Holidays should not be hard work. At least that's my deep-held belief and, as someone who is an out-and-proud human sloth, I despair at those who make them so. I'm talking about parents with young kids who feel they have to keep them occupied their every minute; those who travel in large groups of people, all with differing wants and needs; those active types who see time off as one long triathlon of bike rides, cross-channel swims and hikes.
On behalf of all lazy people, I would like to ask just what the actual hell are you thinking? Have you never heard of relaxation? Don't you understand the heaven of a hammock, the wonder of a wet bar, the delights of day drinking? I do and, as such, feel the need to share with you my guide to summer holidays of the unwind kind. (Please note: those with liver issues, dependency problems or who are too shy to lie should opt out now.)
Go somewhere you've been before.
Yes, back to the same resort, beach house, caravan park or whatever. There are several reasons for this, the most potent being that you don't need to explore anything – it's been done. You will also already know the best restaurants, takeaways, bottle shops and massage places, and hopefully have them all on speed dial. Oh, and there's a chance your kids will know other kids and go off and play with them. Out of sight is all right.
Pack a library.
Challenge yourself to read a book a day. Trust me, it can be done as long as you don't leave the banana lounge for too many trips to the bar (I recommend waiter service, or a full esky as a side table). Should anyone question your reading devotion, tell 'em it's research. They may not believe you but hey, it sounds good.
Make sure you have a designated adults-only area.
If at the beach, mark a sand dune as a kid-free zone far enough away so that their delightful squeals of joy can't be heard, and have a designated parent/supervisor on rotation looking after them. Even better, pony up for a resort and sign the little darlings up for those activity program thingies where they are kept occupied (read, run ragged) all day. As much as you may love them, parents need some time. It's your holiday, too.
Feign an injury.
I did this once on a ski holiday and got to spend my days with hot toddies by a roaring fire instead of on my bum on a kiddie slope. With a little imagination, the same can be done in warmer weather. I'd go a dodgy ankle to rule out long beach walks, heatstroke for any outdoor activity, and an upset stomach for bothersome group-dining invitations.
Make the most of the spa.
This is important and should be budgeted for in advance. I love a summer holiday in which I can spend hours on my stomach with a smiling local kneading my lily-white flesh into submission. Actually, add to this scenario another smiling local carving the dead skin off my feet or massaging my temples. And repeat. Daily, if you can afford it. Remember, you are helping the local economy. It's a win-win situation.
Don't feel obliged to shop.
Yes, I know this sounds like I'm talking the cray-cray talk but I have learnt from trial and error that doing so can mean pesky bargaining, baffling currency translations, badly lit change rooms (last thing you need on a holiday is the self-flagellation of a full-view mirror!) and money spent that could be given to smiling locals (as above).
And by this, I mean don't even think about it. I take the view that holiday calories do not count and cocktails are vital for rehydrating. Oh, and all that sweat has to weigh something. Try to remember that food is not just carbs, protein, sugars and fats – it's also yum. Especially when someone else is cooking.
Other than that, apply sunscreen, a hat and a smile. And tip your waiters well. That way, there's less of a chance they will keep you waiting the next day. Happy horizontal holidays.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale December 16.