There are no two ways about it, 2020 has been an absolute disaster. In fact, you may have heard a whole cluster of words describing it more emotionally, especially by those who have had to cancel a holiday because of the pandemic.
Fear not though, because (in the UK at least) we’ve been getting staycations right for years, even if you’ve missed it while you’ve been jetting abroad to take advantage of the sun. Here are a few pointers for those who won’t be getting on an airplane to foreign climes in 2021.
1. Your suitcase just got way bigger
Rather than limiting yourself to what you can fit into a tight luggage limit, if you’re staying in the UK you are pretty much limited to what you can fit in your car. Even once you’ve piled the family in there, you’ll have room for much more than you usually take on the plane.
You will need it though, as the weather can be unpredictable and taking two different coats and a pair of shorts is a habit you soon get into.
2. You won’t be getting up at silly o’clock for your flight
Most holiday changeovers in the UK happen at a very civilized 3 pm or 4 pm, which means you can get up when you normally would pile all your kit in the car at your own pace (more on that next) leave about 10 am or 11ish, stop for lunch on the way, and arrive in a much better mood than you would have done after a flight and a two-hour taxi ride from the airport.
3. Your home comforts aren’t on another continent
A lot of holiday lets in the UK have kitchen facilities (and usually pretty good ones as well) making it, to use the cliché, a home away from home. This means you can box up your kitchen staples and take them with you, so you can start your day with your favorite breakfast cereal and brand of coffee.
Also, it doesn’t mean you have to eat out every night (though if you’re on holiday you probably will) and yes, you can get your supermarket to deliver your shopping to your holiday let as well.
4. It’s easier to ‘be prepared’
The UK is a more familiar environment for our travels, and it’s easier to be prepared. Nobody carries around a wad of cash for every eventuality and paying can be problematic if you’re somewhere there’s no signal or your phones out of charge. A handy tip here is to stock up on gift vouchers beforehand for the places you’re likely to go.
As a second benefit, you can buy one each month or week in the run-up to your holiday as a holiday savings plan. You can get gift vouchers for pretty much anything you can think of and you can find out more at GiftsVouchers.co.uk
5. You can take the dog with you
There’s no more leaving the hound with a family member, pet sitter, or paying for a house sitter. Many holiday lets will let you take your dog, and the chances are they’ll love going on holiday with you. Owners normally charge a small supplement for your four-legged friends and sometimes have rules about them spending time on the sofa or sleeping upstairs.
6. Discover historical places in your own country
It’s easy to get the impression that all there is to do in the UK is tour round National Trust properties and eat cream teas. Yes, a lot of that does go on, but it’s not all about the NT or heritage sites. There are many privately owned landmarks (more on that next) that would love you to visit and fund their passion (and it often seems they try harder, too).
7. Plan your adventures with a pile of leaflets
Almost compulsory in a holiday let will be the pile of leaflets on either the coffee table or dresser. These will be brochures of the local places to visit, menus for takeaways, and nearby pubs. These are left by those that have gone before you and can unearth some gems you might have not otherwise discovered.
A ritual among many regular holidays let families is to spend part of the first evening, sat around the dining table, each holding a plie of their preferred brochures like a poker hand. The next hour is spent negotiating where you’re going to go, and on what day – all the while keeping an eye on the weather forecast of course.
8. Find the most ‘British’ of holiday attractions
It’s a good wager to bet that only in the UK are you likely to see the words ‘barometer museum’ and ‘day out’ in the same sentence. And, you are likely to be impressed with the effort and passion the owners have put into it. The same goes for places like the Big Sheep, which probably wouldn’t work anywhere else, but if you have small children you’ll find yourself going back more than once.
9. Sample ‘proper’ local food you thought you knew all about
If you’ve not traveled extensively in the UK, your experience of a few local delicacies may be the very commercialized version you find in a supermarket. So, if your main experience of a Cornish pasty has had the word Ginsters on the side of it, you’ll be pleased to know that trying the real thing may well involve using both hands, not having had anything to eat for many hours earlier.
By the way, if you do happen to have your staycation in that part of the world, make sure you assemble your cream tea in the correct manner …
10. A wealth of places to stop
If you’re a parent of young children, you are always on ‘toilet watch.’ Knowing where the nearest ‘comfort stop’ is can be an essential part of planning any day out. During your staycation, you’ll know the territory. You’ll know every so often there will be McDonald’s or Costa where you can refuel and silence any plaintive wails from the back seats, a frequent cause of holiday stress.
Overall, you won’t be experiencing a different culture and country (though, to be honest, who really does that when they’re on holiday anyway).
Nor will you, unless you’re very lucky, be bathing in blistering sunshine. But, if you normally go abroad and through choice or necessity take your next holiday in the UK, you won’t find it a bad experience. One at least you’ll probably want to repeat.