By Kelly Clarke
Planning a holiday as a grown up definitely has its perks. You get to choose where to go, where to stay, and for those who like to wake up at 6am to go exploring, a minute-by-minute schedule can be planned in advance. Choice is your buzzword.
There is one thing that trumps the luxury of being a holidaying adult though. It’s the lack of responsibility while holidaying as a kid.
Nothing quite beats the feeling of being a child on vacation. Travel budgets are non-existent, the concept of time is long forgotten and contrary to life at home, simplicity works. When plucked from home and plonked into holiday haven, those usual moans and groans of being bored quickly disappear. Carefree is the buzzword.
A recent travel booking has left me craving that lackadaisical approach to all things travel. It’s also made me realise it’s a luxury that only children can feel.
With a long weekend coming up, I vowed I was going to spend it elsewhere. Refusing to settle for another monotonous weekend at a mall, on the beach, or faffing around my apartment rearranging things, I decided a little getaway was in order.
Not one to spend days painstakingly researching hotel and flight options in a bid to save a grand total of Dh50, I tend to go in blind when it comes to choosing destination spots. Recommendations from friends often sway me too. It requires little effort from my end, and it usually works.
This time around though, with just three days to play with, I was forced to think a little more practically in terms of where to go. Some loose rules had to be set.
A quick flight was a must; nowhere more than three hours away. That helped narrow the playing field, but I was still undecided. Firmly against the term ‘boomerang tourist’ (someone who returns to the same place year on year), my partner and I both wanted somewhere different. That ruled out six (close by) countries.
As the options started thinning, so did my patience. Attempting to stick within the lines of those earlier set rules while trying to please not just myself, but my travel buddy too, was getting tiresome. Holiday planning was never this laborious as a kid; it didn’t exist. Mum and dad took care of the logistics, not me.
Then I came across Armenia, ‘one of the oldest countries in the world with a recorded history of about 3500 years’ (Wikipedia told me). History means character so that was one box ticked. And a quick look online confirmed it was within my specified flying time too. Bonus! After two days of back and forth holiday hunting, it became the front-runner.
Knowing my friend had just got back from Yerevan, the country’s capital, I shot her a text in the hope she would cement the decision for me.
“Where did you fly into in Armenia, did you stay in the city? I’m looking to go next weekend, need advice.”
I was hoping she’d reply with a hotel/hostel name and a list of things to do; a casual message in the guise of a virtual travel advisor. Instead, she threw a spanner in the works.
“What do you want to do there this time of the year?” Her response was uninspiring.
What’s wrong with Armenia this time of the year, I thought? My blatant lack of research started to show, but I’d be the first to admit, I’m not a planner. As a traveller, I hate knowing too much about a place before going there. For me, a country or city is (often) best explored by accident.
The words ‘this time of year’ did concern me though? Is June in Armenia synonymous with freak weather? Nope, I checked that out, ‘an average of 27 degrees Celsius in the day,’ one article read. Perfect! Maybe Yerevan has some sort of seasonal shut down during the summer? Again, nope. A quick Google search proved it’s a year-round destination. So I pressed her, “I don’t see there being much to do there at the moment tbh… if it wasn’t for skiing it could have been a bit boring.”
That’s where her concerns for my travel choice stemmed from. A city with little to offer, she said, before urging me to check out Croatia, “I’ve heard that’s a great place for adventures. Cheap too!”
For a minute, I toyed with the suggestion, but with an eight-hour flight time from Dubai, Croatia fell way out of the realm of that checklist I was working against. As such, her advice on Armenia fell on deaf ears.
The lazy planner in me picked it simply because it’s close by, and I wanted the planning part out of the way. And the optimist in me was skeptical of her ‘boring’ remark. It’s a city steeped in history, nestled in mountains dotted with thousands-year-old monasteries. If boredom ensues during a three-day visit, I’d safely say that’s your problem, not Armenia’s.
Just days ahead of my trip, I’m finally starting to feel that childlike excitement that comes with every holiday. And in the future, if mum and dad could go back to taking care of the planning part — and the budget too — I’d happily trade choice for a hassle-free experience.
Kelly prefers hostels to hotels. She once met a man who lived in a cave