When we think of relaxing holiday breaks, our first thoughts turn to hot tropical islands getaways or long, languid days spent somewhere on the continent, a couple of bottles deep into something crisp and local.
Think again. In fact, it’s surprising just how many of us forget that the UK is home to some of the most serene spots in Europe and beyond. Indeed, there are some truly stunning destinations here, on terra firma, including peaceful retreats, national parks, and more coastal breaks than you could shake a sandy stick at.
One thing that has come out of the last year is our renewed appreciation for long weekends in the UK. However, unless planned carefully, a staycation can become stressful. Whether you’re heading to the Highlands, Wales, Cornwall or the Cotswolds, if you want to have a truly relaxing holiday when you next book some time off, there are a few ways you can make sure that you return feeling completely refreshed and zen. With that in mind, here are 8 IDEAL tips on how to have a truly relaxing staycation.
PACK IN ADVANCE
Knowing what to pack can be stressful when travelling, especially in the UK when you can never quite predict the weather. Dressing in layers will inevitably bring a heatwave, and confidently stepping out in shorts and a t-shirt is a direct affront to the rain gods, so take no chances and cover all bases, packing wise.
You want to make sure that you have everything you need, but you also don’t want to overpack as all that excess will just weigh you down. Integral, then, to plan ahead so you can determine which items you need for your trip and which ones you can cross off the list and forget about.
Some of the most common things people forget when travelling include toothpaste, phone chargers, umbrellas, sunscreen, sunglasses (yep, even in good ol’ Blighty sunglasses are essential) and reading glasses, the latter of which we have done numerous times. A spare pair of reading sunglasses, then, is essential. The experts at Just-glasses.co.uk suggest this is a smart move to ‘’protect your eyes from harmful screen reflection’’, in particular.
We understand the irony of writing that whilst you read the words on a screen, but anyway…
BRING A BOOK
Speaking of reading, it’s one of the most relaxing things you can do. According to a study by the University of Sussex, reading – an actual book, on a paper page – can reduce stress by up to 68%. Moreover, it can relax your body physically by lowering your heart rate and easing muscle tension.
Holiday reading, however, should generally be loose and gentle, so choose something uplifting and inspiring or read about an activity you love, like travel or cooking.
REDUCE THE USE OF TECH
Relaxing is difficult in our digital world, and sometimes a holiday loses a fair amount of its purpose if it’s simply spent staring at the same old device as you would be on your sofa, at home.
In the modern age, going anywhere without a phone is probably not the best idea; emergencies do happen, after all. However, if you do want to switch off and not be bothered by work emails while you are away, try to reduce the amount of tech you take with you on holiday. Instead of scrolling through social media, take a walk along the beach or pick up a good book and escape into some captivating literature. You’ll likely come home significantly more refreshed.
FORGET THE ITINERARY
While, of course, you will have to stick to your train timetables, ticket times and so on, once you arrive at your destination, take your holiday one day at a time, free from a schedule designed with military precision in mind. There might be things you would like to see and do while you are away, but rather than committing certain days to these things, just see how you feel when you wake up. Perhaps you would rather lounge by the pool all afternoon? We feel relaxed just writing that.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
A staycation is a good time to catch up on your sleep debt; as such, don’t feel guilty about having a lie in. Use this time to enjoy some holiday workouts, embrace some yoga or meditation – exercise is fantastic for treating stress and anxiety.
While holidays are also about indulging and enjoying, ask if you really need that extra bottle of wine with dinner – will the hangover be worth it? Doing nothing for an entire day, eating twice as much food as you would usually and consuming loads of booze is a guaranteed way to have you feeling wobbly by the time you go home. A holiday spent overindulging every single day will leave you feeling ragged rather than refreshed at the end of it.
GO WITH THE RIGHT PERSON
Don’t get us wrong, we love our fun friends who are loud, vivacious and usually the centre of attention. However, they are probably not the best people to go on a relaxing holiday with.
Though it should go without saying, if you are going on holiday with someone else make sure they are not going to get on your nerves. Being in close quarters with somebody can occasionally lead to tensions, so if you plan to go away with a friend or relative, make sure you know that you are both compatible enough to spend all of the time together and that you both want the same things out of your holiday.
CONSIDER THE TIME OF YEAR & TRANSPORT
According to a recent survey by icarhireinsurance.com, one of the most stressful parts of a holiday in the UK is the getting there. Travelling by coach or bus was identified as the most stressful mode of transport, with driving to your destinations the lowest.
That said, anyone trying to travel on a Bank Holiday will know the stress of the long weekends rush of traffic, when millions of drivers take to the roads. And what about the stress of breakdowns and getting lost? Luckily, with a little forward planning there are ways to minimise the pain of travelling by car, simply by planning your route, your time of travel, and avoiding the busiest roads where possible.
Generally speaking, travelling during the Summer and Easter holidays are also considered a stressful time to travel. Off-peak times, in Spring and Autumn, are less likely to cause tension.
SAVE MONEY WITH SOME USEFUL HACKS
Sometimes we can’t enjoy a holiday because we’re thinking too much about our budget and how much we’re spending, which causes an unwelcome distraction to what was meant to be a relaxing time. Not to worry; here are some UK staycation tips; our 5 ways to save money on UK travel.
We’ve also written an article on how to save money on a UK staycation which includes prioritising self-catering accommodation to save money on meals and joining the National Trust, as being a card-carrying member offers loads of benefits that will help you enjoy a cheaper break. Check it out here.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT LOCATION
‘Relaxing’ means different things to different people, and ‘one person’s stress is another’s bliss’, as no one says, but should.
Anyway, choose your location with relaxation in mind. If you love to cook, consider a self catering staycation. More of a country bumpkin? Then check out our article on luxury rural hotel rental holiday rentals in the UK or these 5 remote, rural UK staycations. Or perhaps your idea of relaxing is renting a caravan and enjoying the freedom of the great open road, in which case our article on the UK’s most popular holiday destinations for motorhome owners is worth a read.