It happens once, twice, maybe even three times a year. We decide to step outside our comfort zone and venture out of our miserable, grey, wet country for hotter, sunnier climes. The promise of scorching sunshine and sky-high temperatures is too much to resist, and so we reward ourselves with a couple of weeks on holiday.
The premise is simple: take a break from our bleak, monotonous lives and soak up the sun, get a tan, be refreshed, relaxed, and come home rejuvenated and loving life.
Of course, nothing in life is this simple.
The entirety of the holiday inevitably is much more complicated, and invokes much more stress than is desired.
This all begins with holiday shopping. No matter how many suitable garments we have stuffed at the back of our closet, we feel the pressing need to purchase an entire new wardrobe.
We set out with the best intentions of uncovering a revolutionary, unique way of somehow looking stylish and chic at the same time as dripping with sweat and covered in sun cream. However, we soon realise this magical combination is utterly elusive, and so plump for numerous combinations of different colours of plain t-shirts, alternating between round-neck and V-neck. We justify to ourselves that the blue really brings out our eyes, and the black really highlights our biceps. Not to worry – we shall be looking reem by the pool after all.
Toiletries are then the name of the game. Being British, it is in our nature to fret over any and every possibility that may arise on our travels. To counter this, we buy literally (not literally) everything in Boots. Suncream. Aftersun. Tanning oil. Insect repellent (spray AND roll-on). Bite cream. Condoms. Mini deodorant. Pocket-sized fan. European plugs.
We kid ourselves into thinking we can get away with factor 15 suncream, but then soon realise what we think is ‘bronzing’ is in fact ‘burning’. It is at this stage we bless the decision to bring factor 50 ‘just in case’, and smother our throbbing red body in it, before adding the insurmountable defence shield that is the plain white t-shirt covering our torso and towel over our legs, and hide away in the shade for the next few days.
At the airport, we insist on buying a small fortune’s worth of junk in WHSmith including magazines, drinks, crisps, some book we like the cover of but will never read, more Euro plugs, and some sucking sweets to counter that weird ear popping sensation on the plane. We then visit everyone’s secret favourite place – the Duty Free Shop. This is the place where every cologne must be tried on. The place where oversized, surreal, Toblerone bars are thrust upon us. The place where alcohol comes in a plastic bottle. Obviously, we don’t actually buy anything. We just like to compare the VAT-free prices with normal prices. But – whatever you do – do not buy. It would be a bargain. It would make too much sense.
Free WiFi in the departure lounge is just too tempting to ignore, but just as we complete the tumultuous digital obstacle course to log on, our plane starts to board.
This is where the holiday really begins. From finding out you have been seated in the fire-escape row, and so being responsible for saving the lives of everyone on the entire flight in the case of emergency, to discovering the rent-a-car company you booked with doesn’t actually exist, this is where those ‘stories to tell the grandkids’ (or bore your friends with) happen.
Family holidays, lads holidays, stag dos, hen dos, honeymoons, school trips.
They’re all the same – get massively hyped for them, then realise the intense stress levels going on holiday actually invokes.
Go there stressed, come back burnt and jetlagged, in even more need of a holiday than when you went.
On that note, I wish everyone the most amazing summer holidays!