I swear the sun was shining when I sat down to write this, but now, in typical British fashion, a large black cloud has appeared across the sky. Summer is galloping closer (is it me or is this year flying by?) and recent meteorological reports that we are set for a blisteringly hot summer – for once – have got me thinking about holidays.
There’s been a lot of buzz in 2009 that, because of the recession, many people will be ditching overseas trips in favour of holidaying in Britain. Certainly, earlier this year some domestic travel companies reported a strong increase in the number of Britons deciding to holiday at home. Bookings are said to be up at Butlins and Hoseasons, and Visitbritain.com reports that over 70 per cent of people in the UK are trying to cut their holiday spending this year.
I love our wonderful British Isles, no matter how blustery and unpredictable the weather. I have spent weeks in Scotland, Ireland¸ the Lake District and Norfolk in my warm coat and plastic mac, grateful for the single day of the week when it didn’t rain. In fact we’re thinking about visiting Norfolk again later this year as we enjoyed it so much last year. Although, to be fair, on many other occasions I have also enjoyed fantastic weather and heard tales of friends who have visited Spain, only for it to pour the entire fortnight. But I’m not convinced that holidaying in the UK is frugal in itself. It’s easy to stay in many places in Britain and spend a fortune on hotel rooms, expensive theme parks, trips and eating out, just as you might abroad.
As with anything else, it’s a good idea to plan ahead first and work out where you could save money on your break away. Would it be cheaper to go on a caravan holiday or camping? Would renting a cottage with friends in the off-season and taking your own food along help trim some costs? Maybe you have friends or relatives living in a holiday resort you could stay with. Could you offer to house-sit for them while they’re away themselves? Alternatively, staying in university accommodation or at a Youth Hostel can also be more affordable and many Youth Hostels now accept families.
If money is especially tight, you could consider staying at home and being a tourist in your local area, visiting nearby attractions – as long as you pick the affordable ones. Sometimes a change of scene is what’s needed and a short weekend break to get away from it all is almost as refreshing as a week away somewhere. Occasionally when DJ and I need a change of scene, we stay overnight at a seaside place in Suffolk. We’re only there for a few hours, but it’s amazing how relaxed we feel by the time we get back. The Visitbritain.com website has some good ideas for holidaying on a budget and free days out.
I think nowadays many people see their annual holiday as an essential, not an optional extra. We all need to unwind and de-stress from our busy lives. But planning ahead and putting money away each month to pay for it should ensure it’s more enjoyable and that we come home relaxed and refreshed – not worrying about how we’ll manage to pay for it all.
Will you be holidaying in the UK this year? Do you think it’s cheaper than going abroad? Got any good ideas for saving money on your hols? Leave a message and let me know.
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