For the last two weeks, James and I have been on a road trip around Italy. We started in Rome, then drove up to a little place in Umbria, then through Tuscany to Cinque Terre, Lake Garda and Venice, with a bunch of stops in towns along the way. It sounds idyllic, right? Rolling through the hills of Tuscany and stopping for pizza and wine whenever the mood struck? The thing is, a lot of this holiday wasn’t ideal.
We started the fortnight off with a two-hour-delayed flight. Because of this, we missed the last train in Rome and had to pay 60 euros for a taxi to our AirBNB. The day we left Rome there was a train strike so we had to get on a crammed bus to go pick up the car, and then the bus was stuck in a traffic jam for so long that we got out and walked the rest of the way. Then the car company refused our insurance and we spent two and a half hours sorting that one out (well, James did while I read my book). And that was just the first four days. Add to that horrific sunburn and paying an extortionate amount on motorway tolls, and it sounds like the holiday from hell. And yet, it was maybe the best holiday I’ve ever had.
No matter what happened, no matter what went wrong (and almost everything that could have gone wrong, did) it didn’t put a damper on the amazing time we had. If anything, all the hiccups made us appreciate the good bits even more. We were in Italy. We were eating deep-fried calzone and vegan gelato on the streets of Rome. We were staying in a remote part of Umbria with panoramic views and our own private pool, hot tub and outdoor pizza oven. We were swimming in Lake Garda, taking a gondola ride in Venice, visiting gorgeous town after town and drinking all the red wine along the way. No matter how many curveballs were thrown at us, we were on holiday and, damn it, we were going to have a good time.
Because that’s the thing when you’re on holiday – you’ve got to make the most of it. You’ve paid your hard-earned money, used your annual leave, planned and planned for this, and you’ve only got a limited amount of time to enjoy it. When things go wrong you don’t write the day off and try again tomorrow, because you haven’t got many more tomorrows here. Soon you’ll be flying home, so you dust yourself off, throw on a floaty dress and go eat the best flipping gnocchi you’ve ever had.
I wonder if Real World Chloe has something to learn from her holiday counterpart. Life is like an extended holiday. We only have a limited number of days, and so often we throw them away like we have an infinite supply. We spend evening after evening watching TV instead of talking to each other or doing something different. We go to bed early, even at the weekend, because we don’t want to be tired on Monday. Something small goes wrong, and instead of powering through we let it take us down. Forget carpe diem – the day has seized us.
I know life can throw some pretty major curveballs our way. I know sometimes we need to take a minute; to wallow, to grieve, to feel the pain or the loss or the anger that is just a part of all of our lives. I know that life can’t always be one big gelato party, because we have illnesses and kids to look after and bills to pay. But maybe we could just add a little more holiday sparkle than we currently do. Maybe we could treat life more like an adventure, and less like something we have to trudge through. Maybe we could let ourselves throw caution to the wind once in a while, and stay up past 10, have that glass of wine, take more photos of the beauty all around us. We’re all heading in the same direction, but it’s up to you whether you let that journey be a commute or turn it into a road trip.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti