Having a cheap holiday at home may not sound a lot of fun. If you are trying to blitz down your debts (is that one of your New Year resolutions?) it can be a huge gain. If your credit card is maxed out you may not have an option – but you can make a deliberate decision about what you do instead.
By “at home” here, I mean in your own home! Not what the newspapers have taking to calling a “staycation”, which is just going on holiday somewhere in Britain. That can be fun but it’s not necessarily cheaper than going on a package trip to Europe.
UPDATE – in mid 2020 most foreign travel is not possible, it’s hard to get a rented cottage in this country and a lot of day trips won’t work as the attractions are closed or the Covid-19 adaptations make them look a lot less fun. Let’s hope 2021 is different! But some of the points here may give you ideas for getting through 2020 when we all need a change from our own four walls.
I asked some friends when they had done this and what they did, there were a wide variety of suggestions:
Explore your own country
- “Join the Ramblers Association! In my area there are walks several days a week within an easy drive. It’s a complete break from my office job and it suits me as I’m single but I don’t like single’s holidays.”
- “One Sunday when the car was being repaired and we wanted a day out we took the Thames Clipper to the O2 and walked back on the Thames path to Greenwich market. It was a Sunday and everyone else on the boat was a tourist. We’ve decided to spend a week at home this year and do more stuff like this!”
- “Both sets of parents like to see the grandchildren and we are too far away for day visits, so every year we stay with my parents for a long weekend then move to the in-laws for another 4 days. They think up outings for the kids so we don’t have to plan anything and we get a couple of nights out with free babysitting. Cost is petrol and a couple of dinners.”
- “My kids love the adventure playground in a local National Trust house – it’s worth the expensive membership just for that!” Think how much you will use annual tickets and look out for cheap offers that may work for you, eg Membership Offers & Cheapest Way to Join National Trust.
- “Last year we looked after a friend’s two dogs for a fortnight. We can’t have dogs because I work full-time so my kids (eight and six) thought it was the best holiday ever! For me, just not having to get everyone up, organised and out of the house in the mornings was great. Husband went out for a few long bike rides and spent most of the rest of the time happily fiddling with his bike. We are doing it again this summer.”
Improve the house
- “We were desperate to get the new flat redecorated and very short of money. So we took two weeks off and got stuck in. We got rid of grotty carpets, hired a sander and varnished the floorboards. Then we painted the bedroom and the hall. It was knackering, but we stopped dead on 6 o’clock every evening and escaped to see friends or just have a drink in the pub and get away from the paint smell. We ended up very proud and the only thing we had argued about was putting together the IKEA wardrobe.”
- “When I split with my ex, I wanted to change things in the house but had little money. I did Fly Lady decluttering and spring cleaning for a couple of hours every morning and in the afternoons stripped and painted a chest of drawers and a coffee table I got from Freecycle. I had planned on aerobics or swimming in the evenings but I was too tired!”
Time for hobbies
- “We never seem to find time to do crosswords anymore and we both have piles of books unread, so this summer we are going to stay at home, switch off the wi-fi during the day and see how it goes…”
- “I like watching test matches on TV and my partner loves gardening. So we take a few days off to coincide with the cricket and go out for some nice meals in the evening.”
- “You can get a reasonable bridge camera for £100 on eBay, so this year I’m getting one of those and spending a week off learning to use it instead of going away. I can’t wait!”
- “The first year after each of our children was born we were too broke and too exhausted to think about travelling. So each time I took two weeks off in the summer and took over most of the baby care. It was a special time for me and my partner loved being able to have long baths and go get her hair cut. We had the odd coffee out but it cost us almost nothing.”
- “Last year I told my work I was going to a cottage in Devon and the website said there was poor mobile reception so there was no point in calling me. But I stayed at home, switched the work mobile off and only checked my emails once in the middle of the week. I spent every night gaming, got up late and had a fry up for brunch every morning. Generally I slobbed out like a student!”
Lots of people mentioned the big plus points of sleeping in your own comfortable bed and not going near an airport. Do any of these ideas appeal to you?