A vacation is a necessity. A prolonged period of time away from work or studies, spent at leisure in rest and recreation. It reduces stress, it rejuvenates. It is good for your health. It is good for you.
Many countries, most of them highly industrialized and wealthy, recognize the benefits of a vacation to the physical and mental health of their workers. Germany, Sweden, Austria, Australia, and France, among others, guarantee at least 4 weeks’ paid workdays in addition to public holidays. On the other hand, the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, has no provisions for even one legally paid vacation day; this matter is between an employer and his employee. Canadians who work full-time are entitled to two-weeks paid leave to start with.
In the Philippines, employees are entitled to five days of paid Service Inactive Leave (SIL). However, most companies give their workers vacation leave as well as paid civic and religious holidays. It is no wonder that, according to Tripzilla.com, (citing the Human Resource Guide to Asia, 2018), 70% of Filipinos seem to be content and claim to have a good work/life balance.
Summer vacations are a very big thing in the Philippines. From April on, everyone wants to get away from the extremely hot and humid weather. By the time June comes around and school is over, there is an exodus of families.
Years ago, when I was growing up, the dream holiday destination was Baguio, the Summer Capital of the Philippines, with temperatures in the 50–60 degrees Fahrenheit. Out came our sweaters as we shivered deliciously in the “very cold” temperatures. My parents would also take us to their hometown in Boac, Marinduque (for the Moriones Festival during Holy week) where we had easy access to the sea. It was rather idyllic, there were no hordes of tourists. We would go with friends and relatives for picnics on the beach. The girls were quite happy to splash around in the warm water and relished collecting all kinds of stones and seashells. (for some reason, only the boys knew how to swim and showed off their skills among the waves away from shore)
Even here in Canada, although those who can afford it go away for the winter, summer is also the time to go on vacation. I do wonder, why do we go away when the weather is just lovely? The trees are green, the flowers are blooming, the restaurant patios are open and drinks are flowing? The answer, of course, is that a change of scene is always good.
For families with children, this is the best time to travel as classes are over. I once took my kids out of school to go on their first trip to the Philippines (it was November, the right time for a visit climate-wise) and, while the principal generously acknowledged, “Of course, travel is educational”, we were treated to a lot of raised eyebrows from some teachers and parents.
Some parents put their children in camp and other organized summer activities. Some go off to the cosy comforts of a family cottage. But for many, it often means a change of scene, an unfamiliar destination - getting away from it all.
According to Marie Masongsong, a licensed travel specialist based in Mississauga, Ontario, many Filipinos like to “go home” for extended visits. Of course “going home” now also includes spending time at one of the many world-class beach resorts in Palawan, Cebu, Davao and Bohol. Others take the Northern adventure trips to Ilocos, Vigan, Pagudpod or to Clark and Zambales. Some prefer to go to more exotic places like the Caribbean in the winter, and to Europe in the summer. Older holidaygoers prefer to go on group tours, cruises and pilgrimages.
But what if one cannot get away from work for long periods? Ah, then, you can have a staycation - you can still enjoy some rest and recreation without straying too far from home. A staycation can be a discovery of places of interest in your immediate area: museums, art galleries, restaurants. Perhaps a concert, the theater, an antique market. There are day trips to be made to little towns and villages outside the city.
It could be a re-discovery. I live in Toronto and take the Niagara area for granted having taken so many out of town guests there over the years. Recently, we drove down to go to Niagara Falls and did the whole tourist thing just by ourselves. We oh-ed and ah-ed at the American and Horseshoe Falls, went up the ferris wheel and admired the mini-golf area from up high, took the Hornblower (once the Maid of the Mist) to the edge of the Canadian falls, spent an hour and a small fortune at the casino, lunched at a winery straight out of Italy, enjoyed the “Grand Hotel” at the Festival Theatre and ended the evening with fish and chips at a century-old local pub in Niagara on the Lake. All in a day.
But, because we travel a lot, my idea of a really restful and relaxing staycation is to hole up with a book, snug in my bed, ensconced in fluffy pillows, and to read undisturbed for as long as I want. To do what I enjoy without guilt about obligations, to be free – now that’s what it truly means to be on vacation.