Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Nice Relaxing Holiday (yeah right)

I'm rubbish at holidays. Completely useless. For years I had the handy excuse of no money and unstable employment (hello, TV industry!) to keep me safe from the nightmare of holidays. But sadly, now that I'm a grown-up and on a salary that's not an embarrassment, I have to confront them head-on.

It's not that I've been burned by terrible holidays in the past, with the exception of a misjudged family holiday to Ibiza aged 14, the only highlight of which was me finally losing my last stubborn milk tooth. Generally speaking, all my holidays have been great. Aged 17, I spent two weeks in Zante with friends, thrilled to be getting away with public drinking. I loved Italy. I got shown around Copenhagen by a (sort of) native, and got the unique pleasure of hearing 50,000 Danes sing what they thought were the lyrics of Angels at a Take That concert. I had a crazy and inspiring five days in Edinburgh during the festival. And then last year I had a gay wedding in Spain, which was precisely as fabulous as you'd imagine.

So my problem isn't the holidays per se. The holidays generally turn out okay, apart from the constant headache I get in hot weather (one of these days the industrial quantity of ibuprofen in my suitcase is going to be cause for an airport strip-search). My problem is that one week of (semi) relaxation in return for a couple of months of stressful planning and at least a week of exhaustion (read: hangover) afterwards doesn't really seem like a fair trade.

First, you have to wonder if you should really be blowing a grand on a holiday when it should be going into the one-day-possibly-owning-a-shitty-studio-flat fund. Then I stress about time: How much holiday allowance do I have left? Would I rather save it for Christmas? What if I get [insert whatever writing thing I've recently applied for] and I need to take some holiday time to prepare that?

Then there's the destination. I finally have enough money to visit New York - the only place I've ever genuinely wanted to go to - just at the time when none of my friends can afford it. All other destinations are really just Not New York in comparison, aren't they?  I'm not an adventurous traveller, I don't really care if I never trek through South America and I'm subconsciously terrified of being murdered in Thailand. So until Thomas Cook start selling trips to fictional places, I'm going to struggle to muster much enthusiasm.

Finally, there's the key question you need to ask yourself when planning any holiday: Is it worth the 1,000 emails that I'm going to have to trawl through upon my return to work?

I find it strange that people will think nothing of dropping £500 on seven days of lying on a beach and dozing. And yet if I want to spend a week at home writing continuously, people think I'm crazy. But that is my idea of real relaxation. Contrary to popular myth, holidays are frickin' stressful.

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