You’ll hear and say it lots of times in the days running up to your summer break or dream getaway. ‘I’m in holiday mode.’
What those four words actually mean is – ‘I’m going to get ripped off for everything I buy for the next seven days and buy a load of crap I would never ordinarily need, but I don’t give a rat’s ass as I’m on me jollies.’
It all starts at the airport. Only of course after you’ve paid £1 just to enter the airport car park. Ridiculous. Once checked-in, excitement builds for what is essentially two hours of nothingness before boarding. I once spoke to an expert in airport retail and he explained this was the ‘golden hours’ for retailers that involved captivated (or captured) and impulsive shoppers with loads of cash and a mindset that is basically ‘if it’s ‘holiday money’ then it basically means everything is free.’ Nowadays, the departure board even calls it ‘shopping time.’
Now, you’re on board. And because you’re in holiday mode, a packet of Pringles a can of Magners (I’ll come back to Magners in a minute) and a G&T is a veritable steal at just £15. Madness. On our recent holiday, we flew with Thomson. As the crew/waiting staff announced that the state-of-the-art 1987 TV VCR system was not working for the four hour flight, they conveniently had Sony PSPs to hire for just €7.50. The pester-power of children erupted around us. Brilliant.
Europe is outrageously expensive and I will use the wee example of Magners Cider. The stuff that until two years was unknown. But having been masterfully repositioned as the ‘summer drink’ and marketed astonishingly well across Europe, the drink that is essentially Strongbow in drag now commands some kind of premium. Let’s face it. Magners is for men like me who quite frankly can’t stomach six pints of lager but can get away with a sweet tasting pint-sized drink that helps ensure we don’t prematurely turn to the Bacardi-Breezer at an early stage of the evening and get mocked until you cry or at least do six consecutive shots as an apology to the group. I have been to three European destinations this summer and Magners consistently sells as €7 a bottle. Well over £6 for what is essentially fizzy alcoholic apple juice in a glass bottle actually shows the brilliance of a brand that has reinvented a sector that just three years ago was associated only with the farmers and chavs at the bus stops.
So, you get the picture. Holiday mode is a license for brands to charge what they want. And we’re daft enough to pay because God damn it (here is the justification), I work so hard all year and deserve to spend a fortune.
Thankfully, we don’t have kids as I imagine this whole situation cranks up several notches. I do however have a wife.
We came on holiday with factor 15 and factor 25 sun cream… whatever that means. After day one, the 25 is gone. I innocently suggest we can just use the 15. Absolutely not is the damning reply from the wife who then goes on to explain it is essential that we come down ‘5 at a time.’ She’s a Doctor and I can’t really be bothered for a lecture on skin cancer. It’s not one of my favourite holiday subjects. But do I point out that it is these same manufacturers that insist this is what we do? A brilliant marketing tactic clearly well PR’ed in glossy mags to get people to buy as many bottles of product as possible. I’m sure there are legitimate scientific arguments behind this theory and I’m sure a lot of wealthy doctors with significant supplementary income. Then, like a bolt of lighting, the silver lining appears. I hatch a plan. If we play our cards right, maybe I can get the Mrs / Doc on this road of extra income. And, as I’m sure every man across the world can relate to, I simply say ‘Yes dear’ and hand her my wallet.
Five minutes later as the wife arrives to the pool, she gives me this freshly purchased bottle of factor 20 sun cream and forbids me to even think about the 15 until at least tomorrow. At this point, I look at the price sticker. €15. That’s right, €15 for what I bet is essentially a massive vat of sugar-less condensed milk that they cleverly re-brand as sun cream. Yes I’m Indian. Yes I’m tight. But come on. €15 for a little bottle of sun cream. As I sit in the sun and think in my head of the great things I could have spent that money on…beer, chips, room service, five slush puppies or even TWO Magners…I suddenly don’t care anymore and think ‘ah, who gives a crap, I’m on my holiday’.