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True Holidays

Florence Lefebvre

It has been busy on the holiday front especially with the Olympics which encouraged quite a few Londoners to flee the country to sunnier shores despite an incredibly smooth fortnight as we now know. Oh and of course, we have not exactly been blessed with a summer worthy of the name…

What actually makes a good holiday?

Once you have planned the practical details of the destination, the company you will be keeping and worked out your budget, what are the things to do or not to do to ensure you will have a good time?

First of all, as essential as it might be to plan your trip to a certain extent to avoid being caught out and having to sleep in your rented car - some places get insanely busy! - allow yourself to be light-hearted, spontaneous and leave room for the unexpected. A positive attitude from the start will drastically transform your holiday experience.

If you have opted for a flight, you might be tested right at the airport. Your plane might be delayed - admittedly, this is terribly annoying, but there is nothing you can do about it - so use this time to catch up with your friends if travelling in a group or get yourself a good book or magazine and treat yourself to a nice cooling drink in summer or a warm drink in winter. Try to stay clear of caffeine and sugar which could make you feel restless or anxious, something you could do without at this point.

Once in the plane, improve the quality of your journey by spraying some rose water on your face or use face cream to keep your skin hydrated and of course, drink plenty of water. Free alcohol on flights with major airlines is tempting, but you know it, it will make you even more dehydrated. Oh and while we are on the subject, apparently your body metabolizes alcohol in exactly the same way whether you are at sea level or at 30,000 feet. So no, altitude does not make you drunk faster…!

When you are done with the commuting, adapt straight away to the time zone you are in and give yourself some time to unwind and take the new atmosphere in. Also if you are in a foreign country where the food is very different from back home, help your body out by swapping big meals for smaller portions on a more regular basis. It will give it a chance to adapt and will prevent the sluggish feeling that can come with a change in diet.

As for the rest, stay open, be ready for new encounters and situations. On that note, learning a few basic words in the language of the country you are visiting is always much appreciated, so get yourself a pocket book and practice before flying out. You will be amazed at how much friendlier people get when you make the effort.

Try sticking your map in your pocket every now and again and let your feet take you wherever they fancy. It is the best way to find hidden treasures: fountains, courtyards, beautiful facades, a cool graffiti or a lovely café.

Walking around a city not knowing exactly where I am is one of my favourite things! Which is just as well given my poor sense of direction…

So next time, reconnect with a lightness of being and a sense of freedom, and enjoy a true holiday!

- Park Güell in Barcelona -