Autie Friendly Holiday Planning: 4. Taking The Long Way Home

Part Four of our useful guide

Stalybridge Station, from end of platform 1
Journey’s end: Stalybridge railway station looking towards Manchester.

On the lengthiest of bus or rail journeys I take, I always think of the first track on side two of Supertramp’s Breakfast in America album.

The appropriately titled Take The Long Way Home, also a staple tune of Roger Hodgson’s solo concerts.

You may be wondering how I mentioned this classic tune in a part work on autism spectrum condition friendly holidays. It is partly my love of all things Supertramp and of public transport. Sometimes I call catching the all stations train from Huddersfield into Stalybridge (over TPE’s faster one) as Operation Helliwell (as in Supertramp’s saxophonist and concert Master of Ceremonies John Anthony Helliwell).

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Oops! We seemed to have strayed from the original premise of our fourth part. By Friday, there’s every chance we may have got used to the holiday routine. We would have known which times are good for breakfast or evening meal. Owing to the change from ‘holiday mode’ to ‘home mode’, the transition might be a little upsetting.

The part I hate most about being on holiday is repacking my suitcase on the last full day. Which is why I get around this activity by putting my dirty clothes in the suitcase on the day they become dirty.

Luggage

If you’re on a coach holiday, there’s every chance you may set off earlier than normal on your last day. This would be timed to synchronise with feeder coaches. There will be reference to the different times on the hotel’s notice board. These will include:

  • The time in which your luggage has to be seen outside the hotel room;
  • Revised breakfast times;
  • Revised departure times.

Your luggage will be collected from outside your room door and stored in the coach. You will see your luggage again once you’ve left the coach station, or the pick up point of your feeder coach. Breakfast times and departure times may be earlier, depending on distance. Sometimes, there may be an overnight stay en route at another hotel. If there is, take out of your suitcase or wardrobe and place the following in your hand luggage:

  • Smart clothes for one night’s evening meal;
  • A change of underwear;
  • A change of t-shirt or jumper for the following day;
  • A change of trousers, jeans or shorts for the following day;
  • Toilet requisites.

If you’re making your own way back home (public transport or by car), you usually need to leave your hotel, guest house, campsite or holiday camp by a certain time (usually 10am). This allows staff to clean your room for another guest.

Leaving your destination in good time

If you’re using public transport, there’s every chance trains, buses and coaches will be busy between 10am to 12 midday. If you’ve booked your ticket in advance and have a reserved seat, there is little to worry about, besides hoping your train or coach arrives on time. At the airport or ferry terminal, allow sufficient time to check in as you did on your outward journey.

Again, with many people leaving their hotels, caravan sites, holiday camps or guest houses at around 10am, there’s every chance that the roads will be busier. I can testify myself having coped with the odd traffic clogged journey on the M62 and the A64. On a Saturday, I recommend leaving at around midday. By then, most of the holiday traffic from your resort would at least 60 or more miles away. More traffic would be heading towards your resort by then. Or you could take an alternative route and stop off at another town or village en route for lunch.

If you’ve booked a ‘bought-on-the-day’ train ticket, you could consider boarding a later train and putting your suitcase in a left-luggage locker (where available of course, and a modest fee). Other than that, reserving your seat up to the day before you travel, on your desired train, could be useful.

Arriving Home

Hopefully, your journey back home should be as smooth as your outward journey last week. There’s every chance that in spite of enjoying your holiday, you will be most relieved to be back safely and as quickly as possible.

At the airport forecourt, bus station, or outside the entrance of your local staffed railway station, there’s every chance you’ll see a few taxis outside. If you’ve flown, I recommend opting for your local taxi or minicab company. You may have agreed a fare for your outward journey and booked a return journey, and it may be cheaper than the taxis on the rank.

If you’re journey home’s a short distance from the railway, bus or coach station (5 miles or less), and there’s a taxi waiting, go for one of the taxis. Alternatively, you could use your mobile phone or a payphone to ring for your favoured local taxi company. The wait may be a bit longer, but there’s greater reassurance because you’re familiar with them (and the drivers may be familiar with your voice over the ‘phone).

Several miles later, you’ve made it. The first thing you want to do is almost the same thing you would do on the first day of your holiday.

Have a mug of tea or coffee. Then relax. Just this once, you could give the cooker or microwave oven a rest for the night and order a takeaway. (Supposing you didn’t have a fish supper or a Chinese takeaway whilst away).

Then prepare for the post-holiday activities of washing dirty clothes, going through the photographs you have taken and posting them on Facebook, Flickr, Ipernity or Twitter (other social networking sites are available).

I always like to have a long rest after my holiday, just to adjust to ‘home mode’ after a week on ‘holiday mode’. I’m still pretty much in ‘holiday mode’ on the day of departure. Sometimes I can be absolutely ratty after travelling, much to the ire of relatives and my dog.

In most cases, it is good to be home, but I would prefer to be on a train sometimes.

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Remembering and Sharing Memories of your Holiday

Sharing Your Photos

You could print them off or share them with relatives on social networking sites like Facebook. Or you could go to a print shop and turn your best images into mugs, mouse mats, jigsaws or greetings cards.

Create a Scrap Book

In your scrap book, why not add pictures from your holiday. Have a theme, possibly around your favoured interest. For example, include in your book transport tickets, cut out pictures from leaflets, or illustrate your book.

Create a Play List

Add to your play list the music which formed part of your holiday. You can either use an online service like Spotify or you could add your favourite songs onto a CD or cassette.

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Journey’s End

This concludes our not-so-little guide to planning an Autie Friendly Holiday. Wherever you’re going this year, I hope the weather’s fine and that none of your trains, coaches, buses, planes or ferries are disrupted. I hope this guide, some 10,000 or so words in total proves to be useful. In advance, I do apologise if I’ve made some glaring omissions.

As ever, if you’ve any suggestions further to the ones I’ve made, feel free to comment.

Credits

  • Graphics: Stuart Vallantine;
  • Music: Half Man Half Biscuit, ABBA, Supertramp and North Sea Gas;
  • Beverages: Taylor’s of Harrogate;
  • Pies: Hollands;
  • Produced, Written and Directed by Stuart Vallantine, 17 – 21 July 2013. Any opinions of certain Yorkshire seaside resorts, hotels and experiences are purely my own.

S.V., 21 July 2013.

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