(Last updated on: 19/10/2020)
The staycation is a relatively new concept within the tourism industry. In fact, it is actually somewhat contradictory. At the very core of tourism is the movement from one’s home to a holiday destination. Yet, a staycation is exactly as it implies- staying at home.
So what exactly is a staycation and it is really a form of tourism? I will explain all in this post.
- What is a staycation?
- Definitions of staycation
- Motivations for taking a staycation
- Typical staycation activities
- The advantages of a staycation
- The disadvantages of a staycation
- The best UK staycations
- Staycation tips
- Packing for a staycation
- Staycation explained: To conclude
What is a staycation?
The clue is in the name. A staycation involves staying in or around home. But what does this actually mean?
A staycation is a form of domestic tourism. It is essentially involves undertaking tourist-based activities that are located not too far from home (note- ‘not too far’ is very subjective- I will discuss this shortly when I define the term staycation).
So what are these tourist-based activities? Well, these are wide-ranging. You could be attending an event or visiting a local nature spot. There could be a museum or a theme park in your area. Perhaps it’s a spa that takes your interest or a countryside walk. Or maybe you have decided not to leave the house at all and to instead take part in virtual tourism.
Staycations tend to dip in and out of popularity. This is largely due to external circumstances such as the economic and political climate.
In the height of the global economic recession of 2008, for example, many people opted to take a staycation because they could not afford to travel abroad. Similarly, staycations became popular during the Coronavirus outbreak, when travel was restricted in many parts of the world.
Definitions of staycation
When it comes to defining the term staycation, there is quite a bit of ambiguity- what does it actually mean to stay?
According to Staycation, it is:
‘a vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying that entire home and [all] one’s home environs have to offer’.
Wixon (2009), however, provides a slighter loser definition, stating that a staycation is:
‘a vacation in which the vacationer stays at home, or near home, while creating the environment of a traditional vacation’.
Also suggesting that a staycation means staying at home, Vackova (2009) prescribes that a staycation involves the exploration of the environment close to where the tourist lives, such as staying in a city hotel or exploring the countryside near their home.
So it is clear from these definitions that a staycation means staying in or close to your home. But what about distance? How far away can we travel before our trip is no longer defined as a staycation?
In the UK we often refer to any domestic trips as a staycation. But I suspect that could be because of the small size of the United Kingdom. The culture and weather is not vastly different between north and south and you can simply jump in your car and travel to another part of the country quite easily.
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In a large country, such as the USA or China, however, I don’t think the term staycation is used in quite the same way. These countries encompass multiple time zones, differing climates and they even have some significant differences in cultures between areas.
Whilst somebody who lives in California might refer to a holiday in California as a staycation, if they were travelling to Alaska, they probably wouldn’t classify their trip as a staycation.
Research has suggested that there are some defining characteristics of a staycation, other than location. Sharma (2009) states that there tends to be an absence of chores in the home when undertaking a staycation. Instead, days are packed with various activities. Alban (2008) states that people tend to refrain from accessing work e-mails and calls during a staycation.
Motivations for taking a staycation
There are many reasons that a person or people may opt for a staycation. Here are some of the most common motivations:
The economic climate can dictate many things in life, including the tourism industry.
People only tend to go on holidays when they have the money to do so. If money is tight, vacations are often the first thing to go.
There have been several periods of time throughout the history of tourism when people have been reluctant or unable to travel as a result of the economic climate. The most notable times were the Second World War and the economic recession of 2008.
During these times people had less disposable income and therefore had less money to spend on travel. As a result, many people opted for staycations and domestic holidays as an alternative to an international vacation.
If a destination is in political turmoil there may restrictions places on where and when people can travel. People may also feel scared to travel. This is often a time when people will choose to stay home and have a staycation.
Ease of travel
Some people do not want the hassle of travelling. These people may choose to undertake tourist activities close to home or to take a trip in an area that does not require a lot of travelling to reach.
This is particularly popular with people who are not in a position to travel far. For example, they may have young children, have a disability or have work commitments close to home.
Availability of travel options
Some people choose to have a staycation because of the availability of travel options in their area. I once considered a job posting in the Seychelles- if my family had chosen to move there we would have been taking most of our holidays close by due to the sheer cost of transportation off of the islands.
Many people are now recognising the importance of supporting your local community. Instead of travelling to another location, people prefer to spend their money locally, so that the local area can reap the rewards of the tourist spend.
Security and fear
Another reason that some people will choose a staycation over a trip involving more substantial travel is due to security and fear.
This was particularly prominent after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, which put people off flying. For several months afterwards consumer confidence was low and people were opting for other means of transportation, which meant taking their holidays closer to home in many cases.
Epidemics and pandemics
2020 saw the Coronavirus sweep across the world, causing havoc on the tourism industry. Epidemics and pandemics are likely to put a temporary halt to travel and immobilise the tourism industry. This means that the only holiday option may be a staycation.
Typical staycation activities
A staycation can consist of a wide array of tourist-based activities. Here are a few examples:
- Watching or taking part in sporting events
- Relaxing on the beach
- Enjoying countryside areas
- Visiting an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB)
- Visiting a museum
- Watching a live show
- Going to the cinema
- Taking part in activities, such as horse riding or motor car driving
- Attending an event or festival
- Staying in a local hotel
- Taking a spa break
- Going to a theme park or leisure park
- Taking part in sport activities such as gold or mountain bike riding
- Going hiking
- Learning a new skill, such as artwork or a language
- Going camping or clamping
The advantages of a staycation
There are many advantages of a staycation. I have listed the main ones below.
One o the major reasons that a person opts for a staycation is because it is generally cheaper than travelling further afield.
Of course, a staycation can cost a lot, depending on what activities etc you choose to do.
However, by opting for a staycation the tourist is eliminating, or significantly reducing the cost of travel.
Taking a staycation is often thought to be easier than travelling further afield.
There is likely no language barrier, no need for currency exchange and few cultural differences between home and away.
Supporting the local community
Taking a staycation is a way to help boost the local economy. Staycations often support local businesses.
A staycation can often be better for the environment because we are travelling less. No flights and less transport means less CO2 emissions, which can only be a good thing!
The disadvantages of a staycation
Depending on where you live, your staycation options may be limited. There may only be one or two options for you to choose from, for example.
One of the major reasons to travel for many people is that excitement that it brings. Whilst travelling locally can also be exciting, it may not quite as enthralling as visiting exotic shores with new cultures.
If there is not a great deal of choice in the local area then tourists may find that taking a staycation can become a bit repetitive.
In the UK, for example, there are many wonderful countryside areas, but they do offer similar things to do and have similar weather- so some people may find this type of holiday repetitive if they choose to take a staycation regularly.
The best UK staycations
The are many great places to take a staycation throughout the world. However, as I am based in the UK, I have decided to highlight some of the best staycation destinations based in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Fortunately, if you are in the UK you don’t need to travel far for incredible scenery, brilliant culture and plenty of fun things to do. Here are some of my favourite examples.
#1 The Lake District
There are plenty of places within the Lake District that make for the perfect staycation. You can travel here independently or you can book a tour, like this one.
Famous for its lakes (of course) and high fells, there is so much natural beauty here. With hotels and holiday homes galore, you won’t struggle to find a beautiful place to stay in the Lake District. Personally, I would opt for an Airbnb because you can find some unique and private ac commendations in some great areas.
Kendal is perfect for a day trip, while the Windermere area is brilliant for a longer stay. There are plenty of little villages, farmers markets, museums and tea shops to spend your days in!
#2 North Wales
There are so many different places in North Wales to explore.
There are beautiful towns and rolling green hills, clean beaches and plenty of golf courses. If you’re the adventurous type (like me) you could climb Mount Snowdon, visit Caernarfon Castle, admire the beauty of Llandudno – the options are endless.
When the weather is good, North Wales is one of the most beautiful places in the world. And when it’s bad, there are plenty of pubs and National Trust properties to pop into…
If you want more of a city break than anything outdoorsy, head to Liverpool.
Famous for The Beatles and having a big Titanic connection, Liverpool is an incredible city. With friendly locals, more bars than you could ever need AND plenty of opportunities to learn, there is everything you could need for the perfect city break.
Liverpool is ideal for a weekend away with friends or family. Take a walk around the Albert Docks, visit the World Museum, eat tapas at Para Ti, drink some craft beer on Dale Street and get your head down in one of the many hotels across the city.
#4 Center Parcs
Located in the UK and Ireland, there are six Center Parcs holiday villages.
You can stay at one of these for either 3 nights over a weekend, 4 nights during the week, or a full 7 night period.
At Centre Parcs you can cycle, swim, eat & drink, or just sit back and relax. With sports courts, laser tag, and a lot more activities as well as popular chain restaurants and beautiful accommodation, Center Parcs is one of the best places for a family-friendly staycation.
Another place for a metropolitan city break!
England’s capital is full to bursting with things to do. From the multitude of museums and open spaces to the various bars, restaurants and clubs, London has it all.
Head to see the changing of the guards, and then treat yourself to lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. See the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory, then pop to the West End to see a show. A tourist hotspot, but definitely somewhere worth visiting.
London may not be the cheapest staycation destination in the UK, but if you are on a budget it does have plenty of museums with free entry, you can walk around much of the city and you cal always take a packed lunch out with you.
I visited Cornwall a few years ago and I was surprised at how much the beaches reminded me of southern France or Spain.
Cornwall has loads of cultures (you’ve heard of Cornish pasties, right?) and lots to do. Whether you enjoy surfing, laying on the beach or exploring the Eden Project’s vast array of flora and fauna, there is lots to keep you entertained in Cornwall.
Brighton is a city that’s easily accessible from London.
Having grown up in south London, I spent many long summer days eating ice creams on the pebbles of Brighton’s beach and playing on the slot machines on the pier.
Brighton can be reached on the train or by car in about half an hour from London and is accessible from many other parts of the country too.
I just love Britain.
I’ve heard wonderful things about Scotland. From the Highlands and Islands to hiking Haydrians Wall, to visiting the famous pandas in Edinburgh zoo, there is plenty to keep yourself entertained.
To get the most out of your trip to Scotland I would recommend booking a tour so that the guides can show you the best bits without the hassle of getting lost etc. Viator has some great options.
Devon is another part of the UK that is just spectacular. The countryside areas are beautiful and there are some great National Trust sites such as Lydford Gorge and Cheddar Gorge. I visited some years back and would love to return with the kids someday.
The Norfolk Broads and beaches are said to be some of the most beautiful areas of the United Kingdom.
The national park has over 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways set in beautiful countryside. You can stay on a boat or in one of the many beautifully characterful cottages.
Still undecided on where is the best place for a staycation in the UK? The infographic below has some more ideas!
Whether you are new to the concept of a staycation or whether you are a seasoned domestic tourist, here are a few tips that I have picked up along the way-
- Set a budget. It’s easy to think that because you’re not paying out for flights, you can just spend at random. But it’s worth noting how much everything is costing, and making sure it doesn’t go over a certain amount.
- Go self-catering. If you can, book somewhere that has a kitchen. This allows you to save money on eating out, and if you’re driving to your staycation destination then you can pop to your local supermarket before you go.
- Do something different. Try your hand at gorge-walking, visit a theme park, go camping for the first time. While these are all things that you might do when holidaying abroad, they are also things you can do on a staycation!
- Make use of offers. As you’ll be in the same country as you normally are, offers that already apply will still. Student discount or apps like Tastecard are great ways of packing more into your staycation without spending too much money.
- Get creative. Really want to travel but don’t have the funds? Offer to pet sit for a friend or family member or join Trusted Housesitters – it’s basically a free holiday for you!
Packing for a staycation
When packing for a staycation, it can often be easier than packing to go abroad.
There are generally no weight restrictions, and there are no limits in terms of taking liquids with you, which is a bonus.
More often than not you can guarantee the weather will be pretty similar to how it is where you live, so you won’t have to get the holiday clothes down from the attic either…
Staycation explained: To conclude
As you can see, the concept of a staycation is one that has is here to stay. Whether you choose to holiday in your own home or whether you travel domestically, there are lots of options for staycations in the UK and abroad.
Have I covered everything that you need to know about a staycation? If not, please do let me know in the comments box below!