A holiday, in the first place, must be in every sense of the word a change, something quite different from the routine of everyday life, in order that that part of us which works hardest all the year may rest for a time.
Women, especially, require to get out of their groove somehow, and when the holiday season is beginning the majority consider ways and means for achieving the best sort of holiday. We all have our ideal holiday, which, perhaps, like our ideal person, belongs to the city of dreams. But, at least, we can have a holiday according to our tastes
What a Holiday Should be
If we work hard during the year, we have a right to a real good holiday, even if it only lasts for two days. But just because the average woman's mind is of the conventional order, very few women have the holiday they want and need, and which they might have by the exercise of a little ingenuity. The usual complaint of the domesticated woman, at least, is that her holiday consists in change of environment, in the sense that she takes her work and responsibilities from the suburban villa to the cottage by the sea. This type of holiday confers change of scene, fresh air, and the healthful influence of sea breezes and green fields. But there is very little mind rest or holiday for the spirit if the same routine of everyday life is followed in a new place.
Now, the holiday of the domesticated woman is a real necessity, especially if she does not have much variety, recreation, or excitement in her life of work for others. Whenever and wherever it can be managed, therefore, the home woman should have a real and thorough change. She would derive 100 per cent, more good out of her holiday if she could get it away from husband and family, even for one week in the year. A real rest for her would be a few days with an old school friend, where she could banish household cares, school, and family interests from her mind.
The one great need in the lives of most people is change and variety. If you live in the country, you will get more pleasure from a holiday spent in a town either at home or abroad. If your life is full, active, restless, strenuous, you simply must have quiet and solitude if the holiday is to be of real value. Then, if you live and move and have your being in dull grey streets and smoky towns, go right into the country, lie about in hammocks slung in picturesque orchards, or rest by the sea drinking in the beauties of Nature hour by hour. So many people who decide upon the orthodox holiday never really enjoy it at all. A great many of us loathe the crowded sands of the popular watering-places, the noise and din and masses of people, and yet we go year after year back to the same place, or one exactly like it, because the "seaside" is the orthodox family holiday.
Of course, much has to be considered in choosing a holiday where several members of a family have to be satisfied. The health and enjoyment of the children; the needs of the man of the house, who wants a golf course within reasonable reach of his work in town; the cost of the holiday and the time which can be devoted to it. And yet, in spite of all these restrictions, I am sure that many women could have a far better holiday this year than they have had in the past by the exercise of brains and thought.
It would be a holiday for the domesticated woman, for example, not to touch a needle during the weeks she is away, to get, if possible, someone else to do the housekeeping or the catering; and to this end the boarding-house or pension offers many advantages. If you are a busy woman, with no time for reading the books you love, you should determine to read poetry or light novels, or anything else you like for as long as you like every day. A little bit of self-indulgence of the innocent kind is the very best tonic for the type of woman who never gets away from her conscience all the rest of the year.
In addition to the usual holiday with the rest of the family, the home woman should try to have a certain definite time entirely off duty to go away on her own account. It is an excellent thing for everybody to have a bit of individual living now and again, and home ties and responsibilities are more attractive afterwards if a woman has been able to get away from them, even for a few days.
The best sort of holiday from the health point of view is one which supplies interest and pleasure in addition to healthful and hygienic environment. Everybody who is working hard ought to spend perhaps the first quarter or third of their holiday in absolute rest. The best beginning is a few days in bed. At least, one ought never to rush straight into a holiday requiring mental and physical exertion after a spell of sedentary work in a city. Many people go back, not the better, but the worse for their holidays simply because they have tried to get too much into the time. The subject of unwise holidays will be considered in a later article on holiday dangers. It will be sufficient, meantime, to emphasise the importance of laziness and rest during the early part of a worker's holiday. On the other hand, the person whose life is quiet, restful, and colourless all the time will find the best holiday is one which consists of plenty of movement, colour, and even excitement. The majority of people, however, have to work, fortunately for themselves, so the preliminary rest for mind and body is a very safe rule to follow.
The Holiday en famille
If you have decided to go en famille to the country or the seaside, choose some place which will be as far as possible a change, and which will provide opportunity for doing the things you like, whether boating, tennis, cycling, or golf. Take only what is absolutely necessary, in order that the labour of packing may be lessened as much as possible. Arrange, if you can, that someone else will do the housekeeping, if you cannot manage to have a holiday en pension after the fashion so popular on the Continent. Even a young maid can be taught with a little care, and the writing out of menus for a week or so ahead, to manage with very little supervision. Make the family understand that they must be satisfied with simple living, in order that the trouble of cooking may be restricted.
Then, when you have got settled down, start the rest cure for a few days. Those who have been undergoing serious mental strain, such as the student fresh from examination, the city man who has had business worries and the strenuous work of winter, should take a few days in bed. The domesticated woman, however, will probably prefer not to go to bed, but to take her rest hour by hour out of doors in the fresh air. Those who obtain their holiday in the early period of the summer will escape the crowds of July and August, and will get their quarters at less expense. During the rest period, at least, it is necessary to keep away from any crowd, and to be alone as much as possible. Have a lounge chair, a couch, or hammock in the shade, and rest absolutely in mind and body. It is of far less consequence where one goes for a holiday than how one passes the time, and it is possible to get a more profitable holiday without stirring from one's own house or back garden than by spending a month travelling on the Continent.
After the rest period is over, then take up healthy occupation. Do not do what others wish you to do, but what you enjoy yourself, so long as you are not aggressively selfish. If you like exercise, take it. If it tires and wearies and bores you, let no one persuade you to cycle or walk with the idea that it will be good for your health. If possible, take up a new interest. Nothing is more invigorating than some hobby or occupation which is fresh and new and really interests you.
That is why a holiday on the Continent is often worth striving for. Many people believe it to be extravagant to cross the Channel for three or four weeks in summer, but living in Normandy, Brittany, or Belgium is cheaper than seaside life at home, and the cost of travelling is the one added expense, and this is not very considerable, unless the,family party is a large one. Such a holiday brings you in contact with different people, new customs and ways of life. All the time you are absorbing fresh ideas. The change is complete in every sense of the word, and the marvel is that more people do not try the Continental holiday in summer.
Do Not do Too Much
Lastly, if you wish to get full benefit from your holiday, do not try to do too much. Get as much fresh air and sunshine as you can, so that you will store up energy and vitality for the rest of the year. If you are taking your holiday in June, you are getting one of the best months, because the earlier summer months give a maximum of the sun's health giving rays, and often the best weather of the whole season. You are escaping the crowds of July and August, with the discomfort and inconveniences which result when too many people are packed into a given area, whether in town or by the sea. Many proprietors of hotels and apartments give special terms during June, and those whose families are either younger or older than the school age are wise in their generation if they make up their minds to arrange for an early summer holiday during this month, which is, in many ways, the most beautiful in the whole year.