My husband and I are overdue for a holiday. But where to go?
After considering several options we’re doing something new. We’re calling it ‘going nowhere fast’. Our plan is to have a holiday at home.
Our reasoning is partly financial. Holidays away can be very expensive. We’ve spent a lot of money on treatment over the last year and while we’re not exactly broke, we really can’t afford anything too flash. A lot of cancer affected families will be in the same budgetary boat. But that’s not the only reason.
I find travel stressful. Not the wide-eyed, palpitating heart kind of stressful. More the sort of annoyance you feel when you discover your hotel room is right above the 3.00am garbage collection or you’re stuck on a plane with a distressed baby. It’s not that I don’t understand the trade off. We’re prepared to put up with queues, time constraints, deadlines and being crowded into a metal tube with a few hundred other humans (including the poor babies) in order to get somewhere interesting. We’re also prepared to make trade offs in order to stay somewhere interesting, but there is an alternative.
There are obvious health benefits in staying at home. If you’re still in chemotherapy you’ll relate to the bacterial nightmare that accompanies something as mundane as a trip to the shops. For many in treatment, travel is just too risky. Even some of us out the other side continue to be dubious. I’m no longer checking my temperature nightly for early signs of neutropenia, but after everything my body has been through I really don’t want ‘Delhi belly’, an allergic reaction to foreign pollen or even a head cold.
If you’re concerned about the environment (and we are) then holidaying at home avoids all of those ‘carbon miles’ that travel usually requires. We’re also thinking that by cutting out the travel we can maximise the holiday. No long haul flights or eight hour drives this time. We’re already here.
If you have pets you’ll be familiar with all of the anxiety that accompanies holidaying and making sure your fur kids are well cared for. Two of our animals are very old an unlikely to survive another year. Leaving them in someone else’s care would be difficult and we would worry about them while we were away. Holidaying at home seems like a much better option. We’re also avoiding any concerns about being broken into while we’re away, because we won’t be away.
The challenge is to avoid just falling back into our day-to-day routine. To avoid this, we’ve made a list of the sorts of things we like to do when we go away on holiday. It looks like this:
Rest: holidays for us are all about taking it easy, doing things to our own schedule and not being rushed.
Reading books: We’ve always got a stack we both want to get to, and holidays are a great opportunity to do that.
Walking: We cover a lot of ground when we holiday. We particularly like bush walking and beach walking. We prefer to do our sight seeing on foot.
Tourist Stuff: We’re not fond of crowds or queues but we usually visit at least some of the local tourist attractions.
Eating Out: Great restaurants with gourmet food, cheaper places with great Thai or Indian, tasty take away and a couple of kebabs on the beach. It’s all good.
Cooking: We usually cook most of our breakfasts when we travel and often a couple of our dinners too.
Learning: We like short courses in anything from cooking to aquaponics. We don’t always incorporate organised learning but we do like to learn about the history of the places we visit.
Something Exciting: On previous holidays we’ve gone zip lining, hang gliding, skiing, bike riding and rock wall climbing.
Something Indulgent: Massage, spa treatments or anything luxurious.
Of course, holidays are also about what we don’t do. So we’ve also got another list:
Housework: We usually do some basic tidying up wherever we are because we like to holiday in a nice environment, but we expect someone else to do the hard work, like cleaning bathrooms and floors.
Home maintenance: We can’t do it when we’re away so we won’t do it while we’re holidaying at home.
Opening mail: Same deal. If it can wait when we’re away it can wait while we holiday at home.
Answering the phone: We might need to be a bit flexible on this one but our plan is to let everything go through to message and to check once a day. If it’s not so important that we’d return the call from Europe then we won’t return it while we’re on holiday.
Screen time: We usually avoid television and computers when we holiday. I usually spend about fifteen minutes a day on Facebook, uploading photos and checking on my friends and family, but we’re otherwise away from our technology.
Wake to an alarm: We sleep until we wake up when we holiday. Too easy.
So far we’ve headed down to the local tourist information office and grabbed a selection of brochures and a copy of the monthly magazine that tells tourists what’s on. We’ve already discovered a lot of things we didn’t know about our local area. There’s a high ropes course with flying foxes that looks exciting and lighthouse with wonderful local guides that give tours. They’re both part of the plan. We’re also researching Trip Advisor for local restaurants we’ve never tried and local attractions we’ve never enjoyed.
We’ve found a locally produced booklet with all of the best bush walking in our area. We’ve got two sun lounges ready in the back yard. We’ve booked a cleaner to come at the start of the holiday so we don’t need to worry about the house work. We’ve set a budget, just as we would if we were travelling and we’re enjoying the idea that this holiday will cost us less and looks like being at least as much fun.
We’ve told our friends what we’re planning. Some of them are thinking of ‘holidaying’ with us, or joining us for part of it. I dream of future home-based holidays where we all hang out at the beach, eat together when the sun goes down and then head home all relaxed and happy. It sounds a lot like the sort of summer holiday we used to enjoy when we were kids and holidaying at home was just what we did.
I’ve already got the feeling that this won’t be the last time we holiday at home. When it comes right down to it, home is probably the place that I feel happiest and safest. It’s where I’m relaxed and comfortable in my own skin. It’s where I’m surrounded by things that are familiar and loved. What other destination can give me all of that?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure we’ll head off into the great unknown at some future date. I’m not opposed to travel. It’s just that right now, after all the treatment and the anxiety, I could really use a great big dose of the familiar and comforting things that come with a home based holiday. I’m going nowhere fast, and I plan on having a great time doing it.