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Home or away? By Sara Niven

1st Aug 2018

Journalist and counsellor Sara Niven puts her case forward for the former when it comes to holidays.

Holiday season is here again and whether you’re jetting off abroad or holidaying closer to home, hopefully the sun will continue to shine for you.

“Going anywhere nice?” is the usual question when someone hears you are taking a break. There can be a tendency to find yourself feeling a bit of a let-down if you can’t answer with some far-flung location.

But what if your holiday didn’t involve any location at all and you are not just staying close to home but staying right there? There’s a surprising amount to be said for doing just that.  

Firstly, while I personally enjoy flying once airborne, who can honestly say they are a fan of airports? Queues snaking horizontally back and forth to kid us that they’re shorter and trying to cram as many 100ml bottles of liquid as possible into a miniscule plastic bag are not exactly fun and games. We take solace in the fact it will all be worth it when we arrive (we hope) but is avoiding that altogether such a terrible idea?

With a week at home, particularly if the weather is good, there are all sorts of options. You can set aside a day for all those jobs you’ve been promising yourself to get around to forever at the start, then bask in the glory of having completed them for the rest of your time off. You can plan days out; how many of us have tourist attractions sitting on our doorstep we keep thinking we must visit at some point but never do? You can treat yourself to something different with the money saved from flight and hotel bills – maybe a learning experience like a watercolour workshop or cookery class or simply indulge in a spa day and massage.

Alternatively, you could just regularly sleep in late (not an option if you have young children I fully appreciate) and read copiously (see previous comment) which sounds pretty good to me.

Holidays mean different things for everyone so a lot boils down to what you see as a break. For some that will mean a hectic pace with lots of new places and new experiences. For others, particularly if the run up to one has been exhausting and stressful, the main aim may be just to recharge your batteries or spend time with family. Neither are ruled out at home however; whilst abroad, often the feeling is that you’ve flown somewhere and need to make the most of every trip offered, every market day, every photo opportunity. It is easy to find yourself feeling under pressure, even on the week or two specifically earmarked for avoiding that.

I’m not knocking holidays abroad. Two of the best weeks of my life were spent in Barcelona for starters. Just pointing out that there are far worse things than time at home, completely free of working obligations. If you have to work twice as hard in the lead up to and following a break as many of us need to (as a self-employed person the logistics of taking two weeks off have ruled this out for me since 2004), then not worrying about factoring in the stress of packing, arranging a cat/dog sitter and the tribulations of airport check ins could be a very good thing indeed. If your idea of heaven is sleeping a lot, eating good food and catching up on reading then you can do all those things with every home comfort to hand and no excess baggage charge for having them. If you want to be sociable, then rather than go and meet a load of new people you may never see again, there are probably numerous friends and family members you’ve been liasing with all year via social media that you could make a date to catch up with – in person.

As you may have guessed, I am not going abroad this year. I will be keeping my fingers crossed the good weather holds (at the time of writing we’ve just experienced our first episode of rain for weeks) and taking the opportunity to see people I don’t see enough of the rest of the year. I’m hoping to fit in a Thai massage, de-clutter the spare room and enjoy a weekend camping at a local beauty spot. Will I be remotely envious of anyone sipping their cocktail overlooking pure white sands in an exotic destination? Well, perhaps just a teensy-weensy bit. But there’s always next year...

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