From the TV series "The Crown," Season 4,
Episode 2: "The Balmoral Test"
Princess Margaret: This chair, no one sits on it. It's Queen Victoria's chair!
Margaret Thatcher: How fascinating!
Princess Margaret: And you know we're on an official holiday, right?
Margaret Thatcher: Yes, but it's hard to enjoy any holiday with the current state of the country.
Princess Margaret: The country has suffered before, and undoubtedly, it will suffer again someday. One learns from life's experience a lesson that taking a period of rest sometimes lies in the more logical course of action.
Margaret Thatcher: In fact, periods of rest don't suit me nor provide me with any enjoyment.
Princess Margaret: They might provide you with something more important... perspective.
We Saudis anticipate a lot from our holidays and vacations; they should be enjoyable, relaxing, and full of adventures. With today's new requirements, they should be Instagram and Snapchat-worthy, where documenting every moment and sharing everything becomes a necessity. Planning everything is also a must, and everyone needs to be in the same place at the same time.
Vacations are often reserved for children during their school holidays when they can enjoy the beach, shop for luxury brands that are not available in Saudi Arabia, and try out great restaurants, cafes, and food trucks. We also want to dress up and wear our best clothes. There are many outfits in our closets that are perfect for vacation, such as that kaftan or blazer that would be perfect for a vacation in Ibiza but wouldn't work in the Maldives. And there's that expensive fur jacket that you only wore once in Courchevel. With more long weekends and short vacations in Saudi Arabia, as well as events and visitors, you have more options in the region such as Alula, Taif, Abha, and Jeddah, in addition to Dubai, Gouna, and the North Coast!
Now that you've decided on your destination, as we all commonly believe, technology should make our lives easier and faster. Before we know it, we spend around nine hours (if lucky and quick) searching for the best flight and hotel deals. Then comes the time to book restaurants, activities, cafes, spa appointments, beach activities, tours, music events, adventures, diving, and kids' activities. But that's not all! Let's not forget about packing. How many bags do I need? What clothes should I choose? How many shoes? Will I work out there? I'll need workout gear... And what if I get invited to a fancy dinner? I'll need elegant clothes, bags, hats, accessories, and makeup... All this is exhausting, and you'll need a vacation after planning the vacation. Maybe it's better to stay at home and enjoy real relaxation. Then, you might find a new perspective, as Princess Margaret said.
This moment now... may be a small vacation
My words may seem exaggerated to some, but for me, this is exactly what I feel. When I'm very busy with work, life, and hobbies, I obviously feel like I need a vacation, but often, I'm too busy to plan it. As I write this article, I'm already planning my summer vacation, hoping I have 3 weeks to do it properly, but of course, I failed! I had to go to Abu Dhabi to attend my friend's "queen" (wedding), return to Riyadh late at night, and then travel to Kuwait the next day for unplanned work needs. And suddenly when I returned, I discovered that the three weeks that I thought I would use to plan had become only five days, and I had not booked a flight, had not packed my luggage, and had no restaurant reservations, not even the perfect beach body as I wished!
But on that day that I spent in Abu Dhabi, my friend "the groom" and I went to the beach for lunch and then swam in the clear waters of the Arabian Gulf. When I took my head out of the water and opened my eyes, I saw my friend in front of me in the water, the quiet sandy beach behind him with the umbrellas and the hotel facade, and suddenly I had a question that I had never thought of before, why wouldn't this be a vacation?! This moment now... may be a small vacation, even for two hours. This was the new perspective I found, that your holiday or vacation should give you only what you want. Just as we have options in bookings, clothes, and destinations, we must redefine the meaning of holidays and vacations. Today we have what is known as Staycations or Holidays at place of residence, and why can't a business trip be a vacation for example? If you can spend even an hour in a coffee shop to enjoy a cup of coffee, even if it's bad, who cares?
Your vacation may also be staying at home, sleeping, and doing what you really want, whatever it is. And maybe it's just dressing up at home, receiving friends, going to a local park, or exercising.
Changing the way we think about the concept of a vacation achieves its true purpose. A vacation should either relax us, inspire us, rejuvenate us, help us reconnect with loved ones, or even more importantly, reconnect with ourselves. And it might not be any of those things; perhaps you don't even need to define it. Your vacation could simply be a period of free time away from thinking about anything, lessons, perspectives, or goals.
On the way back from Abu Dhabi (which I had to reschedule for an earlier time and take a flight from Dubai so I could sleep in my bed by 2 AM and wake up for work as usual), as I sat in seat 57A at the back of the plane, I decided not to entertain myself. I remained there throughout the flight, not doing anything, not thinking about anything, and actually felt excited about how my body, mind, and soul would feel for the hour and a half, just sitting and soaking in the atmosphere. That flight could be considered a vacation if our minds decide so.
Finally, I hope you enjoy your vacation, wherever and however it may be.