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World Smile Day

Author: Lauren Curd

The smiley face has been a long established motif, prevalent in modern society to denote happiness. The first Friday in the month of October every year is World Smile Day; 24 hours devoted to bringing joy to others by giving them a smile – a cheesy grin can make a lot of difference to someone’s day. The idea of World Smile Day was coined by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Massachusetts, who is recognised as being the earliest known designer of the smiley face. We’ve asked our expert travel team to share their favourite holiday memories that have left a permanent smile on their faces...


“It might seem cheesy but the ‘holiday’ that has made me smile the most was my wedding in Las Vegas. I always fancied a beach wedding but didn’t want to wear a white dress with all the trimmings in the sand; and another ambition of mine has always been to visit Vegas, so it just made sense to combine the two. One particular highlight was being photographed under the iconic Vegas sign in my dress.” A wedding abroad can be quite daunting but, when done right, it can also be a magical moment in your life. You have to be aware of other country’s customs and laws when marrying overseas, and at the end of your wonderful trip, don’t forget that you have to register it back in the UK for it to be recognised in British Courts. If a Vegas wedding doesn’t take your fancy, try New York, Hawaii, Italy, Greece, Cyprus or the African island nation of Mauritius. 


“Arriving into Monte Carlo by helicopter was an unforgettable adventure. Although I admittedly felt a tad sick, flying over the south of France and the city was truly awe-inspiring. I was wearing my big sunglasses when I departed the helicopter and everybody had gathered round to see which celebrity had just emerged - I hope they weren’t too disappointed.” Much like ascending a tall building, helicopter tours can give you breathtaking views but, unlike the stationary observation decks, you are able to move about and see something from different bird’s-eye angles. City tours, such as New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Rio de Janiero, are very popular as a helicopter can take you above the skyline and show you the majesty of many major landmarks. Tours of nature to enjoy are the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, the Serengeti on a sky safari (mostly done by hot air balloon) and Iguazu Falls on the Argentina/Brazil border.


“The holiday I have enjoyed the most was skiing in Bulgaria. It was great to be surrounded by my family in the snow covered peaks of Bansko, in the southwest of the country. There was fresh air, a chance for exercise and a competitive edge; as an activity holiday, it left me smiling from ear to ear each night.” Arguably the most popular winter sport, skiing had humble beginnings as a form of transport for tribes living in the snow. The length of the skis enabled body weight to be evenly distributed, allowing sliding movements for faster ferrying. Eventually it became a downhill sport, exhilarating on any gradient - from the novice slopes to the steep mountain trails. Some prime spots in the world for skiing are Aspen, Colorado; Whistler and Lake Louise in Canada; the Alps in France/Switzerland; and Iso-Syote in Finnish Lapland.


“I’ll never forget the day spent on safari in the Kalahari Desert looking for Tau Pan Camp’s resident pride of lions. We knew they weren't far away as we’d seen their paw prints in camp early that morning and we eventually found them basking in the scorching sun at the watering hole near camp. Two lions, two lionesses and at least half a dozen cubs snoozed and played together for a couple of hours as we watched on in awe, just a couple of meters away. It was such a privilege to experience and certainly a highlight of my trip to Botswana.” Safaris hold particular sway with people; a chance to see well-known animals, most of which you read about in books when you’re a child, in their natural habitats. Africa, and its distinctive collection of wildlife, is the most favoured safari choice, but expeditions around the world will always draw in crowds as each country hosts endemic creatures that can only be found inside their borders.


“My favourite moment of my holiday to Thailand was being a zookeeper for the day in one of the elephant farms. It was an amazing experience in which I had the opportunity to get to know these beautiful creatures. I washed them, fed them, washed them again and even got to ride one around for a bit – truly magical.” Elephants are one of those animals everyone wants to meet at least once in their lifetime. Unlike many of the other animals of Africa, elephants can be found in other countries, giving more options in which to encounter them. India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and most of Africa have amazing farms and zoos where you can ride and get to know these gentle beasts.


“Nothing will beat the views from the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa. It was swelteringly hot but luckily there was an elevator to take us up to the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building, and it only takes a minute! It felt like I was going to space.” Climbing tall buildings (and reaching the top) gives you unparalleled views of the surrounding areas, offering a new and beautiful perspective on some much loved locations. For buildings, try New York’s Empire State Building, London’s Shard, or Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Certain structures also give you this option, and the views from The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Eiffel Tower and the Singapore Flyer are simply mesmerising.


“Swimming with dolphins left me with a smile as a wide as a Cheshire cat long after I’d finished. What made the experience even better was that they were wild! The coastal town of Monkey Mia in Australia encourage wild dolphins to swim close to the shore and you’re asked to wade waist deep to meet them. Fish in hand, I ventured in bravely and it was such a wonderful encounter.” Animals are a common theme on holidays, allowing us to see creatures we don’t necessarily come across back home. Marine life is particularly difficult to encounter, making the creatures of the sea rather mystical and enticing. The best places to witness water dwellers are…anywhere with a coast! In the Caribbean especially, there are countless excursions into the sea to meet sharks, turtles, dolphins and…pigs. Yes, you heard right – in The Bahamas, there is an island completely devoted to swimming pigs, and you have the chance to swim with them.


“Something that made me smile was when I was on-board the S.S. Constitution, cruising around the Hawaiian Islands. It was one of those balmy nights and I was enjoying the evening out on deck, when the band played a slowed down version of Bob Marley’s ‘Stir It Up’. It’s a great song, they performed a beautiful version and it was lovely evening overall, leaving me with fond memories.” Cruising is a popular journey for a great many people who prefer to take to the open seas and explore many places in one holiday. Most cruises will have many stop off points, allowing the passengers to engage in many different aspects on their adventures. Aside from the Hawaiian Islands, other world-renowned cruises are around Halong Bay in Vietnam; Vancouver and south of Alaska; any part of the beautiful Australian coast (but mostly the Great Barrier Reef); and the Caribbean, where the multitude of countries ensure a lot of stopovers.


**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**


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