Holidays – The Staycation Option or, The Future of Quality Leisure Time?
So, it’s that time of year again – you know the one, the one where we used to sit together, as a family, group of friends or couple, glass of chilled sangria in hand, holiday brochures or i-pad at the ready and try to decide where we fly off to for our annual holidays this year.
Only, this year things are going to be a little different and I don’t know about you, but for me, I certainly won’t be mask-on, boarding a bargain, budget or charter flight with 200 hundred other excited souls, potentially coughing and wheezing in all sections of the cabin whilst sharing the same recycled air and occupying the very same seat that, less than an hour previously, was vacated by goodness knows who!
And once landed, there’s the inevitable problem of proving you’ve had your covid vaccinations to a boarder official who doesn’t speak English and can’t believe you’re the same person shown on your passport. Then it’s, “where did my luggage go to?” and if it turns up, “why are my y-fronts hanging out of it?”, “Now lets just try to find our bus” – it can’t be that difficult, there’s fifty of them parked up, all numbered, drivers leaning against the cabs, smoking disinterestedly while you struggle with the family’s cases then tossing them to opposite side of the luggage compartment once you finally get their attention! But hey-ho, we’re here now and off we finally go – two hours after landing.
Then, after another hour and a half of what I like to call “sight-seeing” (which is in fact sitting on a cramped, baking hot coach with fifty other assorted families and couples, tired, frustrated, bursting for the toilet and praying that your name isn’t called out for this particularly grim looking destination you’ve just stopped at), you arrive at your hotel only to find the room isn’t ready yet and when it is, it looks out over the next-door building site or municipal dump!
As a side issue, these photographers must have amazing skills as the accommodation is never quite like the pictures in the brochure or on-line, which reminds me, I must try to track down one of those photographers some-day – my passport photo is really terrible!
The water is undrinkable, the beer, cocktails and house spirits worse, the bed uncomfortable, the air conditioning doesn’t work, the neighbouring room houses a family of banshee’s who never seem to sleep; the hotel food is usually lukewarm and finally, when you take a closer look, the bedding doesn’t really seem that clean after all; the mattress doesn’t bear thinking about and the room – well, it doesn’t look to have had a thorough clean in decades!
The lifts are crammed full of holiday makers from all over Europe, all happily touching every button and surface produced by mankind while breathing and coughing across everyone within close proximity and then, while desperately trying not look anyone directly in the eyes, you’re left wondering what hygiene standards the chefs, waiters, reception, pool and bar staff apply and finally, to top it all off, social distancing is itself a very distant memory once the beer and sangria kick-in. Happy holidays everyone!
In fact, whilst on this subject, the very last place I could reasonably consider for a well – earned vacation right now would be aboard a cruise ship for that matter – luxurious as I’m sure they are, I couldn’t possibly imagine spending all of that time in such close proximity to a couple of thousand other poor souls also with no escape and all of their associated germs to dodge for a week or more whilst most of the above likely still applies and the added bonus of potentially becoming stranded at sea if there’s an outbreak on board and ports won’t allow you to dock!
What about any local restrictions abroad – how will you know about them? Will the shops be open, can we go to the beach, will our favourite bar be open this year, what about the curfew? Are any museums, galleries or historical sites likely to be open this year?
Then there’s the worry of getting home – what if we have to quarantine for a week or more – how much are we going to have pay for all of that and finally, please, not another week locked up with the family, please………………
Such Friendly Locals………
And if non-of this is a concern, then there’s the excursions to worry about; a coach here, a taxi there, tours around the local must-see’s (face masks and social distancing accepted of course and whilst in blistering temperatures too). Snacks and drinks in lovely little tavernas and bars where owners and staff possibly think more about tips and profits this year than anything else – after all, you’re going to be a distant memory in an hour’s time, and they lost a fortune last year!
I’m sorry if this paints a pretty awful picture and forgive me for using more than a few clichés, but tell me some of this hasn’t happened to most of us at some time or another and tell me you aren’t having exactly the same misgivings – or am I just being cynical?
Is it me?
Anyway, enough of my hand-wringing doom and gloom, but I’m just saying, there must be an awful lot of other folks out there, also of a certain age and disposition thinking exactly the same as me – come on, I can’t be the only miserable git out there who’s really concerned about spending a small fortune, not really enjoying myself and potentially catching something incredibly nasty and shuffling off this mortal coil way too early (my opinion, not necessarily that of the current lady of the house).
So, with all of this to the fore of my reasoning, one – word springs to mind – staycation!
However, even that has some drawbacks; where to stay-cate for example, with whom and for how long and why are the prices double what they were last year? are just a few of my thoughts.
But it doesn’t have to be that difficult, not when you could buy the freedom of a motorhome and have as many holidays as you and your spouse could possibly ever desire.
If you think about it, it’s almost the perfect solution – your very own personal space, (or isolation pod as I like to think of them), closed to everyone but you and those lucky enough to be invited in, after thorough vetting that is!
Total freedom and flexibility, the freedom to go exactly where you want to and then do exactly what you want to do and the flexibility to do this whenever you wish and for as long as you want to, too; camp sites, wild camping, pub car parks, your friends and relatives’ driveways – it’s all very simple.
If you really think about this, a campsite could also be the perfect place to enjoy freedom and isolation.
Safety and Social Distancing
You don’t have to use the site’s facilities – toilets, showers, shops, bars etc. because your very own motorhome usually comes complete with its own toilet and shower, kitchen with cooker and fridge (sometimes a freezer too), tv if you fancy that and they can even be fitted with wind-out awnings for additional sun shelter. Some can even have gas BBQ points fitted for alfresco cooking.
You supply your own food and drinks so, nothing you don’t really want passes your lips and the shopping, if you don’t take it with you, can be bought on route or delivered directly to your door if the need or desire’s still there to socially distance.
Your neighbours are usually several meters away from your pitch with their doors on the opposite side too, so social distancing, again, isn’t going to be an issue and camp sites are usually to be found close to beautiful countryside or coastal areas – some even have fishing lakes attached and most non-motor homers would be very surprised at just how good the vast majority of modern sites really are.
Size Does Matter!
So, a motorhome doesn’t have to be huge, it can be and can also have every extra know to mankind too; but then there’s it’s size to consider, it can affect where you travel – too big and English country lanes could prove a challenge; too small and either you won’t have sufficient storage space for clothes and things or, more accurately, the love of your life will but you won’t or, joking apart, too small could potentially restrict the length of time spent away from home or end badly when, after days of constantly tripping over each other, one of you suffocates the other with a pillow during the night!
Thinking clearly and carefully about your particular needs and then having a frank discussion with a good dealer before you buy would be the best advice I can offer; please don’t take size, layout or make and model advice from a friend – no matter their good intentions, what they have suites them, but it doesn’t automatically mean that it will suit you too, you have to make your own decision this time, based on your own needs and preferences and a quality dealer really does know all the negatives and positives and will be happy to advise.
Well, to some, a motorhome could be considered as “roughing it” I suppose, but when you bother to take a closer look at most of the modern models well, nothing could be further from the truth.
Take Auto-Sleepers for example – they are the oldest UK motorhome manufacturer – 60 years this year; every-one is hand built and quality oozes from every angle. Luxurious Belgian fabrics, quality furniture, kitchens a top chef would be proud of and space abound – even in the smallest of models.
Then there’s their fabulous standard features such as large wind-out awnings, mobile wi-fi, solar panels, re-fillable gas tanks, built-in satellite navigation systems, air conditioning – cab and habitation areas too in their Mercedes range; there’s even the option of remote, self-seeking satellite TV systems if you really don’t want to miss anything.
McLouis are another surprisingly good brand, very contemporary, very Italian with lots of style and storage space, garages abound and each sleeping and travelling at least 4 people – great for families and their price point is too – squarely aimed towards the family budget.
Imagine, what could be finer than sitting under your very-own sun awning drinking wine (or gin, beer, cider or any other favourite tipple for that matter) and simply “chilling out” whilst listening to your favourite music or reading the latest novel on your kindle?
Time to Unwind
If that’s not your “thing” then how about a day exploring the local countryside or walking and cycling to places of interest; maybe visit the local beach (social distancing permitting of course) or town centre for that all-important retail therapy hit, (if the shops are open and you have a face-mask).
Then there’s galleries and museums to consider or the local country estate, farm shop or National Trust venue – really, the list of potential activities is endless as are the wonderful places one could pitch-up in the UK alone.
You never know too, the urge to go abroad could still prove too great to resist, in which case there’s always the “tunnel” for quick, easy access to France and beyond (if we’re allowed that is) or endless ferry routes for a more relaxed trip across the water.
Imagine, a lovely warm evening, sun slowly setting, the sound of the ocean in the distance, dining al-fresco with a really great burgundy, fresh-baked French bread, a lovely cheese and a simple salad, all right on your own doorstep and for as long as you feel like it……
And don’t forget, motorhomes are welcomed throughout the UK and Europe and both the UK and Europe are awfully big places to explore and finding beautiful, isolated spots to call your own for a few days before moving on isn’t difficult and the driving? Well, that’s all part of the holiday.
Remember too, once you have a motorhome, you also have the potential for hundreds of holidays, long or short, here, there, anywhere in fact – a long weekend or simple overnighter somewhere local or just a day out in the countryside for that matter, the choice is yours and endless!
So, I hope I’ve planted a seed of optimism for a brighter future this summer and holiday season; and one final fact, a motorhome is nothing like a car in terms of depreciation or residual value and if I’m honest, whilst they possibly aren’t that cheap to buy initially, they should be considered more as an investment and once owned, they will retain a huge proportion of their original value and for a darned sight longer than your average family run-around or caravan and definitely longer than your two weeks package to the sun!
You’ll definitely have so very many more memories from a motorhome holiday and adventures too so, when you sit down to consider the summer holidays, why not take a longer-term view? take a closer look at the motor home option and in particular the Auto-Sleepers and McLouis motor home ranges at Derby Motorhomes, you’re going to be very pleasantly surprised.
Staycation, in your own motorhome/isolation pod – happy holidays everyone.
By Tim Lemon, Director of Derby Motorhomes