Eat Stay Stress: The Truth About Vacations with Friends


Eat Stay Stress: The Truth About Vacations with Friends

Illustration: Juergen D'souza

I’m seated inside a cab, late for a train and frantically hoping that I will make it in time. Last week, heading to the hills to explore nature seemed like a splendid idea when my friends and I were comfortably lounging on a living room couch. But right now, soaked in a layer of panic-induced sweat, I’m wondering about my life decisions, looking back at those painfully dull hours I spent researching holiday destinations, booking places to stay, eat, shit, and repeat. Was it worth it?

The sad truth behind vacations as a young adult is that they usually start in some room where your band of thieves is getting drunk and thinking of taking a trip away from the city. At this stage, the plan seems like a cakewalk because alcohol and mentioning Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani go hand in hand. Instantly, your inner Bunny wants to pick up a rucksack and leave everything behind for a rollicking adventure with his dear compadres. Paying the bill or finishing up your drink doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the booze has made everyone as ready as you are.

However, once the beautiful effects of alcohol wear off, you wake up to the reality of planning your own getaway. This obstacle takes the form of a WhatsApp group that is the wellspring for a tidal wave of questions.

“How much money do we need?”

“Do we need to book a place to stay?”

“ Who will drive the car?”

“ Do we even have a car?”

“Can we wing any of this?”

I want to ask a question too: “Can you kick me in the balls instead?”

Vacations seemed more fun when we were children travelling with our families. You didn’t have to deal with any questions, budgets, savings, agents, or websites to pre-plan every breath you take out of the city. Your dad would just subtly mention how the family hasn’t been on any trips in a while at the dinner table, and then a few days later, your mom would ask you to give her some of your clothes to pack.

Family trips were about delicious meals, pleasant afternoon naps, swimming pool games, and a few touristy excursions, all done together as a team.

Having zero responsibilities was made even sweeter by the fact that your semester exams had just ended. Just the thought of curling up inside a hotel-room blanket was heaven. I was never picky about where my parents took me. Leaving my house for a few days to wander around until I was hungry/sleepy seemed like a great use of my time. I was free to indulge whatever fantasies I liked since my parents did a damn good job with the logistics of the trip. With parents around, the chances of you ending up starving, lost, and abandoned in some forest with no signs of human life are slim.

That danger increases exponentially when you’re planning your own holiday. Being a young adult on a vacation is like trying to finish multiple bucket lists at the same time. Things like making it on time, missing a train, covering all the popular spots, getting killer pictures, exploring hidden spots, getting enough food, and hopefully not blowing up all your money are constantly running through your head. And getting some time to rest to calm yourself is completely out of question during this stressful time. There’s always that one asshole friend who says, “If you came here to rest then you should’ve stayed at home.”

Well, fuck you, friend. I came here to chill. It’s things like these that make you feel like you’re less on a vacation and more on a shitty episode of The Amazing Race.

Family trips, on the other  hand, were never about exploring new places or trying new things. Family trips were about delicious meals, pleasant afternoon naps, swimming pool games, and a few touristy excursions, all done together as a team. There was a serene lack of annoying friends taunting you to get out of bed. Families don’t do that. In fact, families convince each other to sleep a while longer because it’s too sunny outside.

Being stricken by wanderlust sounds magnificently profound on Instagram, but try trekking in Gokarna heat on an empty stomach with no fluids to replenish your rapidly evaporating brain. You’ll go from wanderlust to abstinence so fast that no Imtiaz Ali film will reawaken your desire. It’s not that I hate going on these trips, I just hate that I find myself moving more, and resting less, which is antithetical to the very idea of taking a break.

My last holiday ended the same way it began – with me rushing to catch a train and hoping I won’t leave behind the phone charger yet again. But I did along with my phone. The only thing keeping me from bursting into tears was the warm memory of the time a younger me had fallen asleep on my mom’s shoulder as the car drove closer to home.

That younger me was happier and he also had no itching in awkward places. After all he did not spend his holidays in the same underwear.