by Liz Walter
Brits call them holidays, Americans call them vacations, and nowadays, if you can afford it, you can have almost any kind you want. The singer Sarah Brightman has just announced that she is to become Britain’s first space tourist when she travels on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station some time next year. She won’t be able simply to turn up with her suitcase though – first she has to undergo several months of preparation at the cosmonaut‘s training centre, including time in a centrifuge to learn how to stay conscious when subjected to the immense G forces she will encounter.
For less intrepid souls (or those of us who can’t spare the undisclosed though presumably massive ticket price for such an adventure) there are still plenty of other options. These range from mancations geared towards male-only groups, greycations which cater for three or more generations of one family holidaying together, to so-called halal holidays which may include facilities such as alcohol-free dining areas, single sex spas, and guidance in the hotel room on the direction of Mecca.
The credit crunch has led to many families having to make economies, and the term staycation to describe a holiday at home or at least in one’s own country was quick to catch on. Since then, we have seen a proliferation of ‘–cation’ words. The haycation (a holiday on a farm) and the playcation (a holiday where the main aim is to have fun) both sound enjoyable, while an increase in air routes has made the daycation (a one-day trip to a holiday destination) a more viable prospect than it once was.
In 2010, the Icelandic volcano Eyiafjallojokull erupted, causing a pronunciation crisis in newsrooms around the world and leaving thousands of air passengers stranded. Enterprisingly, jars of volcanic ash were then sold on eBay as ‘volcation souvenirs’. Another far from ideal break is the fake-ation, where a large proportion of the holidaymaker’s time is actually spent dealing with work – all too easy in these times of internet connectivity.
Many people who have unpleasant memories of spartan and uncomfortable family camping trips would previously have agreed with US author Dave Barry that ‘camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business’. No longer – now it is possible to camp in great luxury. Glamorous camping, or glamping, can take many forms, from yurts to tepees, to luxuriously-equipped tents to Airstream vans. While families and older people holiday on glampsites, the young are more likely to go flashpacking, off round the world with nothing but a change of clothes and the most up-to-date equipment from which to send their blogs, tweets and other communications.
Of course, people travel for many reasons other than for holidays, and one of them is in order to get something that they can’t find (or are not allowed to have) at home. Thus we find tourism added to all kinds of words. For instance, Britain has for some time been a favoured destination for libel tourism, where wealthy complainants come in order to sue. Another increasing phenomenon is medical tourism, with people travelling abroad for procedures denied to them at home. Israel and the US are apparently popular for fertility tourism, but only the truly desperate would opt for stem-cell tourism with its poor reputation for standards and efficacy. Earlier this year, the UK newspaper The Telegraph reported that a Professor Neill was to address a conference in Berlin on the phenomenon of disaster tourism, of which the building of a Titanic-themed attraction in Belfast is an example he deplores. More fun is tattoo tourism where people travel to find the most skilful artists to adorn their bodies.
If all this talk of travel is too much, you can always sofalize, staying at home and communicating electronically with your family and friends. If, on the other hand, you long to be on the road and your next break feels too far away, take comfort from Shakespeare: ‘If all the world were playing holidays; To sport would be as tedious as work.’