Weekends away keep blues at bay

By Vanessa Wiltshire

NOW that holidays are over, are you struggling with the ‘back to work blues’?

If so, you’re not alone.

Also known as the ‘post-Christmas slump’, experts say that feelings of demotivation and lethargy after summer holidays is common.

While many things can help, such as reliving holiday experiences through photos and talking about them with friends, one of the best things you can do is book your next holiday, says Dr Melissa Weinberg of the School of Psychology at Deakin University.

However, if you’re working full time, on a tight budget, or both, this is not always realistic.

Happily, a recent report by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia may have the answer.

The report, titled Real Richness Australia, revealed the benefits of camping and caravanning, particularly over short and frequent trips, like weekends.

The report stated that 95% of campers surveyed said that camping reduced stress levels.

It was also found that people who regularly undertake caravan or camping trips are nearly twice as happy and satisfied with life while being five times less lonely than non-campers.

Kristy Webster, property manager at Todd Property in Heathcote, spoke of the benefits of extending her annual camping holiday.

“We camp up at Myrtleford and absolutely love it,” she said. “When we come back, we go back the following weekend, we don’t pack up at once.

“Stretching out the holiday means that life is not as overwhelming when you finally do go back to work. I don’t feel flustered about packing things up all at once. It helps to go back a few more times on weekends, before the summer is finally over.”

Owners of the Heathcote Caravan Park, Jeanette and Brian Parkes, confirmed that they are noticing an increase in short-term return holidaymakers during summer.

“While weekenders are nothing new, we are noticing more people from Melbourne coming back on weekends after their summer holiday,” Jeanette said.

“One couple told us that it’s what keeps them ‘sane’. They love being in nature. Returning to Melbourne during the week doesn’t seem as daunting, because they know they’re coming back on the weekend.”

Jeanette, a teacher by background, and Brian, a butcher, confirmed that the tourist side of their business has doubled since taking it over two years ago.

“There’s definitely a case for camping if you want a short getaway,” Jeanette said. “It’s cheap and easy to pack your car on a Friday night. Somewhere like Heathcote is great. It’s driveable, but far enough away that you feel like it’s a holiday.”