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How to pace your holiday well

Lobster nets on Iona
When I was around ten years old I went on a holiday that was so great that I was really sad when I got home. After that I was determined never to be so sad again. As time goes by previous holidays are beginning to fade into a kind of blur. What is getting better though is that I am getting better at pacing my expectations of the way the holiday goes.

There are three phases to the holiday.

1. Wind-down

This is where you gradually wind-down from the normal pace of life. This really can’t happen until you’ve had at least 24 hours somewhere, so you can get used to the rhythms and routines of your holiday destination. If you’re like me you may find yourself worrying and checking to see how wound down you are. Of course, getting wound up about winding down is self-defeating.

As well as getting used to your location there may also be getting used to the people you are spending holiday with. They may be your nuclear family who you see at evenings and weekends, or it may be extended family or friends. In either case the normal dynamics of the relationships are going to be tested by being with each other most of the day. This first phase is where this shakes down, and you discover more about each other.With the nuclear family, the fact that you were away together a year ago is no guarantee that things will be the same this year as everyone has been changing, particularly with the children.

2. Halcyon days

Eventually you will have wound down as much as you are probably going to and so the days stretch out.If you’re not even thinking much about the fact you’re on holiday then you’re doing well.

You may wish that life were always like this, but think what it would be like if it really were. The shortcomings of the place you’re staying at would really make themselves felt. You can put up with a lumpy bed for a week, but after a month you would really want to buy a new one.

Once you’d visited all the places nearby, poked around all the ruins and museums, toddled round all the shops there would be nothing else to do but to hang around your holiday accommodation where there is in fact probably not that much to do. The local TV may be in a language you don’t understand that well. You’d have read all of the non-cheesy paperbacks and couldn’t really face the rest. You wouldn’t really want that.

So just don’t think about it.

3. The end approaches

In the recently released book Afterliff by John Lloyd and John Canter, (a dictionary which uses place names to define concepts which otherwise don’t have a have a word to cover them), there is a word that covers this: Ebberston. This is defined as “The latter part of the holiday, when time seems to speed up”. By the time you get to this phase all you can really do is make the most of every moment.


What can you do afterward it’s all over though? Spend a few minutes before you go to sleep being grateful for being in your own bed and think back to the holiday. Maybe you’ll dream about it…


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