Gareth from the Office: Going on a summer holiday

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HOW important is a holiday? And no I don’t mean time off work arranging your smashing CD collection or doing that housework you’ve been putting off for months – I mean a real holiday.

People always ask when I take time off from work where I’m going, or at least if I’m going away and I usually say I’m not doing anything. But this year I’m aiming for something different.

On average, around 60 million people will go away on holiday this year with around 45 million of those people travelling between June 25 and August 31.

Last year a third of Britons, or around 20 million people, took their holidays in Great Britain, an obvious show of patriotism? No I’d say it’s more to do with the credit crunch.

People are looking to go on ‘Staycations’ to save money and avoid the risk of being caught in another country due to an air travel strike – a factor that grounded a lot of holiday makers last summer.

Each year me and my friends have the same dilemma. We all want to go away but then can’t agree where, when and how much. And the inevitable happens where we all end up going nowhere or just spending our time off sorting out that important housework we’ve been putting off.

I haven’t been abroad for a few years and people ask me how I’ve coped and believe me it has been a bit of a downer at times. However, I am lucky that my mum owns a B&B in St Ives – Cornwall that is, not Cambridge.

This means my trip to see her can be counted as a break and the weather in the UK is always nice when the sun’s out. So why do I still crave the excitement that comes with leaving the country?

Before I started work here I seriously considered going travelling. I would have loved the experience of visiting new countries for a few months and the euphoria it has bought so many of the people I know who have done it. But fate dealt me a different hand and in many ways I’m so glad it did.

Believe me I have nothing against the UK, I love it in fact. It’s just the atmosphere of a trip away is so much more relaxed, the excitement of a flight, the culture of a new country – and the inevitable meeting of someone who also lives in Milton Keynes.

This year I will get away. I am tired of hearing about people’s holidays and seeing their tans while the inconsistent British weather robs me of mine.

I want people to be asking where I got my tan, not why I’m whiter than Casper the ghost’s albino cousin.

So if anyone is planning to go away for some fun in the sun and has an extra seat available on that flight to the Caribbean then count me in.