Staycation is a great word. It’s clearly a compound of stay and vacation and, as such, one of the many Americanisms we have adopted. So being conscious of that, last week it felt a little odd telling my Yorkshire friends I was having a staycation in Whitby.
Across the Atlantic staycation means actually staying in your home and taking day trips. The idea is you eat out every night, just like you’re on vacation, and spend the odd day just lazing by the back yard pool as though you’re at a beach resort. Here, though, besides the obvious lack of domestic swimming pools for most of us, I have always taken the word to be a fancy colour supplement way of saying you’re not going abroad. “We’re having a staycation this year,” can be used to cover up the fact that money’s a bit tight and camping at Rhyl is as much as you can afford, but it suggests holidaying elsewhere in the UK rather than staying in your own home.
If you want to sound like you’re making a political point you can explain your staycation choice by taking a swipe at Brexit voters for the deteriorating GBP-euro exchange rate, reminding people that sterling now trades around €1.10 to £1 while the day before we voted to quit the EU last year it was €1.31.
Some people might adopt the American definition and use their staycation to have days out at all those Albert Docks, Saltaires and Yorkshire Sculpture Parks they never got round to visiting. If they want to sound virtuous they could say that this year they’re supporting our domestic tourism industry. If I were to follow the American example I could pretend I’m in sunny Spain by eating out at a different tapas bar every night. There are plenty to choose from in Leeds, Ilkley, Skipton, Shipley and Harrogate. Or I could pretend I’ve flown to Dalaman and ring the changes at the increasing number of great Turkish restaurants within a 100-mile radius.
Certainly, the older I get the less I enjoy the foreign travel experience, which begins with the taxi or train ride to the airport, followed by the dehumanising passage through check-in and security before flying goat-class in narrow seats, then being herded into a coach for transfer to a tiny hotel room with a shower not big enough for swinging mice.
Maybe Brexit will see a lot more of us staycationing, since many financial analysts expect sterling to fall yet further against the euro and next year the currencies may reach parity. In which case perhaps something good will come from Brexit – a revival of our holiday resorts. Places like Morecambe in Lancashire and Withernsea in East Yorkshire have got used to stories about the tide of tourists going out and not coming back in again. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a new golden age of the British seaside?
If that happens, I think we need a more home-grown word for staycation, one that’s in keeping with the Little Englander mentality that’s taking us out of Europe. How about stay-putting. No, maybe not. It turns out we’re not a nation of stay-putters. If we were we wouldn’t be shuffling towards the European exit door.