Are there any circumstances under which people won’t go on holiday?
In summer 1917, Russia was three years into a war that it was losing badly, there had been a revolution in February and there would be another one in October, and after that there would be years of civil war. Casualties in the army were shocking, as were civilian deaths from hunger and disease. Everything was chaotic and unstable; all that was solid had melted into air.
But when Lenin fled from possible arrest in St Petersburg in July 1917, leaving from Sestroretsk Station, the terminus for a small coastal railway, the trains were busy with holidaymakers:
It was the peak of the summer season and the trains were packed with middle-class passengers leaving the capital and going off to enjoy the seaside and the fresh air.1
My wife works in a holiday letting agency in the English Lake District and it’s been crazily busy since lockdown ended, pandemic or no pandemic. Every property, no matter how poor, has been occupied for months. Much of the time people don’t even know where they’re staying; it’s enough to be away. There are guests who are so elderly and infirm that they have oxygen tanks delivered at the beginning of their stay; others complain about imperfect (i.e. non-intensive care unit standard) hygiene because they’ve recently had a transplant and are on immunosuppressant drugs. One person who had just had her spleen removed was shocked to be advised against using the jacuzzi.
Back in March people were still arriving for new stays and trying to extend existing bookings and make new bookings right up to lockdown. Now, as we approach another possible lockdown, there are plenty of cancellations, but within hours many newly vacant properties are rebooked. For weeks and months people have been coming from places in local lockdown and then tier II and III areas. Would-be holidaymakers were also turned away during lockdown itself, of course, having to be intercepted by the police.
So I suppose the answer is, no, there aren’t any circumstances under which people won’t at least attempt to go on holiday.
Paul Fishman (Cumbria, October 2020)
1. Robert Service 2002 Lenin: A Biography (London: Pan Macmillan) p 287↩