Monday Musings 7 September: That holiday feeling

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Missing that holiday feeling? Now that Mzansi is open and spring is colouring the ground in a kaleidoscope of shades, travel-hungry South Africans are bounding out of doors to breathe in the fresh air and explore. Turns out the joy of that holiday feeling has far more important and long-term benefits than just a boost to your sanity and a cure to your cabin fever.

What’s on the holiday agenda

In news to make the travel industry sing, and definitely a silver lining on those clouds, O.R. Tambo anticipates more than 210,000 passengers in September 2020.

While the forecast figure is only 12% of what the airport would have experienced before the pandemic, O.R. Tambo International Airport General Manager, Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, explained they are rebuilding pretty much from zero.

On the global scale, here are year to date arrival numbers across the world. Interestingly, one of the top destinations in sub-Saharan Africa by searches for trips in the first quarter of 2021, from the source markets of France, Germany, the UK and USA is – did you guess it? – South Africa. Our Msanzi ranked in the number one and two spots for these source markets according to the study. The rest of the world seems to recognise that South Africa is indeed travel ready. Now to convince those on the home front…

Taking the top spot is the very cool experience of seeing the Northern Lights. Long a “traditional bucket-list favourite,” witnessing the surreal Aurora Borealis dance across the skies in Iceland is currently the top travel experience Brits want post-pandemic.

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The Brits are also set to get a brand new £24million tourist attraction. Visitors will be able to step into the Seven Kingdoms of Game of Thrones. Sets including Dragonstone’s Throne Room and Map Room, Castle Black’s Mess Room, Cersei’s Courtyard in King’s Landing, and even Winterfell will be opened to the public at the Linen Mill filming studios in Banbridge. No opening date has been set.

If you’re in Nigeria and are missing the aeroplane experience, turns out you don’t actually need to take to the skies. A creative Nigerian restaurant has put their thinking caps on and taken to the skies (imaginatively) by recreating the flight experience in their restaurant.

The appropriately named Urban Air restaurant in Abuja offers diners the chance to sit in an aeroplane-inspired setting beside aeroplane ‘windows’ complete with fluffy white clouds outside, choose from a flight-themed menu, and be served by air hostesses emerging from the ‘cockpit.’ The redesigned ‘inflight’ restaurant opened on 15 August and has welcomed about 100 air travel nostalgic customers a day since opening.

Hold on to that holiday feeling

You may think that just because you can’t use your passport, there’s no need to take those leave days and enjoy a holiday. That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do, caution experts. International trips may only be in the planning and dreaming stages, but thankfully South Africa is open and ready to be explored. Don’t discount the positive mental and emotional effects of the travel planning stage either.

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According to the National Institutes of Health, simply planning a future trip can spark immeasurable joy. And getting into an adventurous headspace can remind us of the power of travel.

Not only does travelling domestically give a much-needed boost to the local travel and tourism industry, but holidays are essential for mental and creative health, as well as productivity and business success.

This Harvard Business Review article highlights that multiple studies show that productivity crashes and burns when individuals, be it employees or elite athletes, work for extended periods without breaks.

While you may not be able to be sunning on the beach in Mauritius or soaking up the sun in Tuscany (just yet), here are some recommended guidelines on how to reap holiday benefits, whether you’re travelling locally or just staying at home.

  • Get a change in scenery
  • Plan ahead
  • Identify the type of experience you want to have
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Unplug
  • Create memories

Are we all a little weird now?

No matter the length of time or the destination, that holiday feeling is proven to boost mental health and productivity. Which begs the next question? Productivity is great but is that the same thing as efficiency? We often focus much more on being efficient, streamlining tasks and squeezing as much as we can into our days. Productivity mastermind Seth Godin cautions that “being efficient is not the same as being productive. Productive is the skill of getting the right things done.” In short, you need to focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent.

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If you’re concerned that all the time behind a Zoom screen is making you forget how to interact socially, you’re not alone. Apparently, we’re all socially awkward now, just another unexpected and unfortunate side effect of the pandemic.

Just like muscles that atrophy from lack of use, so too do our social skills. This New York Times article reports that we are “subtly but inexorably losing our facility and agility in social situations – whether we are aware of it or not. The signs are everywhere: people oversharing on Zoom, overreacting to or misconstruing one another’s behavior, longing for but then not really enjoying contact with others.”

If you’re thinking that person next to you in the grocery aisle is acting a bit weird, chances are, so are you. Make an effort to maintain social connections, smile at that weird stranger and be kind and patient with one another as we all adjust to our mutual weirdness.

Keep on smiling

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While the Capetonians are enjoying much-anticipated sunset strolls and sundowners on the beach, it seems another Cape Town resident is doing much the same. A caracal was spotted casually taking a sunset stroll amongst the rocks on Clifton 1st Beach on Thursday, 3 September.

In another proudly Mzansi moment, our very own Siya Kolisi has become the global face of Adidas.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Los Angeles Times reported that pilots have been spotting ‘A Guy in a Jetpack’ flying over L.A.

According to the flight log, here’s how the conversation went with the AA pilot:

AA Pilot: “Tower, American 1997. We just passed a guy in a jetpack.”

Control tower person: “Only in L.A.”

While we don’t think we will be trading our airline seat for a jetpack just yet, it seems that the love of travel – regardless of the mode of transport – is not going to disappear into the clouds anytime soon.

Let’s hold on to those holiday feelings.

Stay safe & strong!

The Big Ambitions team

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