Travel can be, often is, and should be more than just a way of interrupting the nine-to-five. In this post-lockdown world, where many of us are now accustomed to striking a new balance between work and home, this has never been more acute. It’s become increasingly difficult to separate place and space – that is, the workplace and home. Start and finish times have grown mirky in the vaguery of hastily scheduled zoom calls, last-minute phone conversations and unsolicited out-of-hours text messages. Flexible working has astounding benefits, but these drawbacks aren’t without weight. And in this new world of working, compounded by health anxiety, rising costs and climate consciousness, it’s increasingly easy to let the simple beauty of leaving the front door and going somewhere get lost in all the noise. For this very reason it’s never been more timely to recognise how important a holiday can be.
New ways of working
Flexible working can easily blur the lines between work and relaxation. There’s a huge trend for working away – that is spending weeks abroad but still working each day from your hotel room. Now slogging it out on some sun-kissed island where the cocktails flow from 8pm isn’t the worst thing in the world, but be ever mindful of whether that is truly offering the rest you deserve and need. And that’s even if you take your leave – there’s a worrying trend that workers aren’t using up their annual leave entitlement.
(This image shouldn’t be normalised)
Cold, hard facts
Good health requires good downtime.
A look at the stats makes this argument succinctly: a study by Dr B Hruska at Syracuse University NY found that going on holiday was found to reduce metabolic symptoms – unchecked, they can go on to cause cardiovascular disease. Then there’s that glorious vice, sleep. New Zealand Air ran a study that showed participants gaining an hour more of quality sleep plus an 80% improvement in reaction times after just a short break. The benefits lasted for some time after the holiday too.
The health benefits of simply planning that break are also documented. It appears proven that wanderlust, the anticipation of an upcoming holiday, has a positive impact on mental health. Even more interesting is that in the weeks and days before you’re off, the daily stresses of life take less of a toll – your heart rate levels out and your ability to cope will improve.
Then there’s the creative benefits of being abroad. A study by Adam Galinsky, professor and chair of the management division at Columbia Business School, draws intriguing links between creativity and travel: “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms”. It found that those who engaged with cultures foreign to their own showed more signs of creativity and creative thought in their work.
Within a work realm, research even indicates that taking your holiday can contribute to the likelihood of payrises and promotions, if ever you needed more reason to book that break. The goal here is to really, truly cut off – out of office means out of office.
(Lockdown, heatwaves and fish n chips – to be remembered fondly.)
So where to go…
We spent our lockdowns exploring Britain’s extremities, its gems, its flaws: the simple beauty of our rolling countryside and the questionable public conveniences, the potholed roads and the glossy service stations. It was all 99s and sandcastles again, for a time. Of course, the appetite for foreign travel was huge post lockdown, but as things settle in to 2023, there’s a clutch of new challenges to face.
It’s a reality that the world of travel has changed. Airlines are still recovering from the pandemic and adjusting to the fact that more travellers are considering the ethics of flying – this means increased fares and pre-pandemic routes poofing into non existence. Cost of living rising exponentially means less spending power for consumers, and higher prices all round – there’s no shortage of demand, it’s just those with the fat wallets get top pick. And then there’s the ever present toll of social media envy to contend with.
So where does that leave things? Well, with a surprising amount of choices. The way we holiday is changing, and trends forecast for this year show that when destination is no longer the primary concern, the type of travel and experience certainly is. Even just two hours in nature, though not a holiday in its own right, has remarkable benefits according to a recent study. From slow travel to soft adventure, more and more we’re seeing demand for new ways to holiday.
So it doesn’t matter one single bit where you go, nor what you do.
You don’t need to fly across the world or stay in the most luxurious of hotels.
You just need to take some time to recharge. Whether that’s finding a wild swimming spot for a dip, taking to the trails for a walking holiday, or spending a weekend soaking up some culture on a city break, get creative and put yourself, and your health, first.