Tony Wheeler: A change is as good as a rest... or is it?


As holidaymakers we arrive back home tanned, tired and with credit card bills to be faced. But hopefully we're relaxed, rejuvenated and, if we've had an active holiday and not overdone the food consumption, perhaps a few pounds lighter.

Who knows? If it's been stress-free and our red wine consumption has been sufficient, but not excessive, we may even be measurably fitter.

Or it could have all gone wrong at the last minute. The final hotel bill is a confused mess. (We ate out on the last night so have you charged us for dinner? Whose laundry charge is this anyway? And no, I definitely did not take advantage of your expensive honour bar.)

Why on earth do we do it? After all, the stresses start long before the outbound journey. It isn't just the Indians, the Russians or various African countries that compete for the most annoying visa application award – even the Americans, with their incomprehensible visa-waiver website, are in on the game. Then there's the hotel booking site which crashes right at the last step, the airline site which makes an extra charge for the privilege of paying by plastic, but offers no alternative method of payment. And one day there'll be a Nobel prize for economics bestowed on the genius who deciphers the model rent-a-car companies use for their rates.

There's the inevitable chaos at the airport security line-up. Why on earth don't they ask any of the supermarket chains how to process a queue in a fuss-free manner? Of course, the flight's delayed. And once you're in the air an officious flight attendant demands that you pull your window blind down when the view outside is spectacular, just because most people want to watch some dreadful movie which failed in the cinemas.

Inevitably, when you finally arrive at your destination, the immigration department will have decided to model their customer service on JFK, Miami or LA International rather than Changi airport.

The journey home is equally fraught, but without even the reward of a holiday to look forward to. The taxi driver thinks he's Lewis Hamilton, but on one of his really bad days. You have a lousy meal on board. The queues at immigration at Heathrow are endless and it takes a lifetime for the bags to come through. It could be worse – at least the luggage turned up in the end – but if the ticket collector on the Heathrow Express measured passengers' blood pressure the results would be shocking.

Throw in restaurant meals which you could easily cook better at home, hotel Wi-Fi charges which border on extortion, that light which you cannot turn off despite trying every possible permutation of the hotel room's switches and you begin to wonder why the word "holiday" even exists.

Yet, somehow, even bad trips are fun. Lately, even bad places seem worth a visit. A week home and already I'm getting itchy feet. Or I will as soon as my lost bag turns up.

Tony Wheeler is co-founder of Lonely Planet travel guides

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits