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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer - £30,000 OTE Uncapped

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines