Published in Choice Magazine – 1st July 2002
DOS AND DON’TS
Get accommodation if possible with a spare bed or bedroom, or a usable sofa. Sleeping habits vary a lot. Some people want to go to bed with the dusk; some with the dawn. Some like hard mattresses; some prefer goosedown. Some want windows wide and a gale blowing; others like a 75 degree fug. Providing space to retreat at night can be very important.If, for instance, you are four and want to hire a boat, ask for a six-berther.
Allow two or three days at the beginning of the holiday for adjustment, acclimatisation and the odd row. Travel is exhausting. Many people work too hard. When they get on holiday need to recover their temper before they can come out to play.
Keep an open mind about food. If sleep can be a problem, diet can be a nightmare. Remember, some people have meals; others just graze on fingerfood. Some hate meat, onions, spice, garlic, fat, fish, wheat, bread, dairy, alcohol and some NEVER combine protein with carbohydrate. Negotiate the ingredients in advance, or stick to restaurants. Setting the daily agenda can be fraught with danger.
People divide into ‘controllers’ and ‘passengers’, those who make plans and those who drift. [Some passengers try to control things anyway just by being constantly negative]. So it’s a good idea to offer options: “If you all want to go to the Cathedral this morning, we can. If you want to swim instead, that’s fine. Anne and I are going to go sightseeing anyway. Then we’ll swim at 5.00. Do you want to come with us or not?’
Don’t be overly-critical of your holiday companions. If on closer acquaintance you find they have tricky habits, like suddenly becoming more British than the British just because they are abroad, overlook it. They are possibly nervous travellers. Many of us get suddenly patriotic and nostalgic on foreign soil. Much better to say how much you are enjoying their company whenever things go well.
Many Britons cannot handle alcohol mixed with sun. So if you find your best friend snogging your husband after an ill-advised second jug of Sangria, blame the booze, the sun, the old man and your friend in that order. She probably does not fancy him half as much when she’s sober. The real secret of holiday success is ‘live and let live’.
Don’t get over stressed through a lack of proper financial planning for your holiday. For example Richard Patterson, editor of mobile website www.sim-only.co.uk explained how one couple came close to divorce over a £2,000 + data bill racked up on the husband’s iPhone whilst downloading Match of the Day in St Lucia. The scenario could have easily been avoided by purchasing a local SIM card at the airport.