Monday, November 29, 1999

Holiday with friends

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If there's one travel trend that's become big in India, it's huge groups of friends vacationing together. Weirdly enough, among a certain set it's almost the norm, with holidays just with immediate family being relegated to a weekend somewhere, maximum once a year.A friend of mine is on her way for an ambitious holiday in the US that includes a cruise, Las Vegas and a week in Disneyland with some close friends and their families. They're a group of 28 people travelling together for almost a month. I tried to dissuade her by pointing out that she'll have no escape route, trapped in the luxury liner. But she pointed out that she won't need to entertain her kids, since they'll be entirely consumed with the 15 other children around, leaving her with plenty of time to do her own thing.Disney Parks, the international theme resort that has always attracted large groups have recently launched in India with a variety of travel packages. At Hong Kong Disney and Euro Disney, they rearrange a restaurant for large groups, throw in a personal holiday planner and provide babysitters. From a parent's perspective, there's some logic to these grand clan breaks: basically the pressure is off the mom and dad. Personally, I think you're better off not testing friendships with tediously long vacations, unless they're such good friends that you can tell them to shut up and not worry about causing offence. A poll of 3,400 adults conducted in Britain revealed that 55 per cent of friends holidaying together have two serious arguments during their stay, while an unlucky seven per cent have even returned home within the first few days. The most common causes of conflict are personality clashes and different opinions concerning activities and money.Yet, since people live in different countries and have hectic work schedules, catching up is never easy. Bonding with old friends during holiday trips can be hugely enriching provided the boundaries are well established. The trick is in the length of the vacation: a week can be great fun while ten days could become maddeningly long. Chances are since you're with friends, there will be similar interests: the clashes happen if one person wants to chill on the beach while the others want to explore ruins in mid-day heat. A break in Phuket, with two school friends and husbands minus kids turned out to be one of my best holidays ever despite one massive argument on sex tourism in Thailand, where words like "sexist jerk" were flying about. The way to resolve it was to change the topic, to lighter issues like what to eat for dinner.(hutkayfilms )

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