In recent weeks, our social media feeds have started to feature friends’ foreign getaways once again. But whether you’ve decided to avoid the risks and spend your annual leave at home this summer, or chance a holiday within these shores, careful planning can still ensure your staycation is more restful than any overseas trip. It’ll feel longer as well, as you won’t be wasting hours getting to the airport or queuing in passport control.
In fact, there’s lots to recommend the staycation. Even without Covid concerns, travelling can take days to recover from, points out psychologist and travel blogger Honey Langcaster-James. ‘As much as it’s fun to travel to far-off lands, flying long haul or taking a long journey at the start and end of your holiday can be a real drag and the jet-lag can be horrendous,’ she says. Plus, as lots of desirable locations have now been added to the quarantine list, you’re likely to end up stuck at home on the other side. ‘If you want to keep things as stress-free as possible, a staycation may be just what the doctor ordered.’
Even back in 2018, when our travel options weren’t restricted by the global pandemic, 93% of British adults were enjoying at least one staycation a year, according to research conducted by Wonga. The report also found the average cost of a staycation was £267.93 per head, so cheaper than a foreign trip, too. Whatever your budget, there are many ways to spend it.
Staycation from home
Since lockdown, home has become a hybrid space for many of us. In some cases, it’s functioned both as an office and a home school by necessity. So, if you can’t get away this year, think about the steps you can take to transform it into a space you can relax in again.
If the housework has built up, set aside the weekend before your annual leave to clear those chores and to ensure that elements of your everyday regime don’t infringe on your staycation. Set your out-of-office, switch off work emails and make it clear to friends and family that you’re taking time out.
Make being at home feel like a holiday by eating out at the local restaurants you’ve always wanted to try. Or, pay for a recipe delivery service for the week and try out some new cuisines. Also indulge in some pamper time by treating yourself to an at-home ‘spa’ evening – run a bath, put on a face mask and give yourself that well-deserved mani-pedi.
As well as ‘me time’, plan some ‘our time’ too. Instead of running around after the kids, running errands for your parents and texting friends, schedule a fun socially distanced activity. Invite them for a country walk culminating in a pub lunch; a barbecue in the garden that you otherwise have little time to sit in; or a game of rounders in the park.
This is also an opportunity to go on bucket-list day trips to the coast, to National Trust properties and museums and galleries. Look at the UK through the eyes of a tourist. You’ll be thrilled by how much it has to offer. Check out visitbritain.com for inspiration.
Find a home-from-home
If you need to keep costs down, but are desperate for a change of scenery, you could move into someone else’s home for free. Housesit for a friend who’s off travelling or check into a stranger’s home through a house-sitting network. TrustedHousesitters.com matches people who want their homes looked after when they’re away with those looking to stay in their area. It has dozens of UK homes looking for sitters. You may have to walk the dogs and mow the lawn, but you get to holiday in a different part of the country for free. If you swap your home with someone looking to holiday in your area, you’ll get your place looked after too. Lovehomeswap.com has people looking for home exchanges across Britain.
Have fun under canvas
If you haven’t camped before, it’s never too late to try. Plus, Simon McGrath, the Camping and Caravanning Club’s senior communications manager and author of Camping With Kids believes it could give you a much-needed opportunity to switch off from home life. ‘Camping gives busy people the chance to disconnect from technology, reconnect with nature and spend quality time in the great outdoors together,’ he explains.
For a comfy night’s sleep, invest in a roomy, easy-to-erect tent, warm sleeping bags and self-inflating mats to insulate you from the cold floor. If you’re a first-time camper, McGrath advises practising pitching your tent and spending your first night sleeping in it in your garden – kids will love the novelty of an outdoor sleepover! When it comes to picking a campsite, look for one in a great area, but make sure it covers the practicalities, too, and check details like size and location of pitch before booking. McGrath advises: ‘Pick a site with good facilities, which means the trip to the loo in the middle of the night need not be such a scary prospect. If you have children, seek out a family-friendly campsite.’ Search at campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk or coolcamping.com; nothing beats tips from friends either.