I've been asked how I made up my starter, and the truth is I just read about 10 different recipes and had a go at a sort of meshing of the lot of them. What I've found is that it's not an exact science. If you get it wrong, just add either flour or water and see what happens! It's an experiment, with bread at the end!
Day 1) 75g water 75g strong white flour into a kilner jar (mine is pretty big.. 1 litre or 2 litres.. bigger the better). Mix very well, like with a fork or a whisk. No clumps of flour allowed!
Stick a piece of masking tape or draw a line where your mix comes up to.. this is so you can monitor progress and give you hope!
Day 2) stir it
Day 3 or 4 (when you remember) go ahead and add another 75g water 75g strong white flour. Mix mix! move up the masking tape.
Day 5,6,7) Stir everyday, and watch for bubbles. You might miss the actual rising because it could happen overnight, but you'll be able to see some residue of the mix on the sides, higher than your masking tape. That means it's working! I was adding in more flour and water every other day, and all of a sudden I got home and my starter had grown to bigger than the jar, and seeped out the sides and run all down my table. I was ELATED! hehe
I found a good trick after you've seen it's started to rise is to add in a bit of only flour or only water, whatever you need to get it to the consistency of muffin batter (quite stodgy).. because it can hold it's bubbles better that way, and I think the yeast that's growing in there likes to breath (but that might just be me).
As for holidays - I keep mine in the fridge, I think hooch (an alcohol liquid layer on the top) is fine, you can either mix it back in, pour it away or drink it (I haven't tried the latter). Also, dormancy is fine, no bubbles, no problem, just feed it a little flour and water, I go for 50g of each every 3 or 4 days after it's first week establishing. The only thing to be worried about is mould growing on the top. Then you have to start again, but as long as there is no yoghurt in your fridge during your holiday and the starter's lid is on tight, I'm sure you'd be fine for at least a week.