In the past, Brits have famously headed for locations like Mallorca, the Algarve or Benidorm for their summer jollies – no doubt in an effort to soak up a year’s worth of sun in one week! Yet recently studies have begun to show a change of attitude, with more and more Britons foregoing foreign destinations in favour of more local trips. This article will examine this trend, to establish whether Cornwall really is the new Crete.
Whispers surrounding the growing popularity of the staycation have abounded ever since the Brexit vote in 2016, yet enough time has now passed to allow this speculation to turn to plausible theory as more and more data is released to back it up. A leader in this field is the annual study released by the accommodation provider Travelodge. This year they found that the number of British people opting to stay at home for their main holiday has increased by 2% since the 2017 study – now standing at 57% (well over half!).
In line with these findings, peer-to-peer rental platform, Fat Lama, has found that the number of campervan rentals on their platform has more than doubled in the past year (rising from 2.45% to 5.74% of their GMV). If this is not enough to convince you that staycations are now ‘trending’ so to speak, the Caravanning and Camping Club have reported a 10% increase in UK campsite bookings this year. Clearly, staycations (and campervan trips) are on the rise across the board, begging the question of what has prompted this new trend?
What’s all the hype about!? 🌍
No doubt people have a wealth of personal reasons for opting to stay on their home turf this year, yet such a universal increase in popularity suggests that some broader factors must be at work as well.
Since this trend has been gaining momentum since 2016, the obvious catalyst for change has to be the Brexit vote. This is not just a case of jumping on the ‘Brexit bandwagon’ (blaming it for everything from the struggling economy to your most recent breakup) – there is actually significant evidence to back it up.
There is no doubt that the sudden drop in the value of the pound in 2016 corresponded to the Brexit vote, and this has had a huge impact on the British tourist scene. Firstly, Brits are the only ones holidaying here – VisitBritain has reported an increase of foreign visitors by 6.2% in 2017, set to rise by a further 4.4% this year.
Since Britain’s ancient charms aren’t going anywhere soon (hopefully), it would not be unreasonable to assume that this influx is due to the weakening pound making it better value than ever before to visit the UK.
Yet, the British tourist scene is clearly benefiting from the patronage of its natives as well. Once again, it appears to owe its thanks to Brexit (one of the very few who do) for bringing in the extra trade, as the falling pound has not just made UK holidays a financially good option for foreign visitors.
Anxiety about the exchange rate has tipped the balance for many people when deciding where to book this year, one such candidate is Becky a 22-year-old who, despite being a keen traveller, is opting to take a campervan around Scotland this year. After landing in Peru on the day of the Brexit result and consequently burning through her money far faster than she anticipated, Becky has chosen to explore the UK this year as a safer financial option.
It seems that stories like Becky’s are not atypical to a post-Brexit world. until the split actually comes, the uncertainty of foreign travel is not a risk worth taking for people on tight budgets.
So, it seems that Brexit has landed most of us fairly and squarely on British shores this summer (the irony of this is not lost on me). It’s now up to the rest of this article to advise you how to spend it. One form of travel that I believe lends itself especially well to UK travel is hitting the road in a campervan.
Why I’m sold on traveling on wheels 🚐
The rise in popularity in staycations does not necessarily prompt a corresponding rise in campervan rentals, yet from what we have seen from both Fat Lama data and the Caravanning and Camping Club, the popularity of camping is certainly on the up.
Perhaps, this is because the freedom to travel the road is very much ‘on brand’ with the average avocado-munching, penniless millennial who would rather invest in an experience than material goods. Or, perhaps it’s simply because us Brits have always loved a good bargain! Either way, here are my top reasons for taking on the camper this year:
Birkenstocks c/o Footway
1. Access To Nature
Britain has some famously beautiful countryside whether it’s the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, the craggy tops of the Scottish Highlands or the stunning coastline of Cornwall – what better way to access it than on your own four wheels and agenda. If its remoteness you seek, then a campervan gives you the freedom to move away from the tourist train that depends on hostels and hotels, and find some of the true treasures all of your own.
2. Freedom to Move
Though Britain has arguably got some of the most beautiful countryside around, it does have one problem… the weather. British summers are famously unpredictable, and the last thing you want to do is be stuck in a rainy resort for your summer break. This is where the camper comes into its own – you are not rooted to your accommodation. If the resort or the weather doesn’t suit you, move on to sunnier climes. Weather aside, the freedom to make your own way, stop when you want and move when you don’t is fantastically liberating.
You’re also not burdened or restricted by carrying heavy bags around with you all the time 👇
3. Your money goes further
If freedom and the open road are not enough to tempt you away from your hotel, perhaps the low price of a camper trip will. Whether you own your own camper or rent one for a one off trip, campers are almost always the best value option – especially when you factor in that you have covered transport and accommodation in one fell swoop.
4. Food and Comfort On The Road
This final point ties nicely in with my last one, if you carry everything with you including your kitchen, you can save a ton of money by avoiding eating out. If you are doing long distance travel this can be far better for your health too. After all, if you have your own food source, you do not need to rely on fast food chains and convenience stores that dominant roadside services as much (though I won’t judge you for the occasional roadside chippy). Lastly, rather than all squishing into a car or a Ryanair flight, camper travel gives you space to relax on the road and even take a nap if necessary (though hopefully not whilst actually driving).
Where to start your adventure?
So with the trend and the reasoning established one question remains, where are the top spots favoured by staycationers this year? If you are thinking of joining the trend, here are my top 5 recommendations for UK travel:
As one of the largest counties in England, Devon has a lot to offer someone with the freedom and ability to explore it. If you have access to a campervan you could spend days traversing the country and still find things beautiful spots that will make you want to instantly pull over. Crossing the Dartmoor you can come across remote regions like Bellever forest or even encounter a herd of wild ponies. If you are a surf seeker you will not be disappointed either, with the (almost laughable quaint sounding) beaches of Bigbury-on-Sea, Westward Ho! and Saunton Sands all firm favourites with borders and sun bathers alike!
An immovable favourite with British holiday makers, Cornwall’s spectacular coast, quaint villages and wild moors have attracted visitors for centuries, inspiring many a ripping yarn (if you’re a Poldark or Daphne Du Maurier fan you will know what I mean). Camper travel in Cornwall is not only achievable, it’s actually desirable as the peninsular remains surprisingly difficult to access by public transport and accommodation can be some of the most expensive in Britain in peak times. Read about our here trips here.
If you fancy something more relaxed than the ragged extremes of the Cornish moors, Lake District or Scottish Highlands, why not try the creamy stoned villages and rolling hills of the Cotswolds – the epitome of gentle English countryside. The accessibility of this area from London means that it’s often crammed in the weekends thorough summer with city dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle (and inadvertently creating a new one in their mass exodus). Exploring the area by camper will allow you to get off the usual tourist trails and discover hidden delights like Great Tew, The Slaughters (not as grim as it sounds) and the Rollright Stones.
Wild, untamed and hauntingly beautiful the Scottish Highlands attract many visitors from Britain and further afield every year. The sheer remoteness of the highlands and islands makes travel without a car almost impossible and therefore travel with a camper absolutely ideal. My advice is to take your time and explore some of the lesser known destinations – I can assure you Scotland has plenty more castles than just Eilean Donan! Venture west on the ferry and explore some of the best beaches in Britain or aim high and conquer the Cairngorms. You’ll find it’s not for nothing that Scotland has been voted the most beautiful country in the world last year.
The Lake District
I have often thought that the Lake District is a slightly misleading title for the area. Yes, there are plenty of lakes, but far more noticeable than that are the stunning mountains that rise up from nowhere and then drop dramatically into huge pools of water – in a way that you do not tend to outside the Scottish Highlands.
It is certainly a well-appreciated geographical treasure, with its famous dales immortalised in the writings of William Wordsworth and preserved by the will of Beatrix Potter (she left all her land there to the National Trust, thus preserving it for the enjoyment of future generations like yourselves). Exploring the area by camper will allow you to access the remoter dales and explore the area on your own terms away from the expensive accommodation in walking hotspots like Keswick, Kendall and Glenridding.
Though it’s easy to see the jest in Brexit preventing Britons from going abroad, the point of this article is a serious one. It’s easy to hanker after the beaches of Mediterranean or cities of Europe, without appreciating the beauty that sits on your own doorstep. So if you are feeling a bit financially pinched this year, be grateful that you’re staying at home. By embracing the open road and making your own way, you just might have one of your most memorable holidays to date.