Preparing to travel is stressful. There is the itinerary to sort out. Do the places and activities most highly rated on Trip Advisor fit within my budget? Does your flight path go anywhere near a combat zone? Will the airline be able to accommodate my new diet – that I swear by after seeing some B grade celebrity mention it on my favourite talk show – a diet consisting of just nuts and anything purple. How close to the screaming baby and the person who believes B.O. can be controlled by sheer will power will I be seated?
At work all of the tasks that just seem to bubble along suddenly seem urgent and I end up working overtime just to complete them before I go on leave. The office seems to go into some sort of jealousy fuelled panic, because what if there is a major incident while I am away?
First of all, and this is the most important thing, do not call me. Deal with it.
Secondly, in the history of the job there has never been such a high level incident, ever. Why would my being absent for 7 days increase the likelihood of the first such incident occurring now? It won’t, relax.
Unless I am away for a minimum of 4 weeks I am not preparing detailed handover notes about ever aspect of my work. If there is a piece of work that has a milestone during my 5 days out of the office, I will jot down a couple of lines but I will not need a 1 hour meeting to provide management with a complete handover.
At home things get stressful too. Managing items in the fridge is critical. Consuming the fresh produce to prevent the forming of a compost heap in crisper can be a challenge. Eating it all in combinations that resemble something like a meal. Does cheese, honeydew melon and fennel go together as a topping for a baked potato?
Redirecting the mail, cancelling the paper, getting someone to pet sit all takes time. Then there is the cleaning. My home is never cleaner than the day I leave for a holiday. Benches are tidied and thoroughly cleaned, skirting boards are dusted. The shower, bath and toilet are cleaner than when they were first installed. Towels are laundered Clean sheets are placed on the bed ready for no-one to sleep in. I just go crazy cleaning. I uncoagulated the top of the dishwashing liquid and clean the bottom of the little egg cups. I even clean the little one inch area between the refrigerator and the counter.
If someone breaks into the property, I want them to be impressed.
I never get to enjoy the clean and tidy. As soon as I get back from a holiday, I unpack using a very simple technique. Upend the suitcase onto the floor and sift through the debris. My home becomes like the detonation point after a car bomb.
The suitcase always has way more than was ever necessary for the holiday. There are clothes for all weather conditions, including weather that was never going to occur. It is unlikely that snow gloves will ever be needed in the Amazon jungle, but they going into the suitcase, just in case. Casual clothes, dress clothes in case I want to go for a fancy meal, swimwear, umbrella, more reading material that could be possible completed even if I read non-stop 24hours a day for the duration of my holiday. Having over-packed I then set myself the challenge of wearing every piece of clothing and using every other item in my suitcase at least once during the holiday.
Finally there is the stress of the travelling itself. My holidays usually include a flight or two. Planning the trip to the airport allowing enough time to negotiate the worst possible traffic condition and still leaving time to stand in endless queues in order to negotiate check in and and the obligatory security checks and screening. All this needs to be before the flight is closed. It is not the fear of missing the light that stresses me it is the thought of being filmed missing my flight and appearing on a future airport based reality television show. All this rushing around so I can sit in a hard plastic chair watching a small television with the sound turned off while I wait an hour for the flight to be called.
The only thing worse than jostling in the queue to board the plane is the stress of trying to find room for my carryon bag in an overhead compartment that is somewhere near where I am sitting.
No wonder people use the on board bathroom the moment the seatbelt sign is turned off there is a lot of stress that needs to be evacuated.