Holidays, expectation vs reality

Beach Holiday


It’s this time of year that many of us are thinking about, or indeed going on our summer holidays. From weekend city breaks to weeks cruising the Med – whatever your ideal holiday situation, often these trips take months, if not years, to prepare for!

How much time have you spent perusing brochures, browsing the internet and looking through Trip Advisor reviews and holiday guides, not to mention the minutes or hours you spend thinking about it and counting down until the big trip! Naturally there is often a lot of excitement, anticipation and expectations.

Whether you’re going on holiday this summer with your family, a group of friends or you’re travelling with your partner, summer holidays can be amazing or awful or something in between…

What makes the difference between amazing or awful? What makes the difference is your expectations which don’t match the reality.

The dictionary definition of an “expectation” is the strong belief that something will happen. Basically, expectations are the pictures in our head of what we think will happen.

Expectations are not the same as agreements!


You’re all very good friends and you all like doing the same things, so it’s entirely logical that you’ll have a great time on holiday together and you’ll all agree on what to do and where to go when you get there.


You all have a picture in your head of what you want to do on holiday. The problem is everyone’s picture is different. So you all end up compromising and no one really enjoys their holiday.


Mum sees herself collapsed by the pool with a book, she deserves this break from school runs, cooking and cleaning; Dad sees himself out on the water, surfing, sailing and scuba diving, it’s an escape from his highly stressful, desk bound job that he doesn’t enjoy but it pays the bills, he can’t wait to let off steam; their children see a massive swimming pool and non stop ‘stuff’ to do.


The pool is too small, there’s nowhere quiet to read, the cost of day trips on a boat, or water skiing is exorbitant and nothing quite matches the promises made in the glossy brochure.

Expectations equal disappointment. That isn’t to say there aren’t times when your expectations are met and you feel great about it, but if you think they’re going to met automatically, it’s a recipe for anxiety, stress and disaster!

So how can you avoid disaster?

The opposite of expectation is agreement.

How often do you talk about what you each want to do on holiday? I bet it isn’t as much as you think – we make assumptions, which lead to expectations. So communication is key but even if you are talking, I wonder if you are actually getting agreement between everyone as to what each person wants to do.

Make a plan, get agreement, it might not work out the way you want when you arrive at your fabulous villa or hotel, but at least you will all know in advance what you’ve agreed and what you all expect!

Sometimes communication with our families is one of the hardest things to do. We think we know what they think, what they like, what makes them tick, so we don’t bother to ask the really important questions.

If this is you and you’re struggling to have meaningful conversations, let me know and let’s see how you can make changes.

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