To be honest I never really realised just how close I lived to the Cotswolds. To drive to this gloriously green and rural part of England with the girlfriend navigating would take me no longer than it would normally take me to get the train into central London – around 90 minutes.
Having just spent a couple of nights in Hotels whilst exploring the Ring of Kerry over in Ireland, I decided to change things up a bit and sort out an Airbnb room for my short stay in the Cotswolds. I thought that staying right in the heart of the region, away from any hustle and bustle, and try emerge myself in village life, away from all the every day noises and stresses that come with living in a busy city such as London.
In short my plan worked. Our beautiful annex was located 30 minutes drive from any kind of town or village, and as a result the lack of noise was at first almost deafening, but once used to it, it became bliss like. We stoked the wood burner, exchanged our smart phones for books and indulged in a bought of serious relaxation. Come the evening, we were even able to stars shimming overhead through our skylight.
Of course we didn’t spend every minute of our time in the Cotwolds lock away with our heads nestled in books, we did get out and explore the area too … at points getting hopelessly lost in the process.
As the photos below will attest to, we ate our own body weight in traditional type comfort foods. We visiting pubs and breweries which served locally brewed ales. We took a trip to the Cotswolds Wildlife Park and watched a month old rhino go tearing around it’s enclosure in a moment of epic cuteness. Lastly we visited famed tourist hotspot Bourton On the Water, and ate (yes more eating) unhealthy quantities of jam and butter laden scones. NOM!
The Pro’s and Con’s of a Staycation
Like anything I guess, there are pro’s and con’s to a staycation. Some of these I knew full well before setting out down the A40 from West London, but some of them only dawned on me during the trip itself.
Here’s a list of what I consider to be some of the main pro’s and con’s of a staycation.
Travel in your own time
No need for Passports (or no worries about forgetting them)
No language barrier
No issues around currency
You already understand cultural and social etiquette
Lack of new cultural experiences
No benefit of £GBP currency strength
More responsibility (i.e. no travel agent)
Pro’s as you can see centre around time, and the lack of time being eaten up in airports. Although it can take little more than an hour to fly to some parts of Europe, once you’ve factor in the time required to get to the airport, to check-in and make it through security and then transfer once landed (not forgetting any delays to your flight), you’re still looking at roughly 3-4 hours of travel time. Door to door my drive to the Cotwolds took 90 minutes, and I could take as much or as little luggage as I liked, and leave when I liked. In short, there were fewer restrictions.
Con’s wise, we thought the weather would be the main issue, but the sun actually came out to play from time to time. The main con was that, whilst the Cotswold’s are undoubtedly beautiful, I know England, and I knew what I was likely to find. New cultural experiences and surprises were at a premium. Sure there were some moments which bought back fond memories from my childhood holidays with family, but there were few moments which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – the baby rhino aside of course.
I’m unsure if the cost of a staycation falls into a pro or con. I guess it depends on what foreign destination you compare it to and the type of travel you tend to indulge in. Looking at it in a very simple way, petrol for our trip to and from the Cotswolds cost around £50, and I doubt I can get many flights for 2 people for that amount. But on the flip side, I did not benefit from the strength of the £GBP while away, whereas if I had travelled to say the Balkans, my meals and accommodation would have worked out to be a lot cheaper than those in the Cotswolds. Whether a staycation is cost effective vs a trip abroad is something you’ll have to work out for yourself I’m afraid.
So would I undertake another staycation?
In all honesty, yes I think I would.
Having now visit the Cotswolds, and not long ago driven to Abersoch in Wales for a few nights, I am starting to see more and more the benefits of travelling locally … or within the UK at least.
Granted the sun did not always shine in either Wales nor the Cotswolds, there were downpours in each location, new experiences around other cultures were thin on the ground too, but I can honestly say that a fab time was still had on each occasion.
Speaking on the way home from the Cotswolds with my good lady, we both agreed that the not having to deal with strict timings, luggage restrictions, transfers etc made for a lovely change. It was nice to go out at own pace and do things exactly as we wanted to. We found ourselves in less of a rush and as a result found it easier to wind down and relax. Normally it takes me a good couple of days to let thoughts of work and rent leave my warped mind, but surprisingly even with being closer to home, I was able to unravel my thoughts quicker as a result of not being jet-lagged.
Where exactly my next staycation will take me I do not know (maybe back to Abersoch, and maybe the Lake District), and it won’t be happening any time soon (annual leave restrictions), but it will definitely happen. Watch this space!
The boss/girlfriend and I travelled to the Cotswolds in cololaboration with RAC, and in order contribute to an ebook being created by RAC Breakdown Cover which aims to find UK travellers some of the best areas to visit on a road trip within their own area.
For more staycation stories, check out the hashtag #RACStaycation on twitter.