My OH and I have just come back from our summer holiday (Vacation for you from “over the pond”) in delightful Venice, Italy, but unfortunately it wasn’t EVERYTHING I (we) could have hoped for – BUT – this was definitely down to us and not to the city, with the exception, perhaps, of the weather which was very, very hot!
On our return, and indeed, whilst we were there, we had begun to consider what were the issues causing the “problems”. Why were we not really enjoying ourselves for the last 2 or 3 days of the trip and what could we have done better?
I hadn’t forgotten anything in the packing (I’m a bit of a stickler for being planned in advance!) and we had a schedule of places to see/go before we even arrived, so it wasn’t as if we were just wondering around lost in a city we had never been to. I had a smattering of Italian and could make myself understood, so that wasn’t an issue. It was just that, after about day 4, we seemed to start having little arguments over petty things, felt a bit rushed and were starting to take it out on each other.
Oh, and the heat was definitely not helping!
So, we took a morning off on day 5 and just sat in our AirBNB watching Netflix until we’d had some lunch and then went out.
It had dawned on us that part of our (read MY) problem was being organised – having booked the tickets for all the places we had wanted to see (St Marks Basilica, Leonardo DaVinci Museum, Doges Palace etc) which enabled us to “Skip the line” at all these places and cut the time it took to see them, in many instances by half, and when visiting those places which didn’t offer online tickets, only spending a couple of hours maximum, we had effectively compressed everything in to 4 days – unfortunately we had 7! Not only this, rather than just walking around and just letting the streets be our guide, we had rushed from place to place using the evil which is Google Maps (I love GM but in this one instance it is a hindrance rather than a help)
We had, to put it mildly, not been fair to Venice.
We should have known better, to be honest, as we’ve made similar mistakes before, in both Paris (last year) and Copenhagen (3 years ago) but do not seem to have learned from our errors! Holidays in these cities have both ended with my OH and I not really enjoying them – not getting anything out of the trip other than empty pockets and regrets. And now I’m adding Venice to this list.
Which is a bit sad.
But so that this isn’t the miserable type of post which I hate, I’ll sum up with my key takeaways on how not to do holidays when (on those rare occasions) you can just do a holiday with just the adults:
- Don’t beat yourself up about going by yourselves/on your own! – This is really important and took me several tries to get right, the children are being looked after by people who love them (I assume) and you/both need time to heal, grown and remember what it means to be an adult human being.
- Plan your time whilst you’re away, by all means, just make sure that you give yourself time for exploring and downtime – Don’t rush!!! Spread visits, tours, trips across the days you have and don’t try to get everything done as soon as you arrive otherwise you’ll find yourself in the same place as I did, with time to spare and nothing to do but bicker!
- If you haven’t used one before, consider booking an AirBNB – You’ll be amazed at the range of options, locations and the savings you can make over the cost of a hotel/B&B, especially in any of the major cities. Plus, if you opt for taking “the whole house” you’ll have space to relax in whenever you just don’t fancy going out.
- If there are 2 of you, give each other the space you need to spend some time by yourselves (if you want it) – Frequently couples have spent next to no time at all together whilst at home and see a holiday as the perfect opportunity to be together. But, whilst the chance to spend quality time together as adults is very precious, it is also lovely to have just a few hours (if the individuals want it) by yourself, wandering around a place doing something the other one doesn’t want to. Just a thought.
- Make sure you aren’t tempted to buy everyone back home a “present” from your trip – a small token for those who have been taking care of the children (if appropriate) is fine, but don’t be fooled into carrying back masses of tourist tat! It does nothing for the local economy really as there are generally so many tourist tat shops that the effect is watered down (There are ALWAYS exceptions to this so feel free to break this rule where you can see it will make a difference) and prices for these kinds of items are massively inflated considering they are generally mass-produced and imported from Asia (ironic isn’t it?)
I hope these are useful. We will certainly be rethinking our holiday planning for next year and being more mindful of how we actively go on our trips.
The ultimate goal? To have a memorable, happy and enlightening trip with my OH anywhere we chose to visit.