Why I’m Embracing Staycations For 2019

74D43BB7-9BB4-4224-8784-9BA0BA0BDF42.jpg

Staycations. They’ve been a thing for quite a while now, haven’t they? The idea of holidaying in your own country or somewhere closer to home has become pretty common over the past few years, but it’s not something I’ve ever really embraced. Because travel for me has always meant getting away. It’s meant visiting new places and ticking off new sights. It’s meant experiencing new cultures and ways of life, it’s meant learning about the history of other places. It’s meant cramming as much as possible into my precious weeks of annual leave, and it’s meant trying to see as much of this wonderful world as my circumstances allow.

For as long as I can remember, planning a holiday has always started in exactly the same way - searching for flights on Skyscanner and seeing where I can travel to within my budget. I have always looked outwards for inspiration, pinned locations on a map and dreamed about far flung destinations. I unconsciously created a set of rules for myself that meant I only saw a trip as a “proper” holiday if it involved getting on a plane.

But something has shifted in me recently. Maybe it’s because I travel so much for work, never spending more than a couple of days in one fixed location. Maybe it’s because I’ve suffered a couple of bouts of travel burnout in the past few years as a result of trying to squeeze too much into my annual leave. Or maybe I’m just finally starting to embrace the true meaning of a holiday, prioritising rest and relaxation over anything else.

Whatever it is, I’ve found myself approaching our holiday plans a little differently this year. Instead of filling my diary with as many trips and holidays and city breaks as possible, I’ve been more mindful of what I actually want those trips to look like. Rather than working through a big travel bucket list, or booking the flights just because they’re on sale, I’ve been thinking more about what I want my holidays to add to my life.

And I’ve been surprised at the themes and ideas that keep coming up. I’ve always thought of myself as a city dweller, a sunshine seeker, the type of traveller who craves chaos and excitement and jam-packed itineraries. But that’s not where my mind has been drawn this year. Instead, when I think about how I want to spend my hard earned annual leave, I’ve been dreaming about being totally immersed in nature, of getting away from the hustle and bustle, of switching off from all of the noise.

I want to be in the same place for longer than a couple of days. I want to wake up without an alarm. I want to sit and read until I’ve finished my book, rather than jumping out of bed to make the most of the day. I want to wander and get lost and discover little gems, rather than working my way through a city guide. I want to press pause for a while, to take stock, to dream, to be grateful for the here and now. I want to fill my lungs with vast gulps of fresh air, to let my legs propel me up hills and along beaches and around lakes. I want to feel connected to this beautiful world. I want space to breathe and decompress and untangle myself from the myriad to do lists snaking their way around my brain. I want peace and calm and clarity.

And I realised that I don’t need to get on a plane to do any of those things. I can do them right here in the UK. I don’t have to spend days travelling to find beautiful views or breathtaking scenery. I don’t have to spend a fortune on flights to get into relaxation mode. I don’t have to be running around capital cities or famous landmarks to have fun.

Instead, I’m going to be embracing the staycations for a little while. I have trips planned to the Lake District, the Peak District and the Isle of Skye, where the itinerary stretches no further than long rambling walks, pub lunches and reading by the fire. I’m excited to see more of this beautiful country I call home, to be grateful for the beauty right here on our doorstep instead of always rushing elsewhere. But most of all, I’m excited to redefine what travel means to me. To embrace these trips as an opportunity to relax and restore, as well as to learn and explore. I’m looking forward to letting myself truly switch off in a way I never can on those jam packed holidays.

Who knows, by the time spring rolls around, I might be pining for a new adventure somewhere exotic and new. But for now, I’m feeling pretty damn lucky that I get to adventure right here at home.

Travel, UKSophie CliffComment