The second of ten posts, published each work day, on the rules I set myself to create a successful holiday. The rules work for me: I hope they’re of some use to readers to. But they won’t suit everybody. You’re v. welcome to let me know how it’s different for you – and what your own rules might be.
My second vacation ‘rule’ is likely to prove the most contentious. It is that a holiday should be continuous with the rest of one’s life.
What I mean is this. A friend recently told me he’d been looking at holidays in the Maldives. He found one package that included a beach house that was the ultimate in luxury, including a 24 hour butler service. He couldn’t afford it, but rather wished he could.
But according to my second rule of holidaying, this is the opposite of the ideal. Supposing you go on such a holiday and it’s great: what happens when you get back? A terrible thud, that’s what, as you come crashing back to reality, which can only appear flawed in comparison with the holiday paradise. But it may be worse than that: it may be that the awareness that the paradise will be short-lived and that the life awaiting your return cannot but fail to measure up will infect the holiday itself.
Imagine instead that you take a holiday that broadly continues your lifestyle, only with some improvements built in. You eat out more often. You don’t set an alarm clock. You have time to linger over lunch instead of grabbing it at your desk. When you get back, you have to come down in the world – but the gradient is more gentle. There is no rupture.
There is a parallel here with the way people use big gambling wins. Some people use the money to transform their lifestyle – they give up work and they buy a mansion and expensive cars. That tends to end badly. Others keep on keeping on, but use the money to remove the minor annoyances in their life. They put in double-glazing to cut out the drafts. That’s much more likely to end well.
Ultimately the choice boils down to a division between the transcendent and the immanent. Reach for something far removed or deal with the here-and-now. In my view the here-and-now option offers that rare double-win: it’s less expensive and more rewarding.