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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test