Travel tips and advice: The 20 things we only do on holidays

We all have them. Strange little foibles. Rituals that have become an intrinsic part of any holiday. It doesn't matter if you're visiting somewhere new or the same place you've been to every summer for the last 30 years – if you don't do a certain activity or eat a certain food, it just feels wrong. Like the holiday somehow didn't count.

We all have our fair share of curious holiday habits. Some of them will sound very familiar, others... perhaps not.

1. Drink booze at 6am

The one advantage of the timeless, twilight-zone quality of the airport is that it's perfectly acceptable to get yourself a drink before your flight. Even if it's 6am. Hey – it's 5pm somewhere.

2. Go on an airport shopping spree


Photo: Alamy

This could be because you like a bargain and are saving on tax. It could also be because you get to the airport and realise that you left packing until the last minute and aren't as prepared as you should be. Whatever the reason, the hour before your flight is usually spent buying more travel adaptors, armfuls of sweets, another pair of headphones, and unnecessary clothes. "Every single time I visit an airport, I simply have to buy a shirt," said one of our editors. "It's pretty much the only clothes shopping I ever do."

3. Take a taxi

You wouldn't dream of getting a taxi at home. It's public transport, walking, or, at a push, a service like Uber or Swift. But all reservations about pricey taxis go out of the window as soon as you touch down on foreign soil. Who cares about the cost? You're getting a taxi to the hotel. You can work out the public transport system after a drink. Or not.

4. Pay too much for hotel extras

You never eat macadamia nuts at home. But when you find them in a little jar beside the mini-bar. Must... eat... nuts....

Whether it's splashing out $8 on a stingy tub of Pringles or indulging in an extortionately overpriced and often mediocre cocktail at the actual bar, we're suckers for shelling out too much for little extras at our hotel. Partly because we're so tired after our journey, partly because we're on holiday, so just past caring.

5. Refuse help with your bags


Photo: Alamy


You finally make it to your hotel and are asked "can I take your bags?" The answer is a resounding "no". You've carted them to the airport, checked them in, lugged them off the baggage carousel, wheeled them to your crushingly expensive taxi and, in some instances, managed to get them from the taxi to the check-in desk. After all that, you're damned if you'll start paying someone to move your bags at this late stage in the game.

6. Take advice from your waiter

You tell Australian waiters what you want and then watch them scurry away. But waiters on holiday are another matter entirely. You activitely seek their advice - and take it - without a second thought. And not just on the best dishes to order, but where to shop, the best sights, and the quickest way back to the hotel.

7. Talk to strangers

On holiday, suddenly everyone wants to make new friends. How many times have you struck up a conversation with the next table at a restaurant at home? Strut into a beachside taverna, however, and you're suddenly a socialite.

8. Commit theft (sort of)


Photo: Alamy

Now we don't mean bathrobes or towels. But after being charged so much for those macadamia nuts, we try to get our revenge on the hotel by pinching little things – espresso capsules, shampoo, shower gel... Sometimes there's a sewing kit that finds its way into your bag, never to be used.

9. Check the weather forecast in another location

Don't believe anyone that tells you they don't this. They're lying. Everyone checks the weather at home, just to make sure it's raining.

10. Overestimate your reading needs

It takes you weeks to get through a novel at home, what with kids, chores, work, Netflix... Yet you always pack at least five kilos of literature for your seven-night break. And then read three chapters because your children have made their own holiday plans that don't involve reading.

11. Eat food you don't normally eat


Photo: Alamy

All routine goes out the window. Breakfast? Goodbye cornflakes, hello slabs of smoked salmon, cornichons, and a big slice of cake from the hotel buffet. Holidays seem to involve eating your own body weight in fish. Perhaps it's a by-product of being close to the sea. You suddenly want to eat it all.

Then there's the sheer childlike wonder of visiting the local supermarket to see what weird and wonderful things the locals like to eat and trying as many of them as you can. Often against your own better judgement. You only live once, right?

12. Take part in eating challenges

Usually reserved for the final night. And usually one for dad, in a desperate bid to impress the kids and win a T-shirt.

13. Sleep in the afternoon

Maybe it's because the shops have closed. Maybe it's too much sun. Maybe it's all that salmon. Whatever the reason, afternoon naps only become a fixture twice a year: at Christmas and on holiday.

14. Buy postcards you never send – and other pointless tat


Photo: Alamy

How many unused postcards are out there in the world? It must be millions. They're a great momento – they have the name of your location printed in big letters across a picture so it's easy to remember exactly where you were. They you get home and put it in a shoebox under the bed. Never to be seen again.

The same is true of fridge magnets, thimbles and cheap destination-specific tat – generally bought from a street hawker. Carved Sudanese pyramid? Solar-powered Japanese sumo-wrestler figure? Tuk tuk made out of a coke can? Yeah, go on then...

15. Get lost

Some like to do this on purpose. There's no better or quicker way of learning a city then getting lost. It helps to have a map if you get desperate. But make sure it's a paper one. Google Maps sucks you into its reassuring warmth so quickly that soon you'll be walking around with your head stuck in your phone, failing to notice that you're strolling past the Eiffel Tower.

16. Visit obscure museums

<i>The Icelandic Phallological Museum, Iceland</i>

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, Iceland Photo: Alamy

Imagine your better half suggesting a Saturday afternoon trip to the local ethnographical museum to see a smashing new ceramics exhibition. You'd call the exorcist. But on a city break suddenly the most obscure cultural attractions develop a magnetic pull. But darling, the guidebook says it's one of Hungary's six best museums...

17. Watch Bloomberg

We all do it. Knowing full well that in some countries, the only channel we might be able to get in English is BBC World or Bloomberg. Which will be showing something particularly dry like a long report on Singapore's economy. Some also buy a local newspaper. That they can't read. To add to the box with the postcards.

18. Gamble on random duty-free at the airport

Why keep those leftover euros for your next trip to the Med when you can buy ouzo now? Nearly everyone has an odd bottle of booze in the cupboard, sticky and gathering dust, that was too intriguing to resist at the airport – banana-flavoured Malibu, limoncello, coconut-flavoured Bacardi, snake wine... You end up trying to foist it off on friends that you think are drunk enough not to notice how terrible it is at Christmas parties.

19. Purchase a Toblerone

Toblerone: Available at airports universally.

Toblerone: Available at airports universally. Photo: Alamy

Are Toblerones bought anywhere else apart from airports? People do, of course, spend an obscene amount of money on other overpriced confectionary, but these triangular treats seem to be a firm favourite.

20. Buy your favourite Aussie food the moment you get back

There's always something that you buy as soon as you touch down on home soil. Most Australians heading away for any time longer than a weekend will suffer separation anxiety for being deprived of Vegemite on toast and a decent flat white. And we all know Aussies do coffee better than any other country in the world.

The Telegraph, London

See also: Sorry world, Australia's coffee is better than yours

See also: The secret to getting into airport lounges when you're flying economy