Op vakantie is Dutch for on holiday. According to the data from CBS (Dutch Statistics Bureau) 4 out of 5 Dutchies goes on holiday. Most of them enjoy two vacations longer dan 1 week every year whether it is a Spring break, easter holiday, summer holiday, autumn break, Christmas holiday or winter sport vacation. How do they do it I imagine you wondering? People in the Netherlands have 5 weeks vacation on yearly basis. School holiday in the summer lasts 6 weeks, 2 weeks during Christmas and New Year and one week each for Spring and autumn break and long week end during Easter and Whit Monday. Plus there is a holiday allowance from work which is 8% of year salary.
In January most Dutchies, especially those with children at elementary school, plan their summer holiday. Some companies ask their personnel to pass on the dates for scheduling the summer sit – in at the office. In second week of January there is an immense travel exhibition in Utrecht called Vakantiebeurs. It is handy to those who want to get away but don’t know where to and how.
Just to give you an impression how most Dutchies take their summer holiday seriously. Remember my chain post about holidaying in Indonesia in the summer of 2011? Well, I went there with three families. Mine, my brother in law’s and my husband’s friend’s. The group consisted of 6 adults and 4 children from 9 – 13 years old. We started planning it in September 2009. April 2010 the exact destinations were chosen. September 2010 budgeting was finished. Some hotels were booked in November 2010. January 2011 flight tickets were booked and confirmed Amsterdam – Jakarta – Amsterdam. Domestic flight tickets, train tickets and hired vans were reserved in April 2011. In May 2011 we controlled our timetable and call sheets once again. Then we defined the go’s and no go’s (visiting Bromo volcano among others due to code orange given at that time) and excluding the risks. The preparations were fun and went well which resulted in an amazing holiday together.
3,4 million of Dutchies prefer to spend their holiday in their own country. These following Dutch provinces are their favorites: Friesland, Zeeland, Gelderland and Limburg. When they go abroad they gladly visit: Germany, France, Spain, Turkey and Greece. Or some explore countries far away like: Indonesia, Thailand, Suriname and India. Did you know that holiday bookings in The Netherlands partly depend on the weather and sport events? When the summer is bad, there is a significant rise in holiday bookings to sunny destinations. Or after sport events like the Summer Olympics, football World Champion, Euro Championship, people tend to book last-minute arrangements. It depends on how Dutch teams perform though. When they are out early (like Dutch football equip in Euro Championship 2012), travelbureaus can expect more bookings. What do Dutchies do on a summer holiday? A majority love to go camping. Some take their own caravan, others sleep in their own tent or one can hire a standing caravan on a camping ground (see pics above and beneath). Some love the convenience of all-inclusive resorts mostly situated in Turkey, Portugal and Greece. The others enjoy a combination of city trip and nature.
First choice is by car for both local and European destinations. The extensive road network in The Netherlands and West Europe allows this. It is an interesting way of travelling. One can see much and travel in their on pace. Road trip is cheap when you travel with a group. Second choice is to fly. The low-cost carriers make it affordable to fly to exotic places away from this tiny and most of the time cold little country. I went on a road trip three times, twice to Costa Brava and once to Basque region in North-West Spain. All trips went through France. It was lovely to discover the French joie de vivre along the way. During the trip we stayed in an Auberge in an idyllic little village, doing nothing than nom noming and wine tasting in the middle of the day. Arrived in Spain we were free to explore the region whenever we wanted. Oh, one advantage of road trip I really really love: taking as many souvenirs and local condiments as I can (in my case as a foodie) back home. There is no need to pay excess baggage costs.
There is one thing European road tripper must reckon with it is the infamous Black Saturday or Samedi Noir. On Black Saturday many people in several countries go on the road at the same time causing severe traffic jams in the main road network. For Indonesian readers, it is comparable with mudik time before Eid Mubarak.
Beneath you see France map taken by Bison Futé during a Black Saturday last year. The route in red means cars can barely move and the traffic length is more than 600 km! It is not a coincidence why this route was jammed. This is the route de soleil, an autoroute stretching from Paris to Marseille to sunny destinations in the south. From Marseille holiday goers to Spain take the turn to Perpignan and 30 minutes (without traffic jam) later they enter the Spanish border. Turning right is the way through Nice which brings you to Cote d’Azur (Cannes, Monaco) Italian Riviera(San Remo, Genua ). This is just an impression on Black Saturday in France, as it also happens in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Swiss.
These are the dates of expected Black Saturday this summer (2013):
- France: 13, 20 and 27 July, 3, 4, 10, 11 and 17 August
- Swiss: every Saturday in July, 30 and 10 August
- Germany: 20 and 27 July, 3 and 17 August
- Austria: 20 and 27 July, 3, 10 and 17 August
- Spain: 6 and 27 July, 3 August
- Italy: every Saturday in July and August
Should you ever plan to make a road trip through France during the summer, take a look at Bison Futé. It provides real time traffic situations.
Hard habit to break
One thing I still find funny about Dutchies on holiday is that they take their drop (licorice), hagelslag (choco sprinkler) and pindakaas (peanutbutter). Those are typical Dutch products. I asked my Dutch friends and family why. Some answered they are afraid not to be able to find them abroad which I understand. Another habit Dutchies do during their vacation is eating their dinner early. Here dinner is served at 5 pm! In South European countries this might be a problem as dinner starts at 8.30 pm there. So when you see families eating in a restaurant at 5 pm, there is a big chance they are Dutch :-).
Some of people I know have had a special holiday like a colleague who went to Scotland and Ireland on his motorbike last year. He took his own tent and explore those countries slowly. Another colleague visited Iceland with her van. She continued the journey by a ferry. A professor of mine went on a motorbike to Nordic countries in 2009. He asked locals through Twitter (at that time it was a novelty) which places he should visit. Last but not least, an acquaintance of mine sails with her boat through the canals in The Netherlands to North Sea. She does this every year with her husband. Seeing her pics, I believe it is a relaxing and soothing boat trip. Perhaps I should try this sometime.
Now I am counting down to my well deserved summer holiday which is only 10 days from now. The destination is sunny with good food and vibrant places. I plan to reward the first three commenters on this post with a post card from my holiday spot. So, have your say!
Pics are taken from various travel sites.