An epitaph for the mini-break

Features Editor Niamh Browne proffers a eulogy to the mini-break, with characteristically acerbic wit and comedic whimsy

I stand here at the altar of hypocrisy and loudly proclaim: “Death to the Ryanair weekend mini-break. She fucking sucks!” This is the pinnacle of white middle-class problems. I am certainly guilty of indulging in the cheeky weekend away myself. I once went to Dusseldorf for 16 hours because the flights were a tenner return. I visited Liverpool for a weekend on a €25 return ticket. I am the problem. And, before I go in any deeper, I know that 70 per cent of fossil fuel emissions come from 100 major corporations. Personal choice isn’t the only thing that matters in the face of climate action. In fact, it probably matters very very little. However, the average carbon footprint of an Irish person is 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the EU average is 8.8 and an Indian person, a third of that. It’s clear we need to change something. We simply cannot maintain our lifestyle as is, and an enormous part of that is how we spend our leisure time. 

An island with shite weather: it’s easy to see why we might be culpable for taking more flights than the average European who is attached to a continent with lots of lovely trains. Yes, part of it is not our fault. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do something about it. The Guardian wrote an article to this effect, “Why I Only Take One Holiday Flight a Year”. 

It raised the valid point that we take too many flights. The comments were angry, very very angry. With people talking about how a carbon tax on flights, (meaning you will be taxed on the carbon of your flights), will not stop flights but merely make poor people unable to travel. This is also a valid point, there is no point stopping working-class people from holidaying abroad if middle-class people, who already are the biggest carbon criminals, can still go. 

There is now a new dimension to all of this; disease control. I never thought something as all-encompassing as Coronavirus would swoop in and change the world. Not with such immediate effect at least.  With Covid-19, it’s not responsible to travel currently. More particularly short term travelling is immoral if it is not essential. 

Which brings us to what the future of travel may look like. I think the past is as good an indicator as to what sustainable travel might look like, and I think it’s slow and expensive. Sigh. I do feel an odd sort of lament for the fact that my early 20s will be spent trying to negate the negative effects of climate change. I’ve reduced my meat and dairy consumption and I try to shop sustainably, but now a lifestyle that was sold to us as an integral part of your development – travelling, has to be altered. 

Now that’s probably the most entitled thing I have ever said because it’s not a human fucking right to travel, and nor is it a fundamental part of your development. In fact, most people like to travel because of the craic. A lot of these travelling experiences end up being how many cities you’ve seshed in.  We will now need to spend more time and more money for the “travel experience” and maybe that will make it more life-altering and profound, the fact that you really savour new places when you can go and see them. Then again, maybe you don’t need to travel for these profound experiences. Jane Austen never left her village for Christs’ sake, and she’s considered to have some of the greatest insight into the human condition of all time. For now, however, let me have a mope that I can’t see major European cities for the price of a substantial meal. R.I.P. Mini breaks- you were class. Staycations are here to stay (lol).