amw (amw) wrote,

how people holiday

Working in a tech company there are always dozens of screens around the office showing dashboards full of cryptic charts and gauges that we use to monitor the systems. You all know that from TV. But we also also have screens that pop up informational messages and corporate propaganda. In this company those screens include realtime customer feedback and social media mentions - good and bad.

My new employer is a B2C travel company, which means our customers are people just like you, dear reader. The interesting thing, as i read your comments, is the insight into what is really important to people when they travel.

The vast majority of feedback is from people either thanking us for helping them find an affordable holiday, or telling us we should do a better job showing "hidden fees" like hotel taxes or baggage costs. The angriest people are upset because whatever unexpected event knocked time off their stay or cost them more money than they anticipated.

People get so uptight about money.

I have to remind myself that a lot of people have to search through the couch for change at the end of each month. It's hard for me to deeply understand that, not because i haven't been poor, but because most of my life i have gone to great lengths never to do anything that approaches the limit of my budget. I live with less now than i did as a teenager. My rent is cheap. Everything i buy is cheap. My current salary could be slashed in half, and then in half again, and my lifestyle would continue unchanged.

That makes me sound totally out of touch, a fount of privilege. Which is true, i suppose.

Anyway, i'm on a tangent. The point is that it's interesting how different people approach holidays, and traveling in general.

I don't go anywhere on holiday that is expensive, because it is expensive. I have missed flights or ended up in towns with no hotels and then had to pay a hefty premium to continue... but i could afford to because i factored misfortune into my decision of where to go in the first place. Of course it irks me when i get hit with an unexpected cost or a redirected itinerary, but i keep calm and carry on.

There have been several times - even just in the past few years - where i ostensibly went on holiday to relax and sit on the beach, but then when i got to wherever it was i ended up spending most of my time walking around hungover and hungry, searching for sustenance in unlikely spaces, far from the blissful seaside. And somehow i still enjoyed that.

I would like to be that person who is happy to take a flight wherever and shuttle direct from the airport to the resort without the slightest care of what is going on in the country outside. I would like to be able to just sit on a deck chair and drink out of a coconut for two weeks. It disappoints me that i can't. I get itchy feet. I walk around aimlessly. I get stuck in a dead-end town, lost and alone. Then i wish i had just stayed on the beach. But i keep doing it to myself, every time.

A part of me must like being uncomfortable and miserable when traveling. Or, at least, i certainly expect to be. It took me a week for my back to un-fuck itself from the human origami of taking the overnight bus to Glasgow. Still, as the rest of my trip fades, i clearly retain the memory of getting off that bus, aching and bleary-eyed. So many of my memories are of the places in between and the emotions i felt there. Stuck, delayed, hemmed in, worn out, looking at the people, looking at the horizon. Those were the best parts.
Tags: freedom, simple living, travel

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