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Updated: January 2021

It has become almost impossible to predict when the hospitality and travel industry will be able to return to any normal, with the Metro even having an article about whether we should, in fact, be booking holidays. With scientists and advisors telling us that by spring, we will see a difference, you can only imagine the excitement of the many desperate travellers who have their fingers currently poised over that all-important confirm payment button. However, many of us struggle to travel due to anxiety and even more so now that we are facing disruption to our lives. Many of us are now looking for alternatives to our usual summer break. Although the UK and Europe plan to allow holidays, many families have decided to stay at home.

Isn’t it just a staycation?

I grew up with the term, staycation, meaning you stayed at home and made day trips, days out to the local park, and lived close enough a lovely trip to the beach. Over the years, the terminology has changed, and staycations now mean staying in the UK. But whichever way you see it a UK staycation is a good idea. Whether abroad, at home or in the UK, holidays will seem different, with many families deciding that it just won’t feel like a holiday if lockdown restrictions apply.

That doesn’t mean its the end of ‘summer’, before having our children, we often struggled to afford a holiday due to our mortgage and debts, so we looked for alternatives and considered finances. It can be easy to spend more on what appears to be a stay at home holiday.

Finances

Talking of finances, I need to touch on it a little. If you have an annual holiday budget, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply if you stay home. My husband and I usually allocate £100 a day for our summer holiday, which includes a day out, snacks and food (we don’t like to cook too much on holiday), and we both hate having to count the pennies as my Nan used to say.

So we make a plan, work out spending money, food (including eating out), days out, activities and shopping. We then know what funds we are playing with, and we add a bit for emergencies.

Planning Stay at Home Holiday Activities

Before I begin, I want to point out the obvious. A stay at home holiday doesn’t mean Mum or Dad continue to work from home; big brother sits upstairs on his Xbox, and technology is life! I know! It’s hard for me to shut my laptop sometimes when I want five minutes, but this is a time to be spent as a family, enjoying each other, during a time that we may never get back.

Women with laptop writing notes
Stay at Home Holiday Planning

So my first suggestion is to make a plan! But be flexible. If the weathers awful and that trip to the zoo is cancelled (British weather sucks), don’t stress, have a few rainy day activities on standby. We like to use the cinema as our rainy day activity or with toddlers in tow, a play zone (hoping the restrictions will be eased soon), but it could easily be a virtual trip to a museum (yes, that is a thing now). Only you know your family, but here are a few cost-effective ideas.

10 Stay at Home Holiday Activities

Picnic in the Garden

Picnic in the garden/park – Grab a blanket, an icebox and head into the garden for some well deserved time together or a local park. In the UK, we enjoy a good picnic, with there being some great picnic spots to explore. If you are invested, you could make treats to take like sausage rolls, cakes or cheese straws. Set the kids up with some colouring books, audiobooks or puzzles and enjoy the great outdoors together.

Garden Camp Out – I’ve never been one for camping, but I have owned a tent in my 20’s. It doesn’t have to be expensive; you could borrow a tent or some decent-sized ones on Amazon like this four-person tent would fit in the average family garden. If, however, you fancy a little home from home, some companies offer glamping experiences. They come in, set up and leave you to your outdoor cookout or movie experience. Grab some popcorn and set up your very own outdoor movie theatre!

Water Fight – In the UK, we get the odd spell of hot weather, and we don’t all want to influx a beach, so why not get out the pool, jet slide, buckets or water guns and cool off. It could be just what you need to entertain those bored boys (I have one of those, unsure if the husband counts). Just remember to have plenty of towels handy.

Family Water Fight

Local Attractions – I am grateful to live in an area with zoos, theme parks, aquariums, theatres, museums, and if I want to, we can hop on a train to London within the hour. It was only a few years ago that we discovered a nearby splash park. Some time’s we forget what is right on our doorstep. Portsmouth is only a few miles away, so we’ve often jumped in the car to Southsea and enjoyed Clarence Pier’s rides and enjoyed fish and chips after. It doesn’t have to be expensive but if you have kids who adore attractions or zoos, maybe invest in an annual pass to a local attraction. You usually save money, and there may be some excellent deals around.

Bug/Bear/Gruffalo Hunt – I live in an area with various woodland walks just a short car journey away, and plenty of National Trust locations nearby to visit, and they often offer activities and mini-adventures for the kids to enjoy. From quizzes, treasure hunts and more. You don’t have to stray too far. Print an activity sheet and head into some woods for a walk, and see what you can discover.

Family Bake Off – A rainy day can throw all outdoor plans into turmoil, but if there is a budding baker in your family, maybe get out the aprons and make some simple treats or for the more adventurous. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t even have to bake. You could also make some tasty treats for a movie afternoon or an indoor picnic (I loved them as a kid).

No Baking Required Treats

Puzzles/Quizzes/Board Games – Who doesn’t love a good puzzle or board game? If like us, you aren’t one for puzzles or board games, there are plenty of online quizzes and treasure hunt games to keep you busy.

Create a holiday scrapbook – This is something that I wish I had started when I was younger. It’s not complicated. It is just a standard notebook or some plain paper and find some old photos from last years holidays or go online and print some cute things off. Give each member of the family a page or two and see what you can create. It may be a way of getting you to consider it after your next trip as I do think that we should share travelling with our children. Don’t put it off until their older; they should be experiencing things now! If a scrapbook sounds far too complicated, I love creating digital photo books with Snapfish. They always seem to have a great offer, which is currently 50% off! Our children love looking back through our many years of holidays.

Holiday Scrapbooking

Learn a New Language – There are so many websites and apps that can assist with learning a new language. When I was 14, I decided to learn Spanish (not taught in school then) and booked out a book and cassette (I am that old) from the library for the summer and sat on the beach learning. I managed the basics, but I wish I’d continued. It was helping my daughter with her French studies has inspired me to consider learning it again. It can be something you do as a family or individually. I would suggest teaching colours or numbers first if younger kids.

Arts & Crafts – A list wouldn’t be complete without some time for arts & crafts. I have a husband with OCD which moves very difficult when the sight of paint makes him panic, so over the years, we’ve never replaced our crafts box, but homeschooling has taught me that we do need it when our son’s school ask you to make masks, pictures books and felt animals and all the shops are shut! I do have a love of Hobbycraft! But I do love a good colouring book or picture of Mum and Dad so if you want a chill-out day, never say no to grabbing the art box.

Arts & Crafts

Not Feeling Like a Holiday

So there are a few ideas to get you started. There are plenty more sources on the internet, and as mentioned, museums are offering virtual tours if that is something that interests you. It’s just to get you thinking about some of the things you could do. Maybe the staycation is becoming the new vacation?

There is this risk that being at home means it never feels like a holiday but if you consider creating a summer holiday planner, to not only keep you motivated but also keep track of what you have planned. You cook every night, the washing up still needs doing, and they’re always seems to be a laundry pile waiting to put in the machine. Having the right mindset from the beginning means that these ‘normal’ things don’t have to ruin your stay at home holiday. Order a cheeky take-out, get your shopping delivered to the house, use a local company to bring an afternoon tea or a party pack to your home. It doesn’t have to feel like you aren’t ‘away’. I heard from friends how they are getting their houses ‘holiday’ ready! One even described it as ‘hotel’ ready with new bed linen, and they also planned to have a holiday type of breakfast every morning. I’m not talking buffet but sat alfresco.

However, you decide to spend your 2021 holidays, whether at home, in a beautiful holiday cottage or you choose to jump on a plane. It will be your holiday. I’m hoping that this post has inspired you to consider something different. Please let me know in the comments below what plans you have for the summer?

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15 Comments

    1. Thank you Damaris, I appreciate you taking the time to read and reply. I agree a staycation is a ‘home’ holiday!

  1. These are some great ideas here; and love the idea of trying to stay at home for a holiday! I like all the variety of options – and there are so many useful resources out there now that make learning something new etc so much easier! Thank you for sharing.

    Paige // Paige Eades

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