A First World Problem

Look, I know it’s completely a first world problem, and (truth be told) I’m slightly embarrassed to be even admitting this one, but…..

I’m not entirely sure what you’re supposed to do on holiday. Are you supposed to chill out and do nothing? And if so – isn’t that a bit of a waste? Couldn’t you do nothing at home, and save a few bob?!  Or, are you supposed to do everything that it is possible to do in the area where you are? Should a visitor to Dublin, for example, trot around every museum, every library, and set foot in to every pub with literary associations – with a side trip to Glendalough and Newgrange thrown in for good measure? Or is it enough to stroll down a few streets, pop in to a few shops and soak up the atmosphere? Is it enough just to be  in a place – or should you feel guilty if you’re not doing a place as well?

Is it enough just to be in a different place, eating food that’s a bit different and enjoying weather that’s a bit different to what you’d get at home? Or are you letting yourself down and missing a whole slew of opportunities if you’re not out biting every cherry that presents itself?  Of course, I am aware that, as we age what we want from a holiday changes, too: A gaggle of 18 year-olds in Ibiza is going to want vastly different things from that holiday than a multi-generational family in the same place. A pair of honey-mooners in Bali is also going to want different things from the island than four 19 year-olds on a gap year. But will the four 19 year-olds want the same thing as each other? Is it even reasonable to expect them to?

I don’t really have much of a history of holidays – although I’ve travelled a fair bit. As children, we were never brought abroad and holidays were a week or a fortnight in a caravan in Wexford or a house in Mayo. There, I just did pretty much what I did at home – read, went for walks and day-dreamed. The change of scenery was enough. As an adult, I’ve travelled a fair bit, but it’s usually been work-related or for extended periods, so it didn’t feel like a ‘holiday’. When I lived in Asia, trips back to Europe didn’t count as holidays, and trips anywhere else were dictated by my former husbands, so I had little say about either where we went or what we did when we got there. My girls and I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit in the past few years, but we tend to go on city breaks and visit the museums, the galleries and a few shops in our destination cities. We’re also very lucky to have friends in a number of interesting places who open their homes to us – which means a different (lovelier) experience of a place entirely.

It’s October now, and the organised among you are already plotting where to go for a winter break or – if you’re really organised – where you’ll be next summer. But what are your plans beyond destination? Are you going to do or just be?

Pic: My girls in the pool on holiday earlier this year.