At last, some kind of normality is resuming. We can sit inside pubs and restaurants again (just in time for beer garden weather!). We can hug, and we can enjoy overnight visits to friends and family.
There are still a few restrictions in place, of course, and travel bans are one of the biggest. Red and amber zones leave Brits with few options and only those who can afford to self-isolate for a significant period can realistically take the risk.
Unfortunately then, most of us are not going on a summer holiday this year. At least, not abroad. While this may be good news for the environment, for many people, it’s still a big sacrifice, and this disappointment is completely understandable.
Don’t get us wrong, travel bans to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are, absolutely, the right call. And we’ll take being able to spend time with loved ones any day over meeting strangers in far off lands.
But holidays are when we recharge and reset. For those who don’t enjoy their day-to-day reality, holidays are the pinnacle of the year. And, after more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions, we all need that.
Travel also broadens the mind and cleanses the soul. Many of us are braver, more creative, happier people on holiday. The good news is, you can get your ‘holiday persona’ without leaving the country. It’s all about breaking the status quo and seeing yourself and your surroundings with new eyes.
Fortunately, while we may not be able to head abroad, the UK is rich in stunning scenery, history, culture, glorious beaches, activities, and cosmopolitan cuisine. Whatever gets your blood pumping, from hiking to hot tubs, you can find it here.
Staycation in style
A ‘staycation’ used to mean staying within driving distance of your actual home and participating in activities you would usually only enjoy on holiday. The term has been broadened to encompass domestic rather than foreign travel, and now often involves booking a cottage in a UK beauty spot.
Whichever you choose, the principle is the same. It’s a chance to check out of your day-to-day life, relax and unwind.
With that in mind, please allow us to take you through our top tips for making the most of your staycation.
1. Pack for every weather
If you were wondering what the link to a fabulous ethical fashion brand promoting fair trade handbags from around the globe has to staycations, well, here it is.
The UK is capable of glorious sunshine, torrential rain and some hail thrown in for good measure - all in a single afternoon. Whether it’s spring or summer, you can only rely on the weather to be unpredictable. So, pack accordingly:
- A lightweight waterproof coat is a lifesaver
- Shoes that you can actually walk in have taken on a whole new meaning after three lockdowns of, mainly, slippers - surely it’s not just us struggling?
- Take a versatile tote bag that doubles as a beach bag
- Pack lots of light layers
2. Stock up on masks and hand sanitiser before you go
We may be coming out of lockdown, but we’re not out of the pandemic yet. Always make sure you have a clean mask and hand sanitiser with you. Masks are not a fashion accessory, but having a couple that coordinate with various outfits helps them feel more ‘normal’ and less of a chore. Many shops and eateries provide hand sanitiser, but having your own may make you feel more prepared. If you have had your vaccinations, remember that others haven’t and be respectful.
3. Check the local rules and regulations
In a similar vein, make sure you know the rules for the area of the UK that you are visiting. For example, Wales has different restrictions to Chester, which is only a couple of miles down the road. Parts of Ireland and Scotland may also be behind or ahead of the English lockdown easing schedule. Make sure you book in restaurants and bars in plenty of time and bring a warm coat or blanket if you will be exposed to the elements. Even a balmy spring night can turn chilly once the sun goes down.
4. Visit local attractions
Once you know where you are allowed to go, you can start looking at local attractions and places of interest. Most of us don’t often find the time for sightseeing until we are on holiday, when we’re happy to explore our surroundings.
Many UK zoos, theme parks, and galleries have been closed for almost a year and have missed out on tourism. For example, Plymouth is home to the UK’s largest aquarium and is run by the Ocean Conservation Trust. The UK also has some of the best zoos in the world, including Whipsnade and Chester, and a plethora of safari experiences located everywhere from Kent to Stirling.
Have a look at town and city websites for museums, landmarks, and other attractions. Sites such as Trip Advisor are a regular source of information when playing a trip abroad, but have you ever looked for reviews closer to home? You might be pleasantly surprised at what you can find on your doorstep.
5. Be a tourist - even if you’re not
Act like a tourist, even if you can walk home.
Tourists can often be spotted by the number of photographs they take, and their fascination with their surroundings.
There is no reason you can’t find the same joy in places you may have seen before, but probably haven’t really looked at.
Our designers take inspiration from everything from nature and architecture to street fashions and food. Pretending to be a tourist is a great way to appreciate the beauty and history that may be all around you.
- Read plaques on buildings and statues
- Take endless snaps of flowers and trees in full bloom
- Most importantly, document your time spent with loved ones you may not have seen much of since this all started
6. Disconnect to connect
Relish being away from your desk and your phone. Enjoy connecting with your fellow staycationers in real life, rather than online. Sure, part of the fun of holidays is the exotic locations, but, really, it’s all about the people. Switch your phone off and engage.
7. Climb every mountain (not literally)
You are fully entitled to hunker down in a hot tub and not move until the end of your holiday. However, if you usually enjoy a more active trip, find out what your part of the UK has to offer. Climbing Ben Nevis isn’t quite the same as trekking in Nepal, but it’s still an achievement. You can also abseil, bungee jump, go white water rafting, or surfing in the UK, daredevils will be in their element.
Ben Nevis, Scotland
8. Practice gratitude and mindfulness
Some people get anxious without a fully planned itinerary, while others prefer to go with the flow. The latter group may be better equipped to deal with disappointments, but we have all had to learn to adapt to new circumstances. Practicing mindfulness can have myriad benefits. Try not to bemoan the cancelling of your holiday and instead appreciate how lucky you are to be reunited with your loved ones, healthy, and surrounded by potential new experiences.
9. Stay in and get creative
Alternatively, you could choose to stay home, but explore other cultures through food, art, and learning.
During the first lockdown, many museums around the world created virtual tours. While it’s not quite the same as standing before masterpieces, it does mean you can visit Paris’ Musee d’Orsay and stroll around The Broad in Los Angeles without leaving your living room.
This is also a perfect opportunity to try out new foods and delicacies.
Some creative people passed their time in lockdown with themed nights, featuring food, music, and (optional) costumes from their preferred ‘destination. Whether it was a party, or part of homeschooling, this idea can be adapted to suit different groups of people.
Particularly if you had a holiday planned, this could be a way to mark the occasion without the risk of travelling.
Cooking or ordering cuisine from a country you’re not familiar with can be exciting. You probably know the local Indian and Chinese menus like the back of your hand, but have you tried authentic Greek? Japanese? or Polish food? It might be time to branch out. You can find pretty much anything on sites like Just Eat, or Google some simple recipes and have a go at creating some cosmopolitan culinary treats yourself.
10. Plan & save
If you had your heart set on a trip abroad, try to focus on making that trip even better when it comes around. Hopefully, travel restrictions will be lifted next year, giving you plenty of time to save some money and make plans. It can be much cheaper to book flights and hotels to far off destinations well in advance, and you can often protect against cancellations by paying by credit card.
However you choose to spend your ‘staycation’, stay safe.
Finally, if you want to treat yourself to a little something in lieu of a holiday, who are we to argue?
*uncredited photos courtesy of our blogger.