A typical family holiday can hardly be described as "getting away from it all". That's why all my best adventures have been with friends.
Is there a suitable length of time cohabiting after which it's acceptable to holiday with friends rather than spouse? Don't get me wrong, I chose my life-partner well and I couldn't want for better. But when it comes to a holiday, it's another matter.
In Greece this summer, our daily schedule was dominated by food. After a morning sunbathing by the pool, with my husband cursing the heat and glued to his Kindle in the shade, we would set off for the first of the two huge, compulsory daily meals that tend to define our holidays.
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It wouldn't matter if we'd been boating or playing backgammon. Come 1pm he needed to be fed and nothing could divert him. By nightfall, despite whatever three-course feast of taramasalata, calamari, tzatziki, bread, Greek salad and wine we'd had at lunchtime, he was ready to go again.
Our teenagers struggled from bed at midday (just as my husband's hunger pangs were kicking in), and slumped over a bowl of cereal until we hustled them out for lunch, to a chorus of complaint that they'd just had breakfast.
As a result, I spent an inordinate amount of my "holiday" managing the household's conflicting desires. So imagine the beacon of hope presented by my imminent return to my favourite UK retreat, Yeotown in Devon, with a bunch of girlfriends all desperate to abandon their responsibilities.
For five days we barely drew breath as we marched up and down the precipitous coastal paths of North Devon sorting out world peace, Brexit, matters menopausal, the pros and cons of various age differentials in our partners, and bemoaning the minimalist pescatarian and calorie-restricted miracle menu on which we were surviving.
I don't know why I'm surprised that those blissful, physically challenging days of companionship are a new entry to my top five best travel experiences, as the unifying ingredient of all my favourite adventures has been the presence of a girlfriend.
I fondly remember December vacations in Antigua in the 90s with best friend Natalie, staying in her tiny cottage above English Harbour, and shucking oysters on a beautiful sailboat called Mariella on Christmas Day. Trekking the Inca Trail for the first time was made palatable by Penny Smith, whose constant babbling proved the best possible antidote to altitude sickness. Gina Bellman and I laughed our way through a week on a Bahamian island, hanging out and playing pool with our youthful diving instructors.
When you travel with a friend you are liberated from your cares, whereas holidaying with the family all too often means dragging your responsibilities along with you.
Stepping beyond the confines of coupledom means you display more openness to those you encounter along the way — and without a spouse in tow, you can cram as much into your days as possible, whether it is visiting galleries, museums and architecture on a city break, or engaging in energetic outdoor pursuits in the countryside.
With a friend, all the above come with the territory — and, better still, there is time to read, you don't have to factor in time for sex, and your room-mate probably doesn't snore. Seriously, when you think about it, what's not to like?