We all need a holiday now and again – it could be a day off from the usual chores or a full-blown trip away. I am happy to settle for the former - there’s no pressure on what to put in a suitcase, what should go in the carry-on luggage or where to store the necessary travel documents. Do you remember in the not too far distant past, having a proper travel ticket for a flight? It had umpteen tear-off layers with print you could hardly read, and everyone you met on your journey tore off one of those flimsy sheets with a smile. I remember tearing off one in error before I had even started a trip, and ended up panicking and frantically scrabbling down the sides of the sofa to locate it.

Travel Light

If I do go away, I am a sucker for packing too much, and they say shoes are the biggest space-taker-upper when you are limited to a set weight. Don’t overdo the shoes - three pairs are more than enough. I read a phrase somewhere ‘the good, the glam and the sturdy’ to be a shoe mantra – the good being some good smart sliders that you can travel in and wear with anything, the glam being something strappy and black for evenings and the sturdy, being your trainers or some Birkenstock-type flats that can handle a day of sightseeing or a walk on the beach. (Well, for the ladies anyway. Many men seem to manage with a one-pair-fits-all-arrangement).

Pick a Palette

Colours, colours, colours – lovely though they may be, they don’t always complement each other, and you could end up taking loads of stuff that doesn’t go with anything else, so best to stick to a small mix-and-match policy - black, white and neutrals are trusty safe options that will be easy to wear together (though I would see needing colours as an opportunity to go shopping while away!)

Something to read

For your time to relax, you could treat yourself to a magazine or two, or settle on a new book. I am a big fan of the Kindle-type device, where you can take a bit of time before travelling to load up a good few books before you even leave the house, and perhaps explore an unknown author or catch up on a classic. Or treat yourself to an audible version – I have never done this, but it must be a bit like being read to as a child!

Travel Documents

Ladies can usually conjure up a bag big enough to carry everything in, but just make sure you keep your money and travel documents somewhere safe and handy, so you don’t embarrass yourself turning out old supermarket receipts at Customs if going abroad. Ideally a big with a zippered section is safe and ideal, and for men, a ‘manbag’ is not only useful but a fashion statement these days, so no excuses for stuffing everything in your back pocket, where it would be a magnet for some light-fingered thief.

Not Going Away

If you take a much-needed day off from the routine of everyday instead, give yourself some treats. Act like a tourist, go walking, take in some views, go out somewhere for coffee and ’people-watch’! It doesn’t have to be anywhere grand or expensive, just somewhere you haven’t been before maybe, or take a trip to the shopping mall and try on clothes just for the hell of it. if you have a car, go exploring down that road you always wondered where it led to, or head off to a town picked at random from a map.

How important is a break?

Not taking enough breaks leads to burnout and higher stress levels. The benefits of breaks could be increased productivity, improved mental health and well-being, and to help us unwind and recharge our minds. As the saying goes: ‘How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterwards’. Even just getting your feet off after a busy day, turning your brain off and watching TV could be a holiday in itself.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan