On Knowing When to Take a Holiday, and How to Actually Take One. And Book Babymoons.

How do you know when you need to take a holiday? Please tell me, because apparently I haven’t learned to read the signs

I’ve heard that breaks are great for us. They make us more creative, recharge our energy levels and crap like that. 

But how do you know when you need some time off to recharge?

In my old job, my boss would pretty much force us to space our annual leave throughout the year and make us take breaks when we’d been working too hard. I do miss that. My new boss (me) doesn’t give breaks as frequently.

I read recently that we need a break every 62 days. 62 days!  I know a lot of us aren’t getting that.

Nowadays, I’m more likely to take a break when I get so exhausted I can’t do anything or start making weird mistakes like calling people by their dog’s name.

Last year I spent a week basically lying in my friend’s bathtub trying to recover from burnout.

This is almost definitely symptomatic of pushing yourself too hard. 

So last week, when I realised I was on the verge of exhaustion, I decided I’d take the week following the August bank holiday off (the 28th of August to 1st of September). Unfortunately I didn’t ward off the exhaustion in time and ended up with a wicked cold instead.

So now in addition to feeling vaguely guilty from wanting to take a break from work that I dreamed of doing, I feel extremely guilty about taking a holiday right after having had a sick day. Am I the only one full of holiday-guilt?! Please tell me you do this, too.

I mean, I believe holidays and travel and exploration are important to us learning about and seeing the world, enriching our knowledge of other cultures and much more. I write about travel. But god forbid taking a laptop-free holiday!

Still, ditching the laptop might be the only way to preserve (restore?) my sanity, I fear. So, I’ve resolved to log out of my email this week and keep off social media (except maaaaybe instagram stories, since I just started using them last week and am loving them, but that depends how I feel. Also if you use Instagram stories please add me so I can stalk your stories.)

Now, we reach the second part of the conundrum. Realising it’s time for a holiday is one thing, but how to actually take a break?

Well first you have to prepare yourself to take a break, which involves a lot of planning and booking of tickets and finishing up work which is stressful in and of itself. 

One thing I really wanted to do before my break was finish the cover of my upcoming vegan Barcelona guidebook (I finished writing and editing it over a month ago and I’m getting impatient with the cover design process, which isn’t going well — oh, designer woes — and I’m still searching for the elusive cover designer to work with). I figured if I finished I could take a ‘book babymoon’ before the book is out. (Yes, that sounds very self-indulgent, but publishing a book is like giving birth creatively, or so I’ve heard, and it’s become a thing for people to take a holiday before the birth of their baby. They call it a babymoon. Hence, a book babymoon, before figuratively giving birth to my guidebook.)

Well, the cover isn’t done; it’s not even started (unless you count a version that turned out completely wrong – see designer woes above) but I’m taking my book babymoon anyway, cover be damned.

So, to cut down on (some) stress of break-taking, I decided to have a ‘staycation’ and stay in London and do all the things I always mean to do but never get around to. I’ve seen all the main tourist sights (repeatedly) so these will be off the beaten path attractions.

If  my staycation is a success, I might just share some of my London ‘off the beaten path’ ideas here.

I have a few things in mind but I haven’t made any set plans yet (apart from finally trying out Persepolis, and taking walks along the canal, which is one thing I always mean to do but forget about)…so please share your favourite ‘off the beaten path’ sights in London!! :D Where would you recommend for some quirky sightseeing in London?

P.S. I’ve rewritten this post like 12 times, trying to make it sound vaguely [a word I can’t even think of – decent? witty? elegant?] but my brain is obviously fried so I’m going to give up now and publish this as is.

P.P.S. Please share your tales of holiday woes with me. I need to know it’s not just me who doesn’t take a break until my body gives up/gives in to raging flu, or the only person that feels guilty for taking a ‘holiday’ that essentially involves staying in my house and going around my home city while quietly attempting to resist the urge to not check my email/social media.


7 thoughts on “On Knowing When to Take a Holiday, and How to Actually Take One. And Book Babymoons.

  1. Sam | Alternative Travelers

    Oh you’re so not alone Caitlin! We finally got back to Madrid after our traveling summer and I feel like I need to take a social media break just to recoup and process! It’s so hard to constantly feel like we have to be on top of everything – or actually one step ahead of the “game”. We’re headed to the mountains this weekend and I might just take a social media break even just for the weekend – I definitely need one too! Hope you’re enjoying your London “staycation” ;)

    1. Caitlin Galer-Unti Post author

      Oh I’m so glad it’s not just me!! Did you manage to take a social media break in the mountains? (I’m just back online and catching up with everything!) Being able to work while travelling is both a blessing and a curse, I think — it’s great being able to travel whenever and wherever you want but then being able to work on the road means constantly being connected and online and sometimes I think we just need a break from all the social media noise! My “staycation” was wonderful — I got to do several things even my London friends didn’t realise existed here, like see wander in lavender fields, visit the largest Hindu temple in Europe and go outdoor swimming in the middle of London! I’ll write about it all soon. :)

  2. scar

    Ahh the holiday woes! I find I often get ill either just before or just after a holiday, and I get the same guilt you do. I think the ill thing is partly because your brain tells your body it’s about to be allowed to slow down, so your body drains some adrenaline, which might have been the only thing warding off whatever dreaded virus has been wafting around.

    I think freelancers should be each other’s holiday advocates. Maybe we should set up a network of people to be each other’s “holiday bosses” and force each other to take time off every 62 days? ;)

    I just realised you wrote this post a while ago so you might have already had your holiday, but I’m going to recommend some London stuff so you can store it up for 62 days’ time when you take your next one…

    – The crystal grotto in Painshill Park looks really cool and I want to go one day
    – Highgate Cemetery
    – St-Dunstan-In-The-East secret garden (I know, I know, the ‘E’ word…)
    – The Thames path from Richmond to Twickenham (also very Benito-friendly, I should think)

    …or alternatively you can come here and I’ll lock you in the bathroom and force you to relax. Mi bañera es tu bañera ;)

    1. Caitlin Galer-Unti Post author

      I LOVE the idea of a network of freelancers forcing each other to take holiday!! Haha. Seriously, I think it could help everyone. I actually made myself a spreadsheet months ago, and made myself fill it out when taking a holiday, and am basically trying to force myself to take the legal minimum number of holidays. It hasn’t only somewhat worked (obviously), but it’s at least forcing me to visually see how many holidays I have/haven’t taken.

      Yeah I already took it but I will keep those in mind for next time! I’m keeping a big list of places to explore in London. :D Ooh I saw the crystal grotto in an article I read on London staycations!! It looks amazing!!!! And Highgate is lovely, I’ve only been once and should explore it more. :) St Dunstan in the East…haha. It looks amazing in the pictures even if it is E. ;) And the Thames Path–yes, I ended up on a bit of it on my staycation but not that bit, I should go explore further. Haha gracias! I think your bañera is the most relaxing place, maybe a little magical. ;)

        1. Caitlin Galer-Unti Post author

          Hehe. ;) Maybe some kind of calender alarm system that goes off every 62 days. Except you’d need to be assigned another freelancer who’s your ‘holiday boss’ and then they get the alert and force you to take the holiday. hahaha.

  3. Pingback: London's Best Secret Destinations (And Where to Eat Vegan Nearby) | The Vegan Word

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