How to survive the perils of the Modern Summer Holiday

Shane Watson
King Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Letizia, and their daughters - WireImage

When you look at this picture of the Spanish royal family, you may feel a shudder of Family on Holiday Envy. This is a familiar problem at this time of year. On your own family holiday you will at some point cross paths with one of these superior units and ask yourself – why don’t our children have beautifully brushed hair, crisp clothes and sunny dispositions?

Why is The Dad so trim and cool; why does The Mum look 10 years younger than me, and how come she’s unfazed by the brutal humidity? How in the name of God/midst of Lucifer do they all manage to look so fresh and unruffled.

Where’s the sunburn? The dragging feet? The armless sunglasses and grubby Adidas shorts? 

Family envy is one of the hazards of the modern summer holiday. Here are some of the others:

1. Inappropriate under-dressing

Don’t want to point the finger at the Macrons, but that picture of them strolling shoeless did remind us of the tipping point on a holiday – week two – when suddenly you think it’s OK to go to the supermarket wearing your bikini under a see-through beach cover-up – and all the locals look at you with pity and amusement. A week ago you would never have done anything so low. 

2. At least one visit to the GP or A&E

This is mainly Brits, but the minute we hit “abroad” we get an ear infection, or a tummy bug, and even if we don’t get properly ill, like Jeremy Clarkson, we always feel a bit off (it’s 104F and we are hydrating with mojitos, and eating like Henry VIII, but that can’t be the reason).

If you don’t get as far as the local GP you will end up in a chemist miming nausea and backache while they ask you, in their language, if you have recently eaten anything very cold. Days of fun. 

Mojitos: holiday hydration

3. The purchase of at least one pair of wear-twice shoes

This always happens. Cork mules fit for an Italian soap star that make you 6ft 2in. Glittery flat sandals, not dissimilar to Queen Letizia’s, but impossible to keep on your feet.

Same goes for the charming local pottery. And notebooks with parchment pages. You cannot resist buying all of it, even though you know it is Straight to Storage stuff.

4. Taking up smoking again

Look at DC at Wilderness festival, and it wasn’t even hot there. He wasn’t even out of the country.

David Cameron at Wilderness Festival Credit: @laeedwards / instagram 

5. A “We’re Moving To Here” resolution

Post 50 this happens every time you go on holiday. Why can’t we have a house in Umbria/flat in Paris/winery in Provence?

Forget FOMO, from now on it’s FONLA (fear of not living abroad). It stresses you out, the knowledge that others have managed it and are growing their own olives.

6. Some form of cultural appropriation

When in Sicily, men start wearing sunglasses in churches; in France they turn up the collars of their polo shirts; in Spain they start sitting together at one end of the table. It definitely could be worse.

Top 15 | Europe's cheapest summer destinations