When we wrote our 2020 New Year’s Resolutions, most of us were spending time with family – near and far – for the holidays. My family happens to be scattered around the world so visiting them inevitably means flying. I wanted to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible for my next holiday so resolved to have a summer staycation (and encouraged everyone in our office to do the same!).
And then the world changed and staycations became the norm.
Whilst we might be dreaming of our next overseas adventure at the moment, or vicariously living through reruns of Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man or The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, spending your well-deserved holidays at home, on day trips or even exploring parts of the UK further afield has numerous economic, environmental and social benefits.
The prevalence of cheap flights accelerated the growth of short, frequent tourist trips before Covid struck. But the cost of a holiday is not just limited to transportation; it’s also the accommodation, food & drink and activities. So a staycation shouldn’t hit your purse strings quite as hard as a trip further from home. The money you do spend, however, will most likely go back into the local economy, often to small businesses. Domestic tourism has become increasingly important to the UK tourism sector this summer to support local jobs and industries that rely on visitors.
For time-poor travellers, some employers are starting to offer Climate Perks – paid days to travel if you choose low-carbon transport. For journeys by train or ferry, Seat61 offers practical advice to get the best deals (and often the best seats) to destinations around the world.
Planes, trains, automobiles – the way we travel to a holiday destination has an incredible impact on the environment. In fact, the transport choices we make to get to and from our holiday destinations influence our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions more than anything else.
Some tourist hotspots are also experiencing environmental degradation due to infrastructure development, pressures on finite resources and disturbances of wildlife and their habitats, to name a few. But experiential tourism appears to be gaining favour, with a focus more on the environment, heritage and culture of an area. As the saying goes, “Take nothing but memories; leave nothing but footprints”.
Flying isn’t what I’d call a relaxing experience. I often don’t sleep the night before an early flight, worry about getting to the airport in heavy traffic on time, arrive early only to find out the flight’s been delayed, and then there’s the travel time itself. Forget about jetlag, 100 ml bottles of liquids and that loose change in your pocket before a body scan. Take the stress out of travel and stay grounded to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Travel is about new experiences, but you don’t have to travel far to find these.
During lockdown, I discovered a Fairy Forest within walking distance of my home. For adrenaline junkies, there are brilliant kiteboarding spots (when the wind is right) along Weston Shore. Colleagues recommend walking along Weston Shore to Netley Abbey for a great picnic spot or visiting the Royal Victoria Country Park and going up the tower to ring the bell (bonus: if your legs get tired, you can catch a train back to the city). One colleague chose to spend her free time perfecting her bartending skills by creating summer cocktails in her gorgeous garden.
A short train trip or longer bicycle ride from the city gets you to the New Forest, where you can spend the whole day spotting ponies and other wildlife, and to Winchester for amazing architecture and riverside walks. Crossing the Solent by ferry transports you to one of the many islands of the British Isles for a day trip to visit Osborne House or weekend trip to see the Needles and explore the maritime gateway city of Cowes.
For those who feel like a proper break involves a night or more away from home, Cardiff, Gower and Pembrokeshire in South Wales are my colleague’s top picks. She describes idyllic beaches along the coast with fewer crowds than in Cornwall, star gazing into the Dark Sky in Brecon Beacons and fond memories of the area both as a child and as an adult.
When I first moved to this country and was looking for places to visit, I kept hearing about the three B’s: Bristol, Brighton and Bath. And these did not disappoint!
Every one of these places is accessible by train from Southampton and offers a bit of everything, from countryside to coastlines, so whether you like sunbathing on beaches, hikes through national parks or cycling expeditions across diverse terrain, there’s something in the UK for you.