In 2013 almost 30% of Britons can’t afford even a week’s annual holiday according a recent report in The Guardian. The figures are “up from less than a quarter before the financial crisis, according to an analysis by the Office for National Statistics, which reveals the day-to-day struggle facing many families.”
During this extended period of financial struggle, Brits are turning more and more to staycations and exploring their homeland, when they can’t afford to go abroad. Spending your break time in the UK, is a realistic alternative that can be every bit as entertaining and restorative as roving farther from home.
In a BBC report, Michael Oliver, a senior analyst with Mintel, says, “Around three-quarters say they are always on the lookout for deals. So if attractions want to keep their customers, that is what they really need to focus on. Tourist boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have taken this on board. They are running a campaign to persuade people to holiday at home or, as they call it, enjoy a staycation.”
According to Hello Magazine, going on a staycation “might just be the best way to escape, relax and rejuvenate for a few days – without the expense of airports and long distance travel to boot. Research conducted by holiday lettings agency HolidayCottages.co.uk reveals a family of four could save up to 81 per cent this year, by holidaying at home instead of heading overseas.” You don’t even have to leave your own home for a successful staycation, as long as you set a few ground rules. Make sure you adopt a holiday mentality – that means relaxing routines, switching off the computer and generally shaking things up. Let the kids take the lead when it comes to meal choices, swap bedrooms, or even camp in the back garden.
Plan in a programme of day trips and activities – visit friends and family, have people over for a garden party, or hold a neighbourhood funday. If you always shop in one town or store, make a change, and have fun exploring your local area as you would any other unfamiliar new holiday destination.
Start viewing yourself as a tourist, with the capacity to make new discoveries even when it comes to the familiar. Visit your local tourist information office for leaflets and literature to inspire and inform. Research resorts, activities and attractions, and ask whether well-learned staff have advice or opinions of their own.
It’s also worth enquiring as to whether any UK tourism bodies are currently pushing initiatives for holidaymakers to visit certain areas – these can take the form of improved amenities and facilities or special offers and discounts. A quick trip to the TI can be a real eye-opener, often revealing a wealth of things to do and places to visit you’d never even considered.
Hard work hols
When you’re on holiday, it’s amazing how hard kids will work – and thoroughly enjoy doing so, too! Farmstay UK – which recently celebrated its 30th birthday- is a scheme that offers families the chance to stay on a working British farm on a B&B or self-catering basis, and even get involved with the day-to-day operations if they like.
Once you’ve arranged a base, simply getting out in the fresh air and open space to discover the delights of the Great British countryside costs nothing and is great for family bonding. If you embrace a strong work ethic, check out UK conservation schemes and archaeological digs for interesting and worthwhile working holidays.
If you have friends who are also ‘staycationing’, why not propose a house exchange? The business is clearly booming according to a feature by Techcrunch on company Love Home Swap: “Love Home Swap grow revenues by 37 percent and triple traffic since funding was closed in December of last year. The company just acquired 1stHomeExchange, to add 23,000 listings.” The greatest thing is that it could be ten minutes down the road or ten hours away by car, the important thing is the change of scene. Alternatively, sign up with a trusted home swap site online and supply information about the type of place you’re after and where you’d like to go. Provided you’re happy to have a family staying in your own home, this is a great option for families on a budget.
The real deal
A real sticking point with a staycation is the cost of transport and attractions. Plan as far ahead as possible to net the best deals, and consider the best way to travel – car, bus or train? Some transport networks offer bundles which include travel, activity costs and even accommodation. Cashing in vouchers from loyalty schemes can mean free or reduced entry to nationwide activities, as can signing up with online group discount ‘experience’ sites.
Take a tour
Whether you’re near home or farther afield, join up to a coach or walking tour of the area. Aside from being a fun way to spend a few hours, you’ll come away enlightened and inspired on what’s around and what you might then want to explore further. Tours also offer first-hand access to a local expert who is bound to be full of ideas, and are social occasions full of like-minded people you could potentially befriend for the rest of your holiday.
Why not join up with another family who are staying in the UK and split the cost of renting a cottage? If you get on well, there’s the potential to collaborate on cooking meals and sharing childcare. If you can share equipment, your physical load will be lightened, and the presence of constant companions for your kids can be stimulating enough on its own without having to plan a programme of additional activities.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: photodune.net/
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: photodune.net/
A lifestyle journalist from London, Kitty Hastings has years of experience writing about home economics, parenting, fashion and travel and how to balance your budget both inside and outside the house. She recommends Eccount Money, a leader in the field of companies specialising in helping people with debt. Kitty’s articles appear in a wide range of blogs and offline publications - and she loves nothing more than relaxing with a cup of tea and a great book and adores anything vintage.