Permission To Relax And Do Nothing On Holiday

Permission to relax and do nothing on holiday, a blog post by Helen Perry, Not About The Kids

We’re just back from a week in Jamaica. The only bit of the island I saw during this holiday was the road between the airport and the hotel, and the half-mile stretch of coast I could see from my sunbed. There was a time when I would have started that sentence “I’m ashamed to say that the only bit of the island I saw….”. I would have been quite sniffy about the kind of tourist who makes no effort whatsoever to immerse themselves in a cultural and enriching travel experience. But I’ve had an epiphany. I think it’s possible that I’ve been getting holidays a bit wrong. You know, missing the point entirely.

Guidebook guru

In the past, just as soon as the flights and accommodation are booked, I have logged straight on to Amazon to order a guidebook. Then, I’d plan out all of the things that we ought to see if we are visiting a new country. As a result, here are just a few examples of the kind of (disastrous) excursions I have planned on recent family holidays.

Permission to relax and do nothing on holiday, a blog post by Helen Perry, Not About The Kids

If you are a ‘doer’, you might find this a good read too

Sardina 2015 

What a gorgeous island, and we’ve been twice. On our first trip, I insisted that we hire a tiny Fiat 500 convertible in order drive along one of Italy’s most stunning coastal roads, the Strada Panoramica Della Costa del Sud. Doesn’t it sound beautiful? It is. But have you ever driven on a winding Italian coastal road? Take it from me the travel sickness sets in fast. It’s an experience that is memorable mostly for its frequent vomiting and toilet stops.

Jamaica 2016

The Perry family in the Carribean en masse to celebrate my father in laws birthday. I know, let’s try some watersports. I organised for myself and my (at the time) 7-year-old daughter to go on a (what I expected to be) light-hearted snorkelling adventure. Oh no no no. It was terrifying. We sailed out to a reef, in deep deep deep water. It became obvious that there was absolutely NO WAY Francesca was going to get in the sea. It was so choppy that another dad on the trip became violently ill (when he was snorkelling, did you know that you can get seasickness IN the water? ). F is now mortally terrified of boats and the sea.

Permission to relax and do nothing on holiday, a blog post by Helen Perry, Not About The Kids

Las Vegas 2017

To the USA to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. Suffering from an irrational (maybe not that irrational) fear of helicopters and light aircraft I again hired a car for this excursion. I know that this is not news to most, but North America is really big. It took hours and hours to drive there and back, we spent a whole day of a long weekend in the car. We argued about where to find petrol, and what to do if we didn’t. And when we reached the Matthew‘big hole in the ground’ we couldn’t find any food. None at all. Starved all day. How we laughed.

Sardinia 2017

This time, I insisted upon booking us a multi-centre holiday so that we could ‘see some more of the island’. Day 2, and I decided that we needed to get a boat to the beautiful Madalena Islands. So I tore the kids away from the pool to navigate the excruciating stress of an Italian ferry terminal. Off we all went and then had a huge argument out on the return crossing because in my view ‘no one looks like they are enjoying themselves‘. The real crowning triumph of that trip was the drive from north to south with my son being violently ill (another Italian road) and me having to sit on his sicky seat so that he could travel up front to try and control the vomiting.

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Happy holiday

I jest. We had great times on all of these trips, but we would still have had a great time (better time?) if I’d have just let us be. If I’d just allowed total relaxation to unfold. You see, as far as the rest of the family were concerned none of these outings was welcome or necessary. They were only going along with it for me. And was I really enjoying myself, or just fulfilling a need to see myself as someone who is interested and cultured and goes to places to learn about them?

Permission to relax and do nothing on holiday, a blog post by Helen Perry, Not About The Kids

Jamaica 2018 where I finally found my chill

And relax

So I am letting us all off the hook. Holidays and sightseeing and adventuring don’t have to go hand in hand. Going away from home and doing nothing at all but spending time together, having a break from the usual routine, and getting stuck into a book can be the whole point.

We can still do day trips or city breaks or cultural outings, but plotting and organising and jumping in and out of cars doesn’t need to be part of our holiday plans. For a couple of weeks a year, if we are lucky enough, we can take a break from the whole damn thing.

Read about our brilliant (and relaxing) trip to Cornwall

How do you holiday, ants in your pants or dedicated to doing nothing? Let’s chat…


What's your View?

14 comments on “Permission To Relax And Do Nothing On Holiday

  1. Heather on

    I’m definitely an ‘ants in your pants’ type, hate the idea of not seeing a place I’m visiting, but have come around to the distinct benefits of doing exactly that, especially with two young kids. We have a week in the Lakes booked in August, so will see how I manage!

  2. Mackenzie on

    I used to be exactly the same as you were for the majority of this post. I’m learning to do half and half though. I’m still a massive culture/ history nerd and love to explore new places but I try to find a happy medium these days.

  3. Scarlett Roitman on

    This made me giggle! But I just can’t do it. I can’t. Which is why there is only one place in the world where I literally sit in a hammock all day and contemplate the view or my navel – and that’s the Maldives. Sadly for my family, I am one of those nightmare travellers who has to do it all. And comes back exhausted. I think my family would like to go away with you next time. Scarlett x

  4. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hey Heather, you have to be who you are, and if you want to sightsee, then sightsee. BUT you don’t have to, you are not a bad person if you don’t, you CAN just spend a few days in a different place doing nothing together. I mean frankly, do we do a great deal of sightseeing when we are at home? Thank you sooo much for reading. Hxxxx

  5. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hey Mackenzie, Matt and I have reached compromise with our August holiday. We are going to do one thing that I want to. Just venture out to one place that isn’t too adventurous. You don’t have children in tow yet, so go climb Everest! xxxx

  6. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    ahhh I have never been to the Maldives Scarlett, but I don’t think that it would take me long to get into the swing of things! You are a doer. So am I. But it’s also ok to chill for a week or two each year. As a novelty 😉 Thanks so much for reading, Hxx

  7. Samantha Nagtegaal on

    Aww Helen, this is brilliant! You are such a fantastic writer ? I heartily agree with you, and have myself been a “why are we just sitting doing nothing? We need to “do stuff” kind of person. Even at the weekends… ? But I’m chilling out a bit lately. What i find most frustrating is when my husband’s sitting there doing nothing; that’s another story ???

  8. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Oh thank you so very much for mentioning my post. I’m really glad that you found it a good read. Big love, Helen x

  9. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Sam that’s so funny, Matt and I used to argue about this a lot especially when the children were young. I simply could not abide him sitting around watching sport on TV when I felt there was so much to be done. I’ve learnt to relax a bit on that front and not expect everyone to prioritise the jobs that I do. He’s just better at chilling out than me, and genuinely enjoys sitting on the sofa!! Thanks for reading, always delighted to see one of your comments. xxx

  10. Lisa deakin on

    So funny Helen!! Glad your recent holiday was a success and you had a well earned chilled out time!! Xx

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