Travel Confession: I went on a package holiday (and I liked it)


Feet photobomb That first moment on the sunlounger… pure bliss © Emma Sparks

‘Welcome to Lanzarote everybody! Can I get a round of applause for our driver, Manolo?’, our smiley holiday rep, Samantha, encourages us over the coach mic. The holidaymakers around me whoop and clap. Eye twitching, I put my hands together slowly and cringe a half smile.

I consider myself an independent traveller, yet there I was, on a Thomson package holiday in the Canary Islands.

Why? Well firstly I was with my mum, and she deserved a break from me carting her around Europe on a shoestring. I wanted to treat her to a truly relaxing break, minimal effort required.

Secondly, I left things late on the organisation front and frankly didn’t have time to sit down and compare flights, accommodation and dates as I usually would.

Basically, I was being lazy.

Ah ha, I hear you say. Makes sense you’d go on a package holiday then.

Well you’re half right. Laziness isn’t a prerequisite on package holidays, but it’s hardly frowned upon. This trip involved far less map-wielding and a lot more indulgence than my usual jaunts abroad, but for that I refuse to be judged.

The ‘be a traveller, not a tourist’ cliché is boring; what became increasingly clear to me - as I sipped my cocktail by the pool - was that it is attitude, not circumstance, that makes your experience. I may have chosen this holiday as a chance to unwind (hello afternoon naps and a massage at the hotel spa), but I wasn’t about to become a gormless tourist stereotype with no respect for (or even awareness of) my surroundings.

Cocktails in Lanzarote Cocktails by the pool? Don’t mind if I do © Emma Sparks

Sure, sharing a tour bus with 20 overexcited families made me feel like a caged animal, but the unbeatable views of Timanfaya National Park were worth it.

Timanfaya National Park Timanfaya National Park © Emma Sparks

And yes,certain guests at our hotel (Pueblo Marinero) managed to nab the best sun-loungers with their towels before dawn - but luckily there were still plenty to go around. And as I’d chosen a no-kids-allowed hotel, I mostly had the catalogue-cut-out pool to myself!

Lanzarote A child-free pool was perfect for me © Emma Sparks

Perhaps I just chose the right location. Playa Blanca, on the cragged volcanic south coast of Lanzarote is hardly Benidorm. The local market (Tues & Sat) was a little tacky for my taste and the pitchy squawks of karaoke would often reach your ears on the cool evening breeze, but the oceanfront promenade from the marina to Playa Blanca town was perfect for a hassle-free stroll at sunset, and the opportunities to branch out and explore were certainly there…

And we took one or two, which I’ll be writing about soon. So if this hasn’t convinced you, then those future posts might.

There you have it - I confess. I took a package holiday and by golly it was good. Amusingly, when a colleague in Australia (who shall remain unnamed) heard I’d spent a week in Lanzarote, he e-mailed me something along these lines: ‘Wow, Lanzarote? So intrepid! Just off the coast of West Africa right? Awesome!’ Little did he know that the Canary Islands are something akin to Bali for Aussies…

It’s all about attitude right?

This was an independent (sort of!) trip. ie. No blogger freebies!

Flights from Gatwick to Arrecife, transfers to accommodation and 7 nights in 4* Pueblo Marinero, Playa Blanca with a twin bed apartment (self catering) and late check-out for two people cost £1300.

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