Wednesday 1 October 2014

Urban Dictionary

Staycation: (n) a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions.

Or what you do when you are skint. A little bit of honesty sometimes will not go amiss. Of course there’s more to “staycation” than finances and luckily, nowadays it’s a choice most of us can make. It’s even been recognised as an official word by the Oxford English Dictionary. So, all those holidays in the Wirral finally paid off.

But going back to choices for a second, I have often been told by people born and raised here in Blighty that many years ago low-income or working class families didn’t have many (choices, that is). Therefore, it was always a few days away in Blackpool in the summer every year. Or a day trip to Frinton- or Southend-on-Sea. Or whatever money allowed. Sometimes not even that. Two or three years would go by before a trip in the old banger was arranged hastily the night before for the morning after.

Blackpool, UK. But would you not rather be in Minorca?
But in recent years, low budget holidays abroad have changed that. Cheap flights, all-inclusive accommodation and a more moneyed (and money-minded) working class have contributed to the exploration of boundaries beyond Dover. Even if this still means some stereotypical British tourists trying to make themselves understood using the old method of SPEAKING IN A VERY LOUD VOICE, PRONOUNCING EACH WORD VERY CAREFULLY. Mind you, at least you lot are better than my lot. Cubans can’t even travel freely. And what to say of the pioneers of staycation, the denizens of the old socialist bloc? Yes, some were allowed to travel from the former Soviet Union to East Germany, for instance (as long as they toed the party line and they were considered to be model citizens), but the landscape in both Moscow and Berlin was coloured by the KGB and the Stasi respectively. Bearing in mind that most eastern European socialist countries were thought as extensions of the Kremlin’s back garden; staycation is an appropriate term to use. So, my dear Brits, please, do carry on ASKING WHERE THE EIFFEL TOWER IS. Clue: it’s right behind you!

This boom in short- and long-haul holidays left the UK tourist industry depending more on tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the Queen or castle-hopping. Suddenly Ayia Napa was far more interesting than Lyme Regis. Until 2008.

With the financial crisis of 2008 many habits changed. Holidays were amongst those activities that underwent a makeover. Because when you think of it, no matter how cheap your flight to Rome is, you still have to find accommodation. Maybe you want to incorporate car-hire, and how about the insurance? Suddenly that hundred quid holiday turns into a thousand –pound one. Compare that to £299 for a two-bedroom cottage in Devon that sleeps four. That’s the annual family summer holiday sorted. Yes, of course, there’s still the petrol to factor in and the catering, but does anyone really include petrol costs in their vacation planning?

Staycation is here to stay, pardon the tautology. I have always been of the opinion that one should (must, even) know one’s country like the back of one’s hand first before venturing out to explore other lands. I, unfortunately, have never been to eastern Cuba and that’s been in my to-do list for many years now for when we go back. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Perhaps the economic collapse of 2008 will have inadvertently a positive effect on the younger generation and will awaken their desire to discover the wealth of culture, history and nature the UK has to offer. Who knows? Maybe it will be French-speakers they will come across, asking: OÙ EST LE CHÂTEAU ACTON, S’IL VOUS PLAÎT? Clue: it’s right behind you!

© 2014

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 5th October at 10am (GMT)


  1. That's a lovely photo! The problem these days is all the prices of everything go, gas, travel, clothing, rent, bus fare, really, everything! Sadly, the salaries don't rise quickly enough to handle it. Here in Quebec, French is the first language. Although my mother tongue is English, I am fluent in French.

  2. Yeah you can get there with the cheap flight, but once you are there you pay up the arse for everything. Staycation's are much better. Plus you don't have to deal with germy airports.

  3. We have made the most of staycations, but I still think international travel is one of life's finest joys.

  4. My travel usually is dictated by my interests rather than by my dollars and cents, and probably will continue to be that way. Leisure time is different for a man alone than it is for a couple or for a family. But, I understand your point, CiL, and have been there.

    Vacations? Holidays? Those words gradually have become archaic, obsolete words to me. I go somewhere for business, for personal education, for being in the midst of Nature and away from civilization, for new experiences and discovering what life is like for the people who live in a particular region foreign to me. There may be no shortage of things to do and places to see close to home, but, again, I prefer to follow my interests.

    The last place you would find me would be in a theme park or at a popular resort -- although, I would like to "explore" a casino or two in Monte Carlo before I cash in my chips.

  5. well...i would still like to make my way to europe at some point...we still have plenty of the states to lest 20 more states to get to..ha...i like finding new places...and tight funds just makes you have to be creative...

  6. Blackpool doesn't look that bad to me. I love staycations.

  7. I am a big fan of staycations. And there is a whole lot of my country I have yet to see.

  8. I'm incurably curious - about everywhere and anything. So far this year I've been to Cuba, Berlin, Brighton and Ireland - all wonderful in such different ways.

    I'll stick to the long-haul trips in the winter - and look closer to home when the weather is kinder here. Places are not better or worse than each other - just different. (And I do know just how lucky I am to have these choices.)

  9. Excellent post, Cuban. I go back to the years when holidays weren't thought of let alone undertaken. Maybe once a year a day trip to Weston-Super-Mare or nearby Hereford, but never by old banger. We didn't know what old bangers were in those days nor did we know about cars. And you know, those days out were more appreciated than a two week vacation in some exotic place. Yes, I've done the latter many times but in terms of value the single day out was more appreciated than one we paid thousands for.

    Having said that I do appreciate that my lot had it good compared to your lot and am thankful that we didn't have to experience such awful restrictions. We were only restricted by time, money, and the lack of inventiveness - other than that we had freedom and for that I am eternally thankful.

  10. Cuando mas pronto se viaje mejor, pero no siempre las vacaciones es viajar sino más bien relajar el cuerpo olvidarse del trabajo y disfrutar de los suyos, son vacaciones muy buenas de las que has podido disfrutar, los tiempos cambian y todo llega muchas veces.
    Un abrazo.

  11. I love staycations but I also love travelling.

  12. As you know I love England and I'm always happy to spend time here. The b&bs do seem a bit samey though after a bit. I suppose the thing about going away though is that you find a different set of "norms" !

  13. Thanks for your comments. I agree, after a while some B&Bs do start to look the same. However, what I like about vacationing in the UK is the contrast in landscapes, which for a true-blood city boy like me is like manna from heaven. Mind you, for a while, I still need high rises and pavement, plenty of pavement.

    It was only recently when we came back from France that I told my family that what I really liked about international travel was the preparation, the trip to the airport, the check-in. Strange, as we missed our flight on the way out to France, but there you go, I love that stage of the journey. The reason is simple@ I never did any travelling abroad when little. So, I missed out on that expectation, the early morning, the parental worries about safety at the airport, the rush towards the boarding gate. They are all part of travel and holidays.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Greetings from London.

  14. I am a huge fan of fact my passport expired long ago and I haven't yet renewed it!lol
    Although these Islands are relatively small, there is so much to see and fact, if I continue travelling to a different location every couple of weeks (as I have been doing for the past year or so), I reckon there will still be parts of the UK I haven't seen by the time I expire (hopefully of old age!). :)

  15. i love to travel and see other countries, meet different people and i haven't yet seen all of germany... and sometimes it's just good as well to stay at home and discover the immediate area around you in a new way

  16. Since my husband and I are retired, I guess you could say we're on a permanent vacation. And as far as staycations? We started doing that long before there was a word for it. The way I see it, with the right attitude, just about anything can be an adventure, and there's plenty of things to see and do right in our own back yards. (So to speak.)

  17. Yep, we took a staycation this summer too. It's greener too. Thanks for reminding us that foreign travel is not necessarily a right, depending on where you live.



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