Angela Scanlon: Out of the closet and into the world
Holidays are a simple and wonderful way to rekindle love, reinforce friendship and reawaken your sense of adventure, says Angela Scanlon.
You're still feeling a little soft around the middle, not quite as rested as you hoped post-Christmas and not as virtuous as you wished. You imagined waking early for exercise before work, drinking juice at lunch and running home with a backpack the size of a house and a sweaty look of smug superiority. Instead, you're planning your escape route!
You've changed your screensaver to a picture of a hammock and clear blue waters with a hut made of expensive reeds, the kind that still blow over when there's a storm which seems unfair since you did remortgage your own house (made of actual bricks) to be there.
You would go back to this magical place anyway or plot the course for another adventure because, after all, holidays are supposed to be the glue that keeps us stuck. The break we desperately need from real life to remind us it's all worth it. Right?
Stepping away from questioning the meaning of life, holidays are a simple and wonderful way to reconnect with the very best of what's inside us. Rekindle love. Reinforce friendship. Reawaken your sense for adventure. Of course, the kind of holiday you choose depends on which 're...' you're into.
I spent a lot of last year travelling for RTÉ/BBC television show Getaways and so have done a bit of the donkey work for you. Tough gig, etc! Each of the destinations are a direct flight from Ireland so none of this arsing around in Frankfurt or Abu Dhabi bleary-eyed from eating crisps and sleeping with your head in a position once reserved for torture victims.
Nope, you're straight there and, if you're lucky, there may be a yellow plane in the mix that blows a horn rather encouragingly when you land - like it's a bonus that you actually touched down.
Choosing a destination is not difficult, just don't ask everyone who's going for an opinion. Take the lead. Decide what it is you want from a holiday. Do you want to go wild or go cycling? Go shopping or to the beach? It's likely you want a combination of the above (perhaps without the cycling and maybe with some kids thrown into the mix) so narrow down the priorities and start to create a hit-list.
In fact you should have a hit-list already, like a travel bucket list. Something to refer to at this time of year, even if booking a holiday is a long way off. The mere thought of venturing to somewhere far flung and exotic can be enough to whet your palate and get you inspired…
The single most important thing when setting out to book is clarity. Knowing what you are looking for, or maybe how you want to feel on return, will help narrow this down. As will budget, although most places now have something to suit every range and an airline to take you there even if you pack the ham sandwiches yourself. Once you pull back the curtain - or is it rip off the plaster? - even some of the most tried and tested places can turn into something completely unexpected.
Over the course of the series, we visit San Francisco, Tuscany, Toronto, Istria and Krakow as well as some fab Irish destinations but perhaps the most surprising for me was… Mallorca, or 'Maj-orca' as they say in Cork!
I went expecting to see all the Magaluf madness and fearing I could never un-see it. Santa Ponsa is not the sexiest place you will ever go but as an island Mallorca it is utterly beautiful. Hop on a wooden train and head to seaside town Soller or take a drive up the hills to bohemian favourite Deia, wander around the historic city of Palma with it's breathtaking cathedral and bustling food scene.
I recently spent a week in Marrakech. When I told people I was going it was met with mixed and polarised reviews, people who adored it so much they would live there and those who couldn't wait to get out of the place. I hooked up with BoutiqueSouk.com, a company run by a wonderful Irish woman called Rosena and her French husband Fred. There is nothing or no one they don't know in Morocco and they will tailor-make your trip so that you fall in love with this wonderfully spicy, colourful, eclectic country that's practically on our doorstep but feels a million miles away.
While I hate the word 'staycation' I enjoy dabbling in this patriotic pastime once in a while. Our beautiful little country is quite a wonder! As a kid all we did was staycation - Donegal, Mayo, Trabolgan (still the best) - hopping in a car and taking to the open road. Right now Kenmare is up there with the best - idyllic walks, brilliant fuss-free local food at Teddy O'Sullivans and Packies and the friendliest of faces.
If Tripadvisor is not for you, just watch Getaways on Thursdays at 7pm on RTÉ1.
Book the best value holidays anywhere at travel.independent.ie