Why we need to shift from public to private holidays and live life on our own terms
Is waking up to a new year with headlines like this one from ABC News “Victorians race to get home ahead of COVID border closure, leaving NSW tourism operators in tears” a prompt for radical change in how we work, live and even holiday.
This is the advice that was broadcast on the afternoon of New Years Eve “Victorian travellers in NSW who arrived back in their home state on Thursday would be required to have a COVID test and isolate at home until they had their results back, those that who make it home on Friday will need to isolate in their homes for 14 days, any Victorians returning from January 2 would be required to go through hotel quarantine for 14 days”.
The problem is holidays, not holidays themselves but the time we take out holidays, all at the same time. Why do we do that? Because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to do over generations.
This results in holidays being more expensive, higher accommodation rates, the need to book months in advance, traffic is a nightmare, then when you get there everything is busy, queues are long, restaurants are booked out, beaches are packed, and COVID-19 restrictions add to the challenge.
There are no winners here, the holiday makers lose and so do the accommodation providers and tourism operators. They need to ramp up their staff and services to cater for the short term 100% capacity over the Christmas/New year period only to do the opposite when everyone goes home soon after leaving their caravan parks, holiday apartments and hotels near empty until the next short holiday period several months later.
The current COVID situation is not going to change anytime soon so we need to change. It’s time to start thinking and doing differently, to break free of the conditioning of the past and adapt.
I’m going to suggest some radical, think outside the box, adapt to the current situation strategies that could resolve some of these problems, not all and possibly not for everyone but I believe it’s worthy of thought.
The foundation of this change is to stop holidaying when we are told to and start holidaying when it suits us.
Families take holidays over the Christmas/New Year period because schools are on holidays and there are public holidays that can be taken to reduce the impact on annual leave entitlements.
End result, everyone holidays at the same time and the aforementioned problems arise.
Public holidays were removed and the added to leave workers entitlements.
This would add nine days of leave entitlements for employees that could be taken at times that suit them. Opening up the opportunity for people to be creative and replace public holidays with self scheduled family and friends holiday breaks spread over the year. They can of course choose to take these days on Christmas, Boxing day etc but the choice is theirs.
Take your annual holidays outside of school holiday periods.
Is taking the kids out of school for a short period of time such a bad thing, yes it may be inconvenient, disruptive, but 2020 showed us it was possible. It will be easier to find accommodation, less expensive, less busy and more enjoyable.
Spend time working away from the workplace and home.
Many employees have had to work from home during COVID-19, workplaces have adapted, why not take this to the next level and instead of working from home travel somewhere else to combine work and adventure. This can work especially well for people with kids that have left home, but it’s also an option for families that are willing to work with schools for some short term flexible learning for their children.
What are the pros and cons?
There are benefits to be gained for employees, business owners, tourism operators and dare I say it governments.
Employees get to choose to holiday when it best suits them, with less crowds, pay less for their accommodation, travel with less traffic and stay more COVID safe.
Business owners will be able to operate more effectively for more days of the year without the burden and expense of paying public holiday rates.
Tourism operators will have their bookings spread more evenly over the year making it easier to manage, budget for and create sustainable employment opportunities.
Managing the kids education outside of school terms is a challenge, that being said education needs to change to make this easier.
Some employees rely on public holiday rates to boost their income.
The mindset shift needed
There is a shift in mindset needed as much as the physical change, breaking away from the conditioning of the past and adapting to the change that is upon us. I’m not saying we need to stop celebrating the various holiday occasions but do you really need really need to have a day off with the whole country for the Queens birthday (which incidentally is not her birthday anyway) or would you rather take that day off on a day you choose, to spend with family, friends or just you?
Would 29 annual leave days available to be taken at your choosing be a better option than 20 annual leave days at your choosing and 9 public holidays without choice?
It won’t stop Covid border closures or make them any more predictable, but it will lessen the flow-on impacts
I believe that 2021 is the opportunity to take control rather than be controlled by the circumstances forced upon us, to live our best lives, to seize the day.