Staycation in the UK
There are adventures to be had in areas all over the UK. A ‘staycation’ can provide an escape without the need for security checks, the stress of weighing cases and an early morning. A UK holiday boom has taken place since the pandemic, with many realising the beautiful places there are to discover. All possible without stepping on a plane. The blended term began to become popular in the early 2000s, but was traced back to July 1944, where it was used “in an attempt to glamorise the somewhat grim predicament of having time off work, without actually going anywhere” (Elliot, The Telegraph). The same term is still used today, but for a different occasion. The term is now associated with a lot more excitement and enthusiasm, where you can plan and go wherever you like.
‘VisitBritain’ conducted a survey, finding that a high number, 61% of adults who took part, would take a ‘staycation’ this year. Their survey focused on farm-based holidays primarily, but also cottages in Scotland, discussions around the increasing demand for holiday lets, and the amount of planning in advance it’ll take to secure a holiday in this country, due to the recent increasing popularity. The Office for National Statistics outline how there were “93.1 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2019”, but since the pandemic, the numbers travelling abroad have decreased significantly, with a much lower “23.8 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2020, the lowest figure since 1985”.
Two years later, numbers have slowly started to rise again, as we have taken control of the pandemic, but a lot of people are still quite cautious about travelling abroad. But because of this, they have had their eyes opened to places in the UK that they may have never visited before. There is often confusion over different countries and their rules and regulations surrounding the covid vaccines too, if you need to show a negative test as proof of being Covid free, how long after your vaccine you can enter the country, and quarantine queriers. It can all be quite the headache.
The rising cost of living has also been a reason for many to seek out holidays in the UK, but some places can even be as expensive as travelling abroad, so planning in advance and researching to find the best deals, can be the key to save money, and to make the most out of your holiday. The natural wonders of the UK can be on many lists to see and are often free to visit. Some sites may be part of the National Trust, where you can become a member to see all areas of interest under the trust’s name. Paying for a membership also helps to protect the beauty of the nature and its history for years to come.
Some natural wonders include Hadrian’s Wall, being 73 miles long, stretching from Wallsend to in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. I don’t think your expected to walk the whole way thankfully! Stonehenge can be a great sight to see, rich in history, with the origins being quite mysterious, and some believing extra-terrestrials built the site. In County Durham, high force and low force waterfalls can be impressive to see. High force is one of England’s most stunning waterfalls, having origins going back 300 million years! Living history can be quite breath-taking. Even low force is 18 foot high off the falls on the River Tees, and will be the first water fall seen on your walk before you reach high force.
The increasing cost of petrol have made many rethink their chosen UK destination, as some simply cannot afford the drive down to Cornwall or up to Scotland, on top of the price of the accommodation, food, and activities when they arrive. Often booking late can help reduce the price of your holiday stay, as a great deal may pop up due to a last-minute cancellation from another guest. This can open the door for you and your family to travel and experience a nice little getaway in a different part of the country. Butler, a writer for The Guardian, expresses her concerns over how some “people are leaving it late and have to see what money they have got available” she said. “Because of the price of petrol, people are looking at how much it will cost and whether they can afford to do things when they arrive” (The Guardian). It’s no good getting somewhere and having nothing to do, so having a few things in mind that are free, and will be available for your dates, is something to keep in mind. Dependent on where you go, if the sea is close, a beach day is free and can be a lovely relaxing afternoon, fingers crossed the sun makes an appearance. Walks will always be available, museums can be interesting, and some experiences can have free child places, which can save you and your family some money whilst away. A board game night or two can always be a winner, unless Monopoly is an automatic cause for arguments with your chosen company.
Places could even be on your doorstep that you may have simply passed by or neglected. If you live in a big city, you may have never experienced all of the typical tourist traps and popular sights. Life can get in the way, and commitments can stop you from appreciating what is around you. People can have a fixed thought of what defines a holiday, and this can start with the idea that your getaway won’t start if you’re not getting in a taxi to the airport, stepping onto a Jet2 plane, with Jess Glynne playing in the background. The mindset that you aren’t travelling properly, or it isn’t a ‘real holiday’ if you’re not on a plane is totally wrong. If you’re going to a new place, or a returning favourite, whilst spending time with your close friends and family, away from work commitments, is a holiday, where memories will be made. Many people in America have no need to leave their country, since the scale of the USA is so vast, and they could visit a new state every time they wish to travel. Granted, they may still need a plane to do this, or simply a long drive depending upon where they are visiting, but I am sure they’ll still view it as a great holiday by being in a new place, or a vacation, as they would say. I’m sure many Americans would dream of travelling to Europe and see the sights of the capital cities with new immersive cultural experiences.
Experiences and emotions can create vivid memories and unforgettable reminders of places. Your senses can really bring the picture of where you were together, like a certain smell of a shop you passed, sounds from a song that you heard whilst in a new place, or a brand-new taste from a dish you were brave enough to try. Smaller details can really paint the picture of the wonderful time you had. These trivial things can keep memories alive and keep you returning to these destinations for years to come, all because of the positive impression you took away.
Trains can take you directly to the heart of a new city. Stepping off the train into a bustling city can be as exciting as going abroad, I’m sure many won’t mind not having to queue in long lines and experience lengthy wait times for boarding. The recent chaos at UK airports with strikes have resulted in a surge of people choosing not to go abroad. Shortages of staff who left their jobs, or the thousands who have been unfortunately laid off from airports when air travel ground to a halt during covid, have resulted in huge staff shortages very recently and heavy disruptions. This has been a major cause for concern for many, and has caused in turn, for numbers to travel within this country instead. The weather isn’t something we can always count on, but enjoyment from a new feeling of exploration can be huge. Hearing accents and voices from all over the country whilst somewhere new can really make it feel even more like a holiday. The mix of people from diverse cultures, backgrounds and values can spark conversations and grow memories, and even long-lasting friendships with people who you may have only met by chance. How lovely!
The recent extreme heat, with 40 degrees Celsius being recorded in parts of the UK like London and other southern areas, and regions experiencing the hottest temperatures in years have kept people, more than usual, enjoying the heat at home. No need to travel far and abroad when there’s temperatures like this in England. Not often we can say that. When it’s this hot, remember your sun cream! Also, the elderly and very young children can be more at risk from potential health problems caused by the sun, so regular checks to ensure their wellbeing may be necessary. Seaside locations can be a great spot to cool off, so take plenty of water, and remember to pack some towels for when you’re braving the sea. This is the perfect time of year if you’re lucky enough to live by the sea. Or if not, it can be worth the drive to enjoy the sand on your toes and an ice cream in hand whilst looking out to see surfers, swimmers and body boarders out in the sea.
London, our capital city, is an immensely popular destination as an international city. It is typically an incredibly crowed, busy place, where a range of diverse cultures and events can be immersed in. Lastminute.com and Wowcher can offer some great deals on weekend trips to our great cities, so it would be good to sign up to their sites, keeping an eye out for places that will certainly inspire. But much like any big capital city, London isn’t without its dangers to be wary of. London is beautiful at night, but just be vigilant to not carry a large amount of cash on you, keeping bags always zipped and on your person, just best to be aware of pick pocketers, so stick to well-lit spaces. Try not to break away from your group of friends in a new city, nothing worse than getting lost on a night out, so keep together. Remembering to book a taxi or an Uber when going to a new place late at night can make things run a lot smoother too, it’ll keep you safe, get you there on time, and prevent blisters from those new shoes you’re going to be wearing. I’m sure you’ll still get your steps in!
If you meet up with someone new and it isn’t going too well, or something seems off, the ‘ask for Angela’ scheme can help you out. “The safety initiative ‘Ask for Angela’ is being rolled out to bars, clubs, and other licensed businesses across London. People who feel unsafe, vulnerable, or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela.’ This code-phrase will indicate to staff that they require help, and a trained member of staff will then look to support. This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police.” (Met Police.) Or the same safe assured help can be acquired by asking for an ‘angel shot with lime,’ without saying ‘lime’ won’t indicate that you need police help, only that you would like help leaving discreetly and safely.
From a tourist point of view, a large vibrant city, even if you have been there before, will always have something new to offer. For example, Edinburgh’s landscape can change monthly, depending upon the weather, or the annual calendar for events and goings on. Their summer months are hectic with the annual Fringe Festival, where almost 50,000 performers from 58 nations are “performing in 3,171 shows in a full event schedule that will take place from August 5 through August 29” (Evening Edinburgh News.) If that isn’t culture and diversity in one place, I don’t know what is! Following that is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tatoo, dramatically set against the castle, with Royals attending, it is hardly a small endeavour. Audiences from across the world come together to celebrate the skills and achievements of the military bands and display teams from across the world. Next follows the Halloween parades, and the extremely popular Christmas markets. The markets draw people in from all over the globe with twinkling fairy lights: rich history, hot chocolates and treats to try, as well as unique gifts to wrap up and present on Christmas day. Events are peppered throughout the year, making Edinburgh a favourite place for many to visit. The same can be said for many other big cities, which each have their own traditions and heritage within their walls.
The UK summer scene is also known for its festivals. From Board Masters down in Cornwall: Creamfields in Daresbury, TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow, Reading & Leeds Fest, and the iconic Glastonbury in Somerset, there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy. Each have their own big headliners and draw in huge crowds from all over the UK, and often the world. The festival atmosphere can be something that many look forward to all year around. It can truly be an experience like no other. Glastonbury is the world’s largest greenfield festival, with a staggering 200,000 in attendance, and that number only seems to be growing bigger each year. It is many people’s favourite, due to it being superbly organised: having huge headlining acts with stella performances and being a place that can hold and retain its own authentic feel. Even the iconic Pyramid Stage became a permanent fixture in the farms landscape in 1981, sheltering the herd of cows in the winter months, growing to symbolise the magic of Glastonbury. In 2019, Sir David Attenborough made a surprise appearance, in which he thanked crowds for helping to reduce the amount of plastic used at the event. Even the fields of mud don’t stop the crowds each year, just remember your wellies!
If you have only seen clips online and haven’t attended yet, it is the clear the atmosphere would be fantastic. The crowds that are often televised show hundreds holding and waving flags. It shows people from all over the country, with many having their county flag with them proudly, as well as a way to find their tent in a sea of campsites. The visual of this can really represent how everyone from all over can come together to enjoy and appreciate music, in a fun electric environment. But just like going out to a club, stay aware and alert so you don’t become a target. Only take belongings that you wouldn’t mind losing or even worse, stolen. Some festivals are even cashless to help avoid physical money being stolen, so check with your event before you go. But if you do carry cash, never leave it loose in your tent, as people can easily enter and take this alongside any valuable items when you’re not there. The site, FestivalSafe, shares a range of the information and guidelines to keep you safe and well, so it will be worth checking it out before you head off to next year’s festival season.
Anywhere you travel in the UK can be a place which can later hold significant memories and happy feelings. Being abroad doesn’t define a holiday. Some may have never had the chance or opportunity to fly, but that doesn’t stop them from exploring what they can, and having an exciting time when schedules allow. It’s all about doing what you enjoy with the people you love that can make a place special.
Written by Holly Richardson