You know what the best kind of planning for your vacation is? None!
When summer comes along, can gratuitous advice on how to plan your vacation be far behind? But while I am as happy as the next person to get some tips on the best travel destinations and the cheapest way to get there, there is one annual pre-holiday ritual that makes me break out in hives. And that is the flurry of ‘summer special issues’ from the glossy magazine stable, all of them vying with the other to tell us how to ‘get the best bikini body’, where to buy our ‘holiday wardrobe’, and the ‘best way to pack’ our suitcases before we head out to the airport (‘in a comfortable tracksuit’, of course, silly!).
If you must know, the packing tip du jour involves ‘rolling your clothes around tissue paper’ so that they emerge wrinkle-free at the end of their journey. And packing ‘lots of accessories’ so that you can go ‘from day to night’ effortlessly. But wait, before you tackle the suitcase, you need to go on a shopping spree to pick up the latest ‘resort wear’ in the stores. And remember to buy ‘one size too small’ so that you are incentivized to go on a new diet-and-exercise regimen to fit into your new clothes by the time your vacation begins. That means no carbs-no-alcohol-no sugar to shift those stubborn pounds; endless crunches and squats to tone up that tummy and bum; and you do know that a little light exfoliation never hurt anyone?
Well, I don’t know about you but this avalanche of advice makes me want to go and lie down in a darkened room and not emerge until the sun has set on summer. Let alone head out on holiday, I can’t even summon up the energy to leave my bed, so overwhelmed am I by the endless instructions of the stuff I ‘simply must do’ before I even think of booking a ticket or making a hotel reservation.
And it is for people who feel like this that I have decided to draw up my very own anti-glossy magazine guide for ‘preparing for a summer holiday’.
• Ditch that diet. And never mind the squats and crunches. Eat what you like. Exercise when you feel like it. It doesn’t matter if your stomach is flat or your ass curvy. Nobody cares if you have cellulite on your thighs or upper-arm wobble. Everyone on the beach will be too busy holding their own tummies in to bother about your wobbly bits. Enjoy the feel of the sand under your feet, the splash of the waves on your non-exfoliated body, the warmth of the sun on your back, and have another beer.
• Don’t bother with careful folding and inserting tissue paper (see above) between your clothes. Throw them all in that suitcase and let the law of physics do their worst. Yes, your clothes will be wrinkled at the other end. But you are on holiday. Nobody is judging you by the crease on your linen trousers. (And those who are need their heads examined, anyway.) Embrace the crumpled, lived-in look and make it your own. Life is too short to carry a travel iron or steam your clothes surreptitiously in the shower.
• Shopping for a ‘new holiday wardrobe’? You have to be kidding. The thing about being on holiday is that nobody knows what your ‘old holiday wardrobe’ looks like. They have never seen you before, let alone your tried-and-tested one-piece swimsuit and floral chiffon dress. If there is any place where you can recycle your old clothes, it is on holiday. Added benefit: you won’t care if you spill red wine or tomato sauce on your clothes (as you inevitably will).
• No, you don’t need ‘comfortable flats’ for the day, ‘sparkly shoes’ for the evening, ‘one pair of heels’ when you go to fancy restaurants, and ‘sneakers for the flight’. Or, for that matter, endless quantities of costume jewellery to ‘brighten up your outfit’, ‘scarves that can double as sarongs’, and a ‘day bag’ and a ‘night bag’. You are going on holiday, not participating in a fashion face-off. The only thing you absolutely must pack is a sense of adventure. The rest is strictly optional.
• Did you say ‘detox’? As in giving up all food groups (not to mention the will to live) and embracing the ‘goodness of vegetable juice’ so that you are fighting fit for your holiday? Don’t be so silly. The only detox you need this season is from glossy magazines and their fatuous advice. For the rest, drink up, eat well and be merry. For tomorrow, you go on holiday!