What do your holiday plans say about you?8 min read
Thoughts have already turned to the year ahead – and the holiday opportunities 2022 might bring. But what do the trips you book say about your personality?
For some, it’s all about fun with a capital F – shopping, sunbathing and dancing til dawn – and then sharing it all on socials to ensure friends back home can enjoy a healthy dollop of FOMO.
For others, travel is always a learning experience, a chance to delve deep into other cultures. And then there’s those who prefer not to wander too far from home…and stay in a budget hotel when they do.
The holidays you choose can apparently tell someone whether you’re a traveller with style and panache, or someone who cares more about what your followers on the Gram think.
FEMAIL asked travel expert Rob Debenham, who has run Destinations, the UK’s largest holiday and travel show, for more than a decade, to offer a tongue-in-cheek guide to exactly what the ‘vacays’ you choose might say about you…
GLAMPING: ‘A wealthy person’s way of dodging actual camping’
Double bed, wood-burning stove, luxury bathroom products? Glamping is a way of pretending you love camping, without actually having to rough it, suggests Travel expert Rob Debenham (stock image)
Glamping could well be the equivalent of the humble brag. It can cost the same price as a luxury hotel in peak season, but suggests you’re down-to-earth and love connecting with nature (as long as there’s a wood-burner, comfy bed and roll-top bath involved).
Our waspish expert says that if you’re picking a glamping holiday, you’re probably a middle-class urbanite who ‘owns more than 15 bags-for-life and likes vegan shoes’.
‘Think people who loved Enid Blyton as children and probably have a family chateaux in Provence. A wealthy person’s way of dodging an actual camping holiday,’ he said.
DUBAI: ‘Vacuous is probably the word’
What does Dubai say about you as a holiday choice? That culture and history are probably at the bottom of your holiday wish-list (stock image)
The Middle Eastern enclave, abrim with five-star hotels, has long since been a favourite with Premiership footballers, TV stars and, in the last couple of years, social media influencers.
The appeal? If mega malls stuffed with designer stores, beautiful beaches and shimmering five-star hotels are your thing, then they’re almost everywhere you turn.
‘Vacuous’ is probably the word that sums it all up, according to Rob.
‘Dubai is predominantly for people who have an extensive circle of friends that they want to impress,’ he said.
‘Book a holiday here and you’re essentially saying “I don’t care about culture, history or supporting the indigenous people of the destinations I’m visiting.’
BIRD-WATCHING TRIP: ‘For couples who wear matching pyjamas’
Going birdwatching? At one with nature equals a crashing bore, according to our holiday expert (stock image)
If fleeing the masses and spending a little time with Scotland’s feathered friends, cast away on a stunning rural island sounds like seventh heaven, what does that say about you?
Well, probably – and crushingly – that you’re a bit of a bore.
Rob suggests that people who descend on a far-flung island probably ‘revel in wearing camouflage clothing and like to reminisce about the first time they spotted a Great Tit.’
Unflinching, he added: ‘This is the kind of trip that couples who wear matching pyjamas might lust after’.
CARIBBEAN CRUISE: ‘A grown-up school trip – with sun – for lazy people’
The opposite of intrepid? A Caribbean cruise lets you pinball from one beautiful island to another without having to do any thinking about how to get there (stock image)
A cruise requires minimal effort and puts a string of balmy destinations at your doorstep…but does it suggest you’re a ‘playing it safe’ sort of holidaymaker?
Yes, and a bit lazy too, says our expert.
‘This kind of holiday is perfect for those who want to visit the Caribbean but without all the hassle of actually arranging it themselves,’ Rob said.
‘It’s great for those who want to boast about all the Caribbean islands they’ve visited, although not many Caribbean cruisers could actually tell you much about any of the places they’ve been too.
He added: ‘Essentially, it’s a gorgeous destination for people who want to go on a grown-up school journey, but with sun.’
LAS VEGAS: ‘Made for middle-aged men having a mid-life crisis’
Sin City might sound exciting but is it just a hub for middle-aged men making up for lost time? (stock image)
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except it doesn’t because every moment of your trip to Sin City is likely to be documented on your socials.
Rob says if you’re picking Vegas with friends, you’re quite possibly in the throes of a mid-life crisis.
‘This city is famously the domain of middle-aged men who’ve had the destination on their holiday hit list for ages – because when they got married 20 years ago, it was too expensive for the stag do they wanted,’ he explained.
‘Now, they’ll stay in hotels like The Bellagio or Wyn because of their ‘swanky’ reputation, overlooking Vegas gems which are actually much better placed for The Strip – including The Flamingo Hilton, Treasure Island and The Mirage.’
Often those who book too, fail to do their research, says Rob. ‘At least one of the party will decide they can walk somewhere that doesn’t look far on the map and then give-up after two hours of striding down a freeway and get a cab for the rest of the journey.’
CORNISH BOUTIQUE HOTEL: ‘Reassuringly middle-class’
A trip to Cornwall is a surefire way to cement your middle class credentials, but has ‘no real adventure’ (stock image)
Michelin-starred restaurants, California-esque beaches and pretty coastal high streets lined with surf shops; Cornwall is as close to an upmarket foreign beach holiday as we’ll get in the UK – but it does often comes with a serving of snobbery.
Rob says this portion of England’s south-west wins over the middle classes with salubrious phrases such as ‘farm to fork’, ‘ocean to plate’ and ‘foraging’. Many visitors won’t need to book accommodation because they’ll already have a second home in St Ives or Padstow.
He explains: ‘It’s all so reassuringly middle-class and ideal for those that really want a “home from home” without an ounce of real adventure.
‘Many will pour forth to their friends about the fact that EVERY ingredient in the breakfast they ate was sourced from farms within a 10-mile radius of the cluttered kitchen they were sitting in.’
NATIONAL TRUST MINI BREAK: ‘More of a mid-term revision module than a short break’
The National Trust has hundreds of stretches of coast, historic houses and landmarks in its portfolio (stock image)
Earnest, moi? The preserve of young families and retirees, the National Trust doubles up as a history and nature lesson, with a cracking cream tea thrown in for good measure.
But does it say about you if you wear your National Trust annual membership like a badge of honour?
Rob said: ‘Not so much a short break, more of a mid-term revision module for some.
‘A National Trust membership is also for those people who continually say “that place is only 15 miles away, we’ve lived here for 20 years and we’ve never even been there”.
‘There’s a 50/50 chance of them never going back in the next 20 years either..
MARBELLA GLAMOUR: ‘A trip all about showboating on social media’
Smaller than you think: Glitzy Puerto Banus is the heart of ‘Marbs’ but beyond the bars and yachts, it’s easy to get bored in this tiny Spanish playground (stock image)
The holiday you’ve seen on TOWIE, and anticipated for months. This Spanish playground is closer than Dubai and Vegas but is cut from the same holiday cloth.
Puerto Banús is much smaller than it looks on reality TV but if showboating is your thing, then the super cars and super yachts make it the place for you, says Rob.
You’ll probably also found a group of has-beens trying to relive their Ibiza youth too.
‘Marbella is also big amongst pals who reminisce about the good old days when they used to party all night, sleep for three hours, go for a swim, catch some sun, have a couple drinks, freshen up and do it all again.
On the 2nd morning, only Crazy Dave has made it down to the pool. By day 3, his sunbed is empty too.’
BUDGET HOTEL BREAK: ‘Thrifty to the point of sucking the joy out of a holiday’
A budget hotel is a great way to save money – but if you’re spending your whole two week holiday here, it’s time to re-think your travels (stock image)
You’re not here to see the room, right? So as long as the bed’s comfy, what does it matter if you’re on an industrial estate three miles out of the city you’ve come to explore? And you’re only paying £29 a night. For four of you.
Those who bed down in a budget hotel are thrifty to the point that it compromises any enjoyment, says our expert.
‘Getting a bargain is an uplifting experience but if you’re doing it for more than a night or two, it’s verging on just being overtly penny-pinching – you might need another holiday to recover!’
TREKKING IN PERU: ‘A holiday that screams “I’m serious about travel!”‘
The photo everybody wants – and you’ll have to fight to get. Visitors to Machu Picchu in Peru are determined and adventurous but will secretly enjoy the bragging rights (stock image)
You’ll win serious bragging rights for making it to Peru’s ancient Inca citadel…and isn’t that a major part of the appeal? Although be warned, it’s elbows at dawn with hundreds of other smartphones to get the best view of this South American tourist hot spot.
‘A trekking trip to Machu Picchu suggests you want to be seen as ‘A Very Serious Traveller’ – and your redeeming features including being intent on giving back to the local economy and being sustainable and carbon neutral.
‘Those prepared to put their money where their mouth is may even go as far as offsetting the huge carbon footprint they’ve just made on the 12-and-a-half hour flight to get to Lima.
‘Inca Trail Permits are rarer than hen’s teeth these days and so you’re likely to be a determined sort. You probably won’t enjoy the fact that you’ll end up walking with 400 other people all taking the same photos.
TOURING IN A VW CAMPER VAN: ‘A daydreamer in your mid 30s? Thought so!’
Holiday like your grandparents did: a VW campervan trip with friends sounds idyllic but remember it takes a strong friendship to endure travelling in a tiny van (stock image)
Life on the open road with retro vibes. Authentic VW camper vans are much less comfortable than their modern counterparts but they look so cool, you won’t mind.
If you’re booking up a VW holiday, you’re probably an adventure-starved millennial with wistful dreams of epic journeys with your pals.
Rob surmised: ‘Who goes on these trips? Dreamers! People in their mid 30s, often with a close-knit group of pals.
They’re independent of spirit and hankering after a bygone era of easy travel, seamlessly rolling from one place to the next.
‘The cruel reality is that they’ll either be closer than ever to their pals by the end of the trip or they’ll never, ever see each other again after a cracking row.’