In May, my boyfriend and I went to Cumbria and The Lake District on holiday. We live in the UK, so some would call this a “staycation”. A vacation but one which takes place in your own country.
I, for one, am a huge fan of staycations. I live in the South East, just outside of London and I love exploring other parts of the UK I know will be wildly different from my home turf. The UK really is a wonderful place and we really can underestimate it’s beauty.
However, don’t let staycations fool you. Just because you’re not taking a giant suitcase or going on a plane or jetting off to far and distant lands doesn’t mean they’re not stressful and take a lot of planning. They do and here are some tips of things I’ve learnt from various staycations over the years.
1) Take double the amount of money you think you’re going to need
Unlike when you go abroad and often stay in a resort where drinks, breakfast, dinner and sometimes other aspects of the resort are included in the price, during a staycation, you’ll usually pay for your cottage and the rest is up to you. It’s no secret that the UK is an expensive country and there is lots to do and see and very little of it is free. Whilst in the Lake District, I had to desperately ring my mum and ask her to transfer some money over, because I’d ran out by day 4!
2) Thoroughly plan your route including stops
Chances are, you’ll be driving to your destination and although on the grand scheme of things a 4, 5 or even 6 hour journey isn’t very long, it’s still important to plan, plan, plan. I always use Google Maps to check the route and find services or lay-by’s on the way where it’ll be safe and convenient to stop, because it’s important to have a break and stretch your legs from sitting in a car for so long. Print off directions, in case the sat nav breaks and frequently check the travel sites and/or the radio for any incidents on your route.
3) Plan your trip with a reliable company
Whether you choose to stay in a cottage, a B&B, a hotel or something else entirely, it’s important to book it from a reliable company in order to get the most positive experience. Because accommodation can sometimes make or break a holiday. We booked our holiday in Cumbria with Sykes Cottages, who I couldn’t recommend enough. The girl on the phone was so friendly and helpful and they make the booking process so easy, as well as sending you reminders when you need to pay your remaining budget.
4) Choose accommodation that’s out of the way. But not too out of the way.
We had a fantastic holiday in Cumbria but the only downside was where the cottage was situated. It was in a lovely little village, in the middle of nowhere, with a fantastic view – which was exactly our problem. Everything we wanted to see and do was well over an hours drive away and although the cottage was faultless, the only thing I would have done is researched where in relation to everything else it was, so we were closer to the sights and attractions. It also put a great big chunk in our petrol allowance.
5) Watch your internet data
I went over my phone bill by £10 last month because of my holiday. When you’re abroad, you know that texts and phone calls and especially using the internet on your phone is going to cost, but when you’re in your home country, that slips your mind. Well, it slipped mine anyway, until I got a text saying I’d gone over my data allowance. It’s an easy thing to forget when you’re having fun and want to update Twitter on what you’ve been doing for the day so be wary!
6) Research and ask people what the weather is like where you’re going
Granted, it’s not going to be a massive change, unlike when you go abroad where extreme heat can be a bit of a shock to the system but you’d be surprised how much you’ll feel the different from one end of the country to the other! I visited Wales in 2014 and upon entering one of the towns, I noticed everyone had their windows open and walking around in t-shirts. But when I got out the car, I was freezing! The weather to them was obviously pleasant but coming straight from mucky, humid London, it felt really cold.
7) Travel as light as possible
When travelling by car or train, you’ll be doing a lot of luggage carrying yourself. So try and travel as light as possible. Not to mention, the heavier the car is, the more petrol you’ll use quicker, which will result in you spending out for more. The good thing with staycations and staying in cottages, is they usually have washing machines for you to use. So be ruthless in choosing what to take, because chances are you’ll be able to wash your dirty clothes whilst you’re there and re-wear them!
8) Charge up your camera!
Knowing that you don’t have luggage allowance or are restricted, it’s a perfect opportunity to take your camera without worrying about it getting broken on the flight or being thrown around on and off coaches. It also gives you budding photographers out there and good chance to take extra equipment; stands, lenses etc. for the same reason. As I said, the UK is a beautiful place, there are loads of extraordinary places and stunning scenery ready to be captured.
9) Drive carefully
The roads and terrain where you’re going will be extremely different to what you’re used to in your part of the country. There are some very hilly, mountainous areas around the UK, mountain roads you may find yourself driving perilously close to the edge of and uneven terrain throughout the countryside. Whilst we were away in Cumbria, the shock absorber actually broke on my boyfriends car because we were completely oblivious to how bumpy a certain road was going to be. Save yourself the risk and the money and drive slow and carefully!
10) Bring appropriate clothing
By going on a staycation, you’ve probably come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to be spending every waking minute on the beach, basking in the sun and sipping cocktails served to you by a hunky Spanish waiter. Despite the name, during a staycation, you’re unlikely to be “staying” in the same place for very long and there’s lots of countryside and scenery to explore so appropriate clothing is a must; comfortable walking shoes, leggings, walking trousers, jumpers, raincoats (let’s face it, it’s the UK). This is where I made my mistakes by spending the week in tights and dresses. Oops.