Welcome to Staycation Nation
Apparently this summer is meant to be the summer of the “Staycation”, people deciding to holiday in Britain instead of going overseas in order to save money. This leaves me wondering when it became insufficient to simply Vacate one’s town or city, and why we need a whole new (or rather, American) term for a holiday we take inside our national boundaries.
When I first heard the hype about Staycations, my initial reaction was to imagine Londoners spending a week wondering along the Thames and sun bathing in Hyde Park, York citizens revisiting those museums we often forget we have, Edinburgh people taking a week off work to immerse themselves in the Festival or Fringe. To me the term sounds like a holiday from work in which you enjoy your surroundings without the hassle of work added in, a sort of community enjoyment exercise, if you will.
Instead, I’m led to believe that it still requires people travelling some distance to stay in a hotel, in order that they can imagine they’ve completely left the world from which they are escaping. My view on this is more or less a mix of tragic realisation that our lives are so full of crap and our jobs so unfulfilling that we have to run away, and a sense that this is really still very much a vacation.
My stepfather recounts holidays in which his Mum took him and his Brother to a house in rural-ish Kent for a month in summer, and from which their father would commute daily to London. Even that seems to me to be a fairly reasonable vacation for all but the father figure, to whom the change was probably as good as a rest (I believe he would then take a week at the end of the month to just enjoy the surroundings).
Perhaps more than anything we’ve become so conditioned into believe we have some kind of right to international travel for our holidays, that we’ve forgotten how to holiday within our own country; its a shame, for this country does have such a lot to offer. From music festivals to hiking to High Culture and even, yes, shockingly given we’re, like, an Island: Beaches! And some of them are actually cleaner than some of the European ones we Brits apparently love. I suspect thats because we’ve spent the last decade flying over the British beaches so we can trash the Spanish ones instead.
I think the points I want to get at are two-fold. First, this new term in our vocabulary indicates a normativisation of overseas holidays, or more simply, we think the default is to holiday overseas, that our language is actually a reflection of our spoilt situation. Second, that we’re becoming so in need of an escape from our work that its clear our work culture isn’t just environmentally unsustainable, its also becoming humanly unsustainable; all these people who’ve apparently “made it” in some sense or other, actually are so unsatisfied with the way they must live that they have to run off to another landmass to be far enough away from it all.