuring destinations that are very far, likely expensive or just not for me. I could look at MetOffice who will tell me nothing beyond the expected temperatures in those remote places.
Let’s say I got through this part. Next question, what will I do there? Are there places to see at all or the whole area is a desert? How do I get around? Is the holiday long enough to do the things I want? Can I eat out or need catering? Questions, questions, questions.
Again, Google knows. However, likely by this time, I have invested precious hours if not days into my investigation. What is worse, I still do not know enough to make a decision, let alone be sure that the choice will turn out to be the right one. Not long before I start asking myself:
I will likely come back even more tired if this is how the rest of the holiday will look. Is this worth the few grand I am about to pay?
I remember, some of the best holidays my family and I ever had. We just got in the car and started driving. No plans, only an approximate return date. We booked accommodation on the go, looked for points-of-interest and restaurants as we went. Some of you will ask: “Is this not an expensive way of travelling?”
Yes, it could cost about the same as a four-star all-inclusive in Fuerteventura, but it will feel more like a holiday. Of course, unless lying next to the pool is all you are after, or you hate driving.
For me, a holiday means breaking out of the ordinary. Having some spontaneity, laughter, talks about random things like getting out of bed at 10 AM if I choose to. Spend a night by a waterfall I like without having to think about the hurrying back for the evening meal at the all-inclusive.
So, what am I saying? I say travel works best like sensible cooking. There are seasonal vegetables that do not need to travel the world to get to your plate. The same is right about our holidays. Why insist on leaving the dark British winter behind when we could dust off our board games and have some fun with our friends and family?
The two grand spent on a winter getaway could go a long way in the British summer. We could travel the Hebrides, camp or rent rooms along the way. We could get to know some places that still feel much more remote than the popular holiday routes Jet2 might fly.
The value in all this, beyond the economics, is the joy of conversations, the giggles, the shared memories. Even the stuff that did not go so well might just become part of history — a story to tell.