Time for each other

A story told by Maliga Naidoo Durban, South Africa

Maliga Naidoo lives and works in Durban, a South African metropolis and seaside resort on the Indian Ocean. She runs LARASA, The Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa, which hosted the World Leisure Conference in 2016.

“The world would be a better place if more people had the chance to travel,” says Maliga Naidoo.  "Going on holiday makes people more relaxed. This helps break down the walls between them, and creates an ambiance more amenable to mutual contact. As such, holidays lead to more social interaction and better understanding between groups of people.”

“I still remember my very first trip. I was four years old. My father believed it was important for us to travel and explore different parts of the world. As soon as the opportunity arose, even if it was just a long weekend, we would head out of Durban. These trips were always a learning experience for us. I learned important skills, such as preparing for a journey or lighting a camp fire. My father impressed upon us that the point of travelling is to learn, to find out about other cultures, and to understand how other people think and respond. Travel encourages you to get to know other people and that increases your tolerance of difference.

“I learned this from my father: you travel to learn, to understand other people.”

“We have carried on what my father taught us in our own family. My own children are 27 and 22. They live far away, in Cape Town and New York. For ten months a year we don’t see them, but we go on holiday together every year. It’s a tradition and an important event in our family. Once a year we strengthen our family bonds. The time we spend together keeps us connected. We talk about things that we wouldn’t otherwise have the time for during the year. Yes, we Skype, and speak regularly on the phone, but when we are on holiday the time we spend with each other is intense. We go on the journey together, do things together, eat together and talk in depth. All the important subjects in our family rise to the surface while we are away on holiday."

“Every year my husband and I go on holiday with our adult children. We talk in depth about our lives and re-establish that strong connection with each other.”

“We bring new memories home after every holiday, along with the feeling of being more fulfilled thanks to all the interactions we have had with other people. It is always a pleasure to start up conversations with people when I’m travelling. Every shop you go into is a new opportunity for an encounter. When you dig deeper and have a chat with the seller, you discover the person behind the role. When you are on holiday it is always nice to share your experience, bits and pieces of life, with the locals. I’m also delighted when I experience different tastes and smells. Sometimes I’ll bring a few spices home, and when I see that jar in my kitchen the memories of my holiday resurface. Yes, a traveller always returns home a richer person.”

“A traveller returns home a richer person, with new friends, fresh ideas and memories that colour our lives.”

“It is extremely important, I think, for everyone to be able to go on holiday. Holidays shouldn’t be just for those who are well off enough to fly around in expensive jets. It should be just as easy for ordinary people to leave their everyday worlds behind them and explore a new environment, because travel helps us understand each other better and strengthens our bonds with people in other places far from home.”

“The government, tourism industry and transport industry have an important role to play in making travel available to ordinary people.”

“The government has a very important role to play in making holidays affordable for everyone. They hold the keys to creating attractive areas where people can go on holiday. The transport sector has a key role to play too. In my own country, for example, I’ve noticed that residents travel more since internal flights became affordable. When mobility becomes affordable, places become more accessible and people seize the opportunity to explore. 
All these initiatives are necessary because travel is learning, discovering new things, trying new activities and discovering that you can do more than you thought, trying foods you never knew existed, listening to people’s stories… Going on holiday is a time to have fun, relax, enjoy life and be happy. It does us all the power of good and makes the world a better place.”


Authored by Griet Bouwen Bilzen