I think, or I hope, that everyone has been on at least one package holiday abroad, possibly to Spain or the Canary Islands. My last one was about seven years ago but going by the comments of some friends who recently went on one, they haven’t changed one bit.
Whether you are an adult or a child, the excitement in the build up to a holiday is exactly the same. It may not seem like it, but adults are just as excited as the kids – they just have more things to do to distract them from that excitement. And of course it all starts with the anticipation…the counting down the days to the big day…
Because it’s a package holiday, it’s a bit cheaper than other holidays so your travel times will be a bit anti-social and well, your travel companions probably will too.
You are never so happy to wake up at two in the morning, taking one last look around at all the windows in the estate and all the suckers that will wake up in Waterford the next morning, instead of sunny Majorca. So it’s into the car for the drive to the airport, in the pitch dark, in order to make that 5am check in.
For some people, airports are a way of life. They commute in and out of countries every week and they probably have nightmares about all the terminals they have been trapped in. But, for most people going on a package holiday, an airport is something they see only a couple of times a year. To kids, it may as well be Disney World. You’ve stood in the queue, you’ve told the lady that you packed the bag yourself, you lost your four year old temporarily (and then found him on the luggage carousel), you’ve had that brief moment of panic when you thought you forgot your passport, and now finally, you’re in the departure lounge. Is it too early to have a Mcdonalds? Nah. A Pint? Nah – sure your man over there is having one.
And then there’s the plane…the Futura plane, which looks a bit like a Kenneally’s bus. Most people are slightly afraid of flying, they’ll say they’re okay but if there’s a moment of turbulence on that plane, they’ll be on their hands and knees saying a decade of the rosary. You buy a pair of headphones, you watch happy feet, you read through the magazine and contemplate buying a miniature Futura plane, you eat some scrambled eggs and a horrible muffin and then someone offers you a sucky sweet from a basket. Does sucking a sweet prevent your ears from popping? If it did you wouldn’t see 100 pale Irish people getting off a plane sticking their fingers in their ears and shaking their heads about. Oh, I didn’t mention the clapping. But yeah, people still clap when a plane finishes its journey without breaking in half or plummeting into an ocean. I think people are afraid to stop that tradition, just in case that’s what keeps the plane in the air.
So it’s on to your bus and time for a game of Hotel Roulette. This is a worrying time for any holiday maker. Firstly, you don’t want to get off the bus to your half-finished hotel leaving whispers of “Thank God that’s not ours” behind you. Secondly, you will be crossing your fingers that the loud family from Tallaght are not at your hotel. It’s a worrying game of Russian roulette. Also, don’t forget to listen to the tour rep at the front of the bus telling you that it was in the mid 30s last week so cover yourselves in layers of cream. And don’t forget the welcome meeting tomorrow morning at 11am.
And then it’s just you and your family again. Throughout the next week or two weeks you will see people that you recognise from the airport but you’ll only give them a knowing nod. You’ll also meet people from home and even though you wouldn’t give them the time of day in Waterford, they will become your best friend in Spain. You’ll arrange to go for dinner with them…maybe even an excursion…but that won’t happen.
Besides all of that, almost everyone’s holiday will be the same. Get up around 9-10, have a bowl of cereal on the balcony, get your towel down at the pool nice and early and read your first book for about ten years sprawled out beside the pool. There will always be some members of the family who will need to sleep in the afternoon and others who will want to go for a walk and see what the resort has to offer. They’ll come back from that walk as if they have lived in Spain all their lives.
At night, if it’s a nice family holiday you’re on; you’ll go for a smack up meal and wonder why it costs the same as at home. And then you’ll go to Bingo, and then Karaoke, and then Murphys because even though you’re only away from home 24 hours, it’s nice to have a “little taste of home” – “Are ye showing the Munster Final on Sunday?”
Ok I want to go on a holiday now…