What Is A Staycation?

MikeachimThe Everyday12 Comments

As the leaves turn golden and Christmas approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to what truly sucked about 2009.

Top of my list? “Staycations”.


Oh, you horrible, horrible word – a wretched portmanteau of “stay” and “vacation” (and perhaps a silent “bullshit”).

British media coverage has been intense. Every newspaper, every radio presenter – such as this one – and every inch of travel-themed newsprint seemed obsessed with it. I think I understand why. You know when you wake up in the morning and there’s a song lodged in your head, and it stays there all day – and you loathed it to start with? This is what happened with ‘staycation’ in the Great British Media Consciousness this summer.

And not just in the UK. You can’t blame us – it all started abroad, well before 2009. My fave online travel read World Hum charted an arc from pioneering fascination to a premature obituary and lately to weary resignation. Staycation. It lingers, like a persistent grease-spot or a kippery smell coming from the carpet. It’s unstoppable. We pump round after round into it, and it just keeps coming.

But…what is it?

At the height of the summer madness, the Times Online noted that because of the recession, Brits were staying within Britain for their hols – day-trips, weekends away, or gallivanting around in a camper-van. You stay in the UK, but you travel. The Guardian agreed.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph was defining it as staying in your own home – putting your feet up, ordering pizza, catching up on Lovefilm DVDs, and attemping Do-It-Yourself that resulted in a couple of grand being knocked off the value of your house. In other words, “a luxurious time in your own home”. I recently listened to BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine take a similar tack.

So which is it?

Yorkshire Dales

I’m all for exploring your home country, your home county, your home town. I hardly know York, and now my nomadic plans are starting to crystallize, I’m going to undertake a protracted written goodbye to this city that has housed me for a decade, with articles for fun in here, and other, better articles pitched at paying markets. I’ll thoroughly explore York – and part of that will be staying elsewhere in York, in bed & breakfasts, hotels, campsites, you name it. (This appeals to me greatly, being an idea both adventurous and faintly stupid).

Britain is a wondrous place, I hear. I can’t confirm that, because like 99.9% of the population, I don’t know it very well as a whole. I’ve been here, I’ve been there, but on average I’ve missed out absolutely everything there is to see. I could spend the rest of my life traveling around the UK.


Just as long as I’m traveling.

Staying at home is not traveling. Staying in your own home, no matter where you go for the day, is not the same experience as being truly Elsewhere. Home is a mass of habits, complacencies, commitments and interruptions, and when you stay at home, these suck you right back into the everyday world you long to escape from.

Travel is escapism – maybe even escapology. When you’re at home, there is no escape.

If a staycation is about traveling around, I like the idea (hate the word; like the idea).

If it is about staying at home – please let it die.

Images: mondopiccolo and Mike Sowden.
  • From what I’ve been able to gather, there’s a radius attached to a staycation, with home being the pin stuck in the map and the range of possibilities defined by wherever you could travel to for some activity yet return home by evening.

    • Answered on Facebook. ;) And my answer answered on Facebook. And so on, when I answer your answer to my answer. Oh god.

  • Staycation is staying at home, like a looooonnnnggggg weekend…except it’s longer than a weekend. Usually. I don’t know how it could possibly be distorted into staying within your own country because people often go on vacations that don’t include international travel. The whole point of a staycation is, usually, to save the money that would otherwise be spent on transportation, lodging and eating out.

    However, let’s not forget all the times even those of us who love to travel have said, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.” Although, personally, I don’t think more than a day is required for that. If a planned vacation seems like it will be unusually hectic, maybe cutting it short by one day is the answer. Of course, I’m not a fan of hectic, anyway. Just plan to go back again if there isn’t enough time to do it all in one go.

    In these difficult economic times, though, I can’t fault anyone for wanting to hoard what funds they’ve managed to hang on to. And many of us have things that could benefit from several uninterrupted days of attention. There are times, too, when I can see the appeal of just staying home and vegging out for an extended period. Recharging.

    For those of us who live in resort or tourist areas, lots of beach time or exploring places we don’t normally get around to is a perfectly valid way to spend time. I mean, some people pay a lot of money to come do those things that are daily within our reach.

    So, as much of a travel junkie as I am, I have to say that I totally get the concept of a staycation. But, you’re right, the word just sucks.

    • Superb comment. Ta. :)

      Agreed – hoarding funds, check. :) If the alternative is travelling locally on the cheap, or not travelling at all, definitely the former.

      And staying at home and vegging out – especially for a few days after traveling (excellent point, that one) – is a must. We all do it. I kick myself because I do it too much, in fact – hence why I’m opinionated on the need to get out the house. It’s how I’d like to be, but aren’t quite.

      …but don’t you find that when you’re at home, you fall into old habits? Habits which threaten to derail your peace of mind, your holiday zen?

  • What if you hired in cleaners cooks and various sex workers and made your home a spa?

    • Turn my house into a spa?

      No, it would never work. There’s at least 3 grocery stores in the area already, plus, a big chain-store about a mile away. I’d go out of business within a week.

      But wait – if they were sex workers….

      No, it’ll never work. This is Britain. Sex doesn’t work here.

  • It’s an ugly word that should be left on a hillside to die, is what it is.

    • Oh come on.

      Stop all this dillydally sitting on the fence stuff. Do you like it or don’t you?

  • Anna

    It’s a pointless phrase that no one can accurately define but which the British media and public can’t help adoring. Or at least repeating parrot-fashion. See also ‘Credit Crunch’ (there’s a course on ‘Credit Crunch Marketing’ at our adult ed. this year) – 2009 seems to be the year of these ridiculous nothings. For more definable British nastiness-of-phrase, see ’24-7′, and ‘nine-eleven’, which, really, for Brits, is the ninth of November.

    But as regards staying-at-home-instead-of-going-on-holiday, if you live in Cornwall, and it takes three and a half hours, two trains and a bus to get 40 miles from your home, you are bloody well on holiday, whatever anyone tells you! I could have been in the South of France in less time! So let them try and tell me I stay-cated last week.

    • Oooh, controversy. You reckon it’s actually adored by someone out there? ;)

      I think we should track them down and lock them into their home for a few weeks, like some twisted Sims experiment, with the phone ringing all day and night and the plumbing backed up and the lights coming on at random. Then we can ask them again, they snottily gibber something about Hell, and finally ‘staycation’ is no more. It’s a dream I have.

      Good point about Cornwall. And I sympathize. East Yorkshire is similar. In 2 hours I can either get to King’s Cross in London (150+ miles away), or Hornsea (40 miles away). In fact that’s a lie, it’s 2.5 hours to Hornsea.

      Next up? Landcations, where you can’t fly? Praycations, adventures with spiritual elements? Death to all new words. We have enough already, use *them*.

      English-speakers, go Green with your own language!

      • Anna

        Actually, I think it’s only the British media who adore those expressions, and then only through laziness; for all other users it’s more a seeping in that they are powerless to resist (But I resist, I ALWAYS resist!!!)

        Praycation – I love it! If you haven’t seen that anywhere already, I bet it’ll jump into the public conscious over the next year!…

        I agree, I’m still trying to catch up on old words without all this novelty ;-)

  • A seeping in. Yes, a kind of cultural oozing. Something to resist by default, because most of the time it’s toxic stuff. I’m with you.

    I thought of others – such as the S&M version, the Flaycation – but as that example demonstrates, I should probably keep them to myself. (The words, I mean, not the….er, anyway).