Ethan Shone 5th April 2018
Ahhhh, the summer holiday.
You’ve put in the work all year – more or less – and this is your time to enjoy yourself, relax and rejuvenate, before you’re thrown headfirst once again, back into the hellscape of day-to-day life in modern Britain.
For those of us fortunate enough to be able to take some time out and flee the rat-race, the choices are more or less endless, so why do we always seem to end up doing basically the same thing?
Sunshine, beach, a good book maybe, and a bottomless sea of mis-measured cocktails, somewhere in the Mediterranean, probably Spain, or one of those many seemingly interchangeable islands that belong to Spain, anyway.
If that’s what you fancy then by all means, go for it. But what’s to do when you’re fed up of the standard fare? When the formulaic routine of breakfast/pool/lunch/pool/dinner/cocktails, just doesn’t really appeal anymore? A whole world of possibilities is out there — quite literally — so there are no shortage of potential alternatives, but where to start?
The adventure holiday
At the risk of sounding like an inspo-travel meme that your mate who spent 12 days in Thailand and “found herself” might post on Instagram, travelling to far-flung corners of the world and experiencing other cultures really does open our up our minds and help us to see the world in a more full way. It helps us to put our own lives into context and reminds us not to take things for granted. It’s also often a really good laugh, a way to meet great people and, if done right, can be pretty inexpensive too.
The great thing about this option is that, in this context, the word adventure means more or less whatever you want. Whether your idea of adventure is making your way across Eastern Europe one dive bar at a time, or trekking through in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest, that’s totally fine; each to their own.
After destination, maybe the most important factor in making sure your adventure is a good one, is your choice of company. Going it alone is one option – though this isn’t for the faint-hearted, or the uninitiated – going with friends is probably better, but one of the most popular options is to book onto a group adventure holiday, with a small group of similarly minded strangers. Not only do these groups mean you’re more likely to make friends, but you’ll often also have the benefit of a local guide and their invaluable know-how, as well as an expertly-planned trip.
Our travel tips? Japan is very hot right now, and destinations like Cambodia, Vietnam offer travellers fascinating history, beautiful landscapes and a slightly less commercialised experience than other nearby hotspots *cough* Thailand *cough*. Flights to Southeast Asia can be as cheap as £300 depending on where you fly from and, once you’re there, things like food and accommodation are far cheaper than Europe.
Maybe you’ve never really considered a cruise for your summer getaway. Prevailing logic suggests that the age-spread on your average cruise-liner is similar to that of your standard mid-day session at Mecca Bingo, but that’s far from the truth. The average age of the British Cruise customer is 46, and that lowers considerably on cruises aimed at a younger audience – duh.
Whether as a reaction to this fact, or perhaps as an explanation for it, the vast majority of cruise operators now cater to younger audiences on their main packages, as well as offering dedicated 18-30 style cruises for those who really can’t bear the thought of being around anyone who clearly remembers the early ’90s.
The range of cruises available is ever-growing, with more and more specialist cruises operating not only to serve specific age groups , but even interest groups, including cruises that are essentialy wild, music festival-style events aboard enormous luxurious cruise liners. The idea of braving festival toilets and burger vans suddenly seems absolutely unacceptable when compared with a load of artists and performers aboard what is essentially a floating 5-star resort, complete with daytime stopovers in cool destinations.
Take, for example, the Back to the ’80s Cruise run by Caribbean Cruises, a 10-day jaunt from Portsmouth to Lisbon, with stopovers in Bilbao and Vigo, which boasts performances from veritable icons like Belinda Carlisle, Tony Hadley and Kim Wilde, plus themed parties and a number of group activities. Add to this the nine restaurants, seven bars, three swimming pools, theatre, spa, climbing wall and art gallery all situated aboard this floating resort and you can see why more and more people are opting for cruises like this one instead of more traditional holiday options.
The walking holiday
Look, bear with me, alright? I know that for some of us, the words “walking” and “holiday” are more or less antonyms, but there’s something to be said for being active, getting some fresh-air in your lungs and admiring some beautiful scenery while you’re at it. I mean, if you want, you can get in whatever your preferred state is after you’ve done some walking, or even during. Go nuts, I say.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be a long, or a hard walk. If you’re not much of an outdoorsman it really doesn’t matter, though you might surprise yourself at how much ground you’re happy to cover when you’re surrounded by glorious landscapes and there’s a cosy, firelit pub waiting at the end of the trail. The point is being outdoors and enjoying the benefits that brings.
A walking holiday offers for many, a much more real sense of rejuvenation – mentally and physically – than your typical holiday. It’s all breath-taking views and the majesty of nature and fresh air in your lungs. Good for the soul, man. Walking also offers plenty of time for reflection and thought; an opportunity to re-centre your mind, or whatever.
Chances are, your little rambling retreat will be much easier on the old wallet than a Mediterranean getaway, too. And if you opt to stroll around somewhere in beautiful blighty instead of jetting off, which you definitely should, then you’re doing the environment a favour too – from what I’ve heard, planes aren’t the most eco-friendly mode of transport. Everyone’s a winner.
The Scottish highlands offer a number of breath-taking strolls for walkers of all experience levels, as do a number of other areas dotted around the country, though perhaps some of the most accessible and joyous countryside wanders can be had down the road from The Overtake’s bunker in God’s own county, Yorkshire.
Si’ thi’ ont’ dales r kid!
Ethan Shone 5th April 2018