In praise of the holiday

David Whitley picks up the mini-golf putter and realises that things that were fun on childhood holidays can still be worthwhile additions to an RTW trip

There are some massive differences between going on holiday for a week and going travelling for a few months. The two types of trip are approached with very different mindsets (let alone packing priorities). A holiday tends to be about enjoyment, longer-term travelling about experience and exploration. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match a bit. 

In fact, sometimes it’s good to abandon po-faced attempts to travel ‘properly’ and just revert to what you’d do on a childhood holiday. It can be amazing how a day of shameless fun can end up more memorable than a visit to a must-see temple or worthy cultural experience. If I look back to when I was a kid, a rough approximation of a perfect day would consist of going on a boat, petting an animal, eating an ice cream and a game of mini golf.

And you know what? If I’m being honest, that’s probably still very close to being my idea of a perfect day. I don’t care how touristy and pointless the boat ride is, it’s still fun. And ice creams are still tasty.

Similarly, I may be in my thirties, but I still secretly love going to the zoo. I’ll often find myself writing such attractions off in favour of doing something I ought to be doing, however. Alas, no matter how good the museum is or how staggering the temple may be, if I analyse it truthfully, I’d probably have enjoyed watching monkeys or seeing an elephant being fed more.

Then there’s mini golf. I’ve never played had a game of mini golf that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t care if I’m three times older than anyone else going round the course – it’s fun. And the more absurd the theme (there’s an excellent pirate mini-golf course in Santa Cruz, California, by the way), the better. Bring on the ludicrous ramps, obstacles and windmills – but not those awful ones where the hole is basically on a mountain at the end of the green, and unless you miraculously get it exactly right, the ball just rolls down the other side again. They’re rubbish holes.

But the problem with such delights is that I could be anywhere. I don’t have to leave the country for boats, ice cream, zoos and mini-golf. That’s not the point of travelling, is it? It’s a pathetic waste of time, yes?

Well I’d argue it’s not. You’re not getting marked out of ten for how well you do it. There’s no prize for being best at travelling. And sometimes it’s best to just go and do what you’ll get most enjoyment out of at the time rather than worrying about losing mythical traveller points. If you like rollercoasters, there’s no shame in going to a theme park. If your inner child loves trying to win a teddy on the arcades, there’s no harm in indulging it. Bowling alleys, waterparks and fairground waltzers shouldn’t be off limits just because you’re doing grown-up travelling. A bit of harmless holiday fun every now and then can do wonders for your disposition.


What traditional holiday activities do you still secretly enjoy? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.