This summer, I committed the cardinal sin of travelling: I relaxed. Yup, I sacked off a day trip to another country, sea kayaking and a cycling tour for unadulterated relaxation. I’m still carrying the guilt a month later.
Hierarchy of travellers
The last decade has seen a huge shift in the status and significance of travel. Once, it was enough to spend a fortnight sunning yourself in a Spanish resort before returning to your daily life in Blighty. Then, the gap year emerged and saw career-dismayed graduates heading off to remote parts of Africa and Asia to find themselves while helping a village build a well.
As the price of education grew at the same speed as employment opportunities fell, more and more people – students and those weary of the rat race – chose to embark on adventures across Europe or further afield. Low-cost airlines made getting there easier and cheaper, and travel became accessible to more of us than ever before.
By the 2010s it was no longer cool to go on holiday or be a tourist. To do this properly, you must be a “traveller” not a mere holidaymaker. Travellers sought out authentic culture, went off the beaten track and only consumed local fare. They stayed in hostels, sofa surfed and carried their earthly possessions in a backpack. They blogged and filtered every detail of their trip through Instagram.
I’m as guilty as anyone for falling into this trap. I evolved from a holidaymaker to a self-professed traveller after a 20-day trip around Europe and have never looked back. Although my subsequent travels have been consigned to Europe (due to Stephen’s student budget!) and have been more budget hotel than backpack, I’ve explored unique corners of the continent and have numerous trips every year to satiate my thirst for adventure.
That thirst drives me to experience as much as possible while I’m away. I usually cram so much into a trip that I need a holiday (that dreaded word!) afterwards to rest my weary feet. Walking miles, visiting countless historic locations, ticking off must-see sites and browsing cultural venues is all part of a packed city break or summer trip.
That was until I went to Croatia this summer…
The Croatia effect
We visited Croatia in June, staying in a resort called Cavtat which is just outside of Dubrovnik. We planned to visit the walled city a few times, take part in some sea kayaking, take a day trip to neighbouring Montenegro and do a bike/wine tasting tour (in that order – wine tasting then bike riding would not work!).
However, we managed to only tick off two trips to Dubrovnik from this list. Whether it was the five-star luxury of our hotel (our first – it was amazing), the baking heat, the comfy sun loungers or the sheer exhaustion we carried there (Stephen had just completed his social work degree and I had a manic few months at work), we stole away three full days at the beach.
Three days! That has never been known since I was a kid and spent the days building sandcastles.
I felt guilty. I had let my inner traveller down. All of this beautiful scenery was on the doorstep and I hadn’t visited it. I completed no activities. Other countries were not explored. The shame!
What I did do, though (alongside reading a load of books), was learn not to be so tough on myself. Sometimes you just need to relax. Life is manic and travel is a great antidote to the real world.
But, experiencing a country from the comfort of a sun lounger doesn’t mean you’re a travel traitor. It just means you need a rest.
I’m off to Prague in two weeks for a four-day city break packed with activities to atone for my sins.