As the UK school summer holiday comes to an end I’m wondering about everyone who went away recently – and those who ‘staycationed’.
A holiday is defined in The Cambridge Dictionary as:
“…a time when someone does not go to work or school but is free to do what they want, such as travel or relax.”
Did you do what you wanted? How did it go?
Better than expected, pretty much according to plan – or were you disappointed?
You might have anticipated a fun-filled, amicable, relaxing family holiday,
or a romantic getaway with a loved one.
Perhaps it was a two-week party you were after,
or an adventurous activity break.
You might have wanted lots of entertainment to choose from – and the opportunity to make new friends,
or just somewhere quiet to be by yourself.
Our expectations of holidays tend to be high – as they often are for weddings, Christmas, birthdays and other special times and dates in our lives. A part of how we think our lives should be, perhaps, and our more general pursuit of happiness?
Maybe you thought relaxed time away from home would heal a troubled relationship? Or give you time and space to talk things out?
How much of your ‘ideal’ translated into reality?
Being away from home on our own can feel strange and very lonely – or it can be quite wonderful.
Being in someone else’s company 24 hours a day can be wonderful, too – but it can also be hard work if we’re not used to it – and if we don’t have the usual day-to-day distractions to give us a break. Sometimes we find out new things about ourselves and other people while we’re away which come as a pleasant surprise. Other things we discover may be less so – or perhaps just things we already knew, but might have been ignoring until now.
When we travel we take ourselves with us – but in the process of planning and anticipating a trip we can kid ourselves that, in different or more exotic surroundings, we (and other people) will automatically be very different.
Being amongst beautiful scenery and allowing ourselves to relax can lift our spirits and bring out our ‘better’ qualities, of course, but an idyllic setting is not, all by itself, going to wipe out a whole history of tensions and arguments – they have a tendency to resurface at some point.
In his book ‘The Art of Travel’ Alain de Botton talks about “… the power of one sulk to destroy the beneficial effects of an entire hotel…”.
He also says “We are sad at home and blame the weather and the ugliness of the buildings, but on the tropical island we learn (after an argument in a raffia bungalow under an azure sky) that the state of the skies and the appearance of our dwellings can never on their own underwrite our joy nor condemn us to misery.”
Differences in personality, needs, wants and preferences between us and those we’re spending time with may be known already – or may emerge. And it’s not just what we do but also how we do it:
- Do you like to have an itinerary or prefer to be more spontaneous?
- Do you travel light, or ‘take the kitchen sink’, as they say?
- Do you like to be active, or ‘flop’? Or do a bit of both?
- Do you love the challenge and excitement of going to new places – “a change is as good as a rest” as the saying goes – or prefer to go back to the same place year on year so you know how everything works and can relax as soon as you get there?
All this can be hard to juggle and, in an attempt to please everyone, we can end up pleasing no-one.
Honest and open communication – where everyone gets their say before, during and afterwards – can help avoid some of this. Time, budget or other constraints often mean that compromises need to be reached and not everyone will get everything they want. Talking it through can mean that those that don’t get their wishes are more likely to understand why, and those that do might be more considerate and sensitive towards the others.
The good news is that, if we want to, we can learn to do things differently in the future. As a coach and counsellor I sometimes use The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator® (MBTI) to highlight, illustrate and explore some of these differences with my clients.
If you know your type (or even if you don’t) you may recognise yourself in the ‘Holiday Types Table’ below – a light-hearted look at our ideal holidays, and published here with kind permission from OPP: