Summer vacations are just around the corner. I am usually quick off the block to plan a trip with my daughter, Chhavi. Last year we visited Koh Samui together and we had amazing fun.
Before that my niece, daughter and I went to Prague. My sister and I have travelled to Budapest and Paris on vacations. I am quite used to applying for a Schengen Visa. When I did the formalities for the first time, I remember I was surprised that the Schengen countries have an approved list of travel insurance companies.
However, this year has been different. I have never been so confused as to where to go. I am torn between taking a simple vacation vs taking my daughter to a place where she can play tennis as well. Chhavi started playing tennis in 2017 and within two years she started playing tournaments as well.
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) April 6, 2019
Life was a little less hectic before. Now every holiday means extra practice. Twice a month we go around NCR to play matches. In tennis, All India Tennis Association is the apex body that runs a national league popularly known as AITA. She plays in under 12 and 14 age categories as of now. Contrary to all expectations, she won her very first match of Under 12. By the virtue of that one win she has a ranking of 539 or so in the country. The ranking is of course a dynamic thing and changes from week to week!
Before tennis, choices were simple. She would go to school, play in the park in the evening and we were free to travel in all her vacations. Now there is tennis practice and matches to juggle with school!
My original plan was that we will go out in June to a European country. Within Europe, I prefer a Schengen country as it gives me some flexibility to travel around. Schengen visa travel insurance is also easy. We would combine tennis with a vacation.
But I am not so sure now. Her practice is going on well with her coach, Aman Rawat. I am reluctant to break her rhythm. On the other hand, I feel she is not getting any break so we should simply go on a vacation. Going by this idea I start looking at the air fares and then I feel if I am going to spend so much money; why not add a week of tennis in it! I keep chasing these ideas within my head without reaching anywhere!
Another thought is to take a quick short break on one of the long weekends when the school is open and only focus on tennis during the summer holidays. The difficult part is that I am not feeling peaceful with any of these choices. I keep over thinking without arriving at any decision.
Then I ask the child what she wants, and she says, “Whatever you decide!” So, we go back to square one! She doesn’t seem too keen on an extended weekend break! So, I somehow must find a way to make something work in the summer vacation itself or convince her to take a break later! But before I do anything, I need to make up my own mind. Who thought taking a summer vacation could be this tough!
I have mixed feelings about summer holidays. On one hand it makes family travel easy, on the other it turns the whole of India and beyond into fish market! As we Indians are family oriented and over 1 billion, summer vacations mean crowds, high prices and a wait everywhere. And I am not a fan of any of these!
I immediately denounce the usual suspects in the hills like Manali and Shimla as I know they will be beyond crowded. Luckily we all love to travel to offbeat destinations which are low on luxury but otherwise amazing.
The other problem with summer vacations is the weather. Everywhere other than the high hills is hot! North India starts to bake slowly putting places like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh out of equation. Actually I have been to Madhya Pradesh in June. I enjoyed my morning and evening safaris in Kanha but I had strict instructions to stay indoors in AC otherwise during the day. They served lunch in the room itself! It was not a bad deal but I was alone on that trip. I am not sure how feasible this would be with kids!
South India can fare marginally better weather wise in places like Coorg and Munnar. But Coorg Resorts, even bigger ones like Orange County would get crowded in vacations. Kerala Resorts start offering discounted prices too.
I think offbeat North East India would be a good choice for summer vacations as the weather will be good and it would still not be too crowded. But somehow the flights to offbeat places are so expensive that I can take a foreign vacation in the same price! And that is why I love to travel when everyone else is at work and kids are in school!
However as my girls are growing up I too need to plan vacations more in line with their school holidays. This year I intelligently took them abroad in the small break they have before the major summer break. It was quite alright to go then. Not too many people at the airport, the destination was also not crowded and the weather was nice. I think I am going to seize on the smaller break more and more.
It is that time of the year again when a lot of people will plan to travel. After all it would be summer vacation time soon! Destinations would be discussed and debated, mountain vs sea debates will flare up.
However I stand aloof and do not join in the excitement. For one even though my daughter goes to school, she is still quite small. So, traveling on extended weekends is not a problem. Two, everyone and their relatives will be planning to travel during the school holidays. That leads to trains getting booked within minutes of becoming available for reservation, increased airfares, costlier hotels and food and what not.
I often stay away from traveling during summer vacations, at least to the popular spots. But I met my nemesis once, in Hong Kong. My daughter, niece and I traveled to Hong Kong in 2014. My daughter’s passport has just arrived and I decided to take her and my niece on their first trip abroad. So far so good.
We landed in Hong Kong safe and sound. As the trip was with the kids the main thing on the list was the Disneyland. However we did not know that August was the school holiday time in Hong Kong. On top of that we went to the Disneyland on a Sunday. It was a hot day too. As soon as I got down from the bus, I noted the location of the taxi stand. I had a suspicion that the girls might wish to go back early, much before the 9.00 pm fireworks!
I have grant it to them, the kids were good sport. They did not complain much for waiting in the lines that formed in front of various rides. For almost every ride the wait time was 40 to 60 minutes! By four in the evening the kids told me they wanted to go back home! Off we went to the taxi counter and to our hotel! That is what summer vacations can do to your travel! So while you plan to travel in the school holidays, I think I am going to take it easy!