Guilt and Travel

Guilt and Travel

Sounds like the name of a post-modernist novel, doesn’t it? It’s not. Instead, it’s the way I sometimes feel whenever I go on holiday. I don’t go on many – for some reason, I don’t get around to it with the regularity of some of my friends, but when I do, they’re pretty big. Often, like my most recent trip to California, they’re linked with work – so if I have a conference in San Diego,  we’ll get there a bit early or stay a bit late. Benefits of having a job with conferences, I guess. Anyway, that’s not the point. Inevitably, when I return, you have to make it through the gruelling run of questions about the holiday. What was good? What was the food like? How was the flight? Did you go and see this? Did you do that? I don’t mind the first three or four, but after saying the same things to twenty different people, even my patience is beginning to run dry.

It’s that last couple of questions that get me. People start asking if I did this or that – all the kinds of things that they would have done had they been on holiday. Sometimes, we haven’t done it – and when I tell people that, they then  look at you as if there is something a little bit wrong with you. As if you’re crazy, because you travelled all that distance and you refuse to go and do those things. Often, I end up with a vague feeling of guilt because I didn’t do those things.

It’s silly, isn’t it? The reality is that I’m okay with how we do holidays. It’s all a little bit off-the-cuff. I know some people who schedule their holidays to within an inch of their lives. Every spare moment – right down to sleeping – is pinned down between specific times, all in an effort to get everything possible from their time away. Fair enough. I’m not judging. I just think it’s important to realise that that approach is not for everyone. I much prefer to arrive somewhere, and then have a wander. To sit in a park and read a book. To find a pub or a bar, and have a chat with the locals. Heck, to sleep in or to lounge by the pool.