The phrases ‘credit crunch’ and ‘belt tightening’ have cropped up so often and inevitably they seep into our sub conscious. Yet according to Travelsupermarket, 96% of respondents surveyed said they planned to get away at least once in a year. I suppose what we need to consider is how we can develop canny habits regarding the way we spend both our money and time to make the most of any holiday investment.
With the UK climate having a change around we can never really predict the weather but in Italy Springtime is still a season of balmy weather and the most spectacular wild flowers. So my plan last year was to have a holiday which combined a number of constituents to make my money stretch that little bit further.
I booked a painting holiday in Sicily and found I could indulge my passion for flora and fauna, enjoy the beautiful Sicilian landscape and also work on a pastime that I rarely have time to pursue. This also meant I made use of the beautiful watercolour paints given as a birthday present, which had lain largely untouched.
There you see, don’t say I am not savvy with money!
Having booked my holiday early I took advantage of an early bird discount and carefully planned a saving regime, which included my spending money and other expenses I might incur on my travels. It also gave me the impetus to get some painting done so that I had questions to ask my tutor and had an idea of what I wanted from my painting holiday. This was a smart move as I made sure I used the considerable help and advice on offer and returned home full of ideas and new found confidence.
I also made the decision to travel off peak and the Spring really was a glorious time to visit Sicily where the hills roll onto the horizon uninterrupted. By booking in advance there was no last minute panic and additional spending as a consequence of having to sort things quickly. Silly things like pre-ordering my currency and actually shopping around for the best deal helped. As part of my new year’s resolution, having been given one of those insulated cups for Christmas, I took my own coffee on the bus in the morning and stopped visiting a certain coffee shop for muffin and Macchiato. It’s absolutely amazing how much I saved. Each day I put the equivalent in a piggy bank and to my shame it added up to around £30 a week and went a long way to paying for my flight.
Having booked my holiday, with meals included, I was able to budget and I didn’t have to pay that annoying single supplement either which was a real bonus! Also as I was out in the landscape most of the day painting there was little inclination, or in fact ready temptation to spend. It was glorious just concentrating on the flowers and my representation of them. It cleared my mind and made me realise how much I missed looking closely at the countryside and doing something so totally different from my everyday life in London.
A Painting holiday was actually worth every penny, not only was I able to indulge a passion and learn something new but I experienced this process far away from the stresses and strains of home and came back feeling both relaxed and enriched.
It does appear to be increasingly difficult to take breaks from the ceaseless round of social media, emails, meetings, calls and the 24/7 nature of contemporary work practises. Yet these breaks are probably more important than they ever have been.
So if you are considering taking a painting, Pilates or Cooking course with Flavours this year, do not dismiss it as an idle dream, make a plan, consider what it would actually do for you and contemplate having some fun. Life really is too short to forgo every treat and Spring in Italy really is a tremendous tonic.
I intend to have a few days away in Venice this year in April and look forward to painting both at the Flavours villa and on the canals; I may well see you there. Click here to see what’s on offer.