Yeah, a little late in the game.’ she says.
‘What do you mean?’ she says.
‘This Staycation thing … ‘ she says.
It’s true, whilst I was still locked down in limbo city, others were quicker off the mark, getting the little Staycation sorted before the rest of us woke up and smelt the whiff of not being able to find a bed at any Inn.
Yet, it remains an interesting topic. My generation, back in the day, meant nearly every holiday was right in our own back yard. If it was summer, the pool, your bike and friends were all you needed. Remember? The best part of it was not having to go to school. If it was winter, you twiddled our thumbs. The best part was not having to go to school. That was everything your vacation meant. Summer and out came the sunflower oil in lieu of sunscreen, the bikinis, lilos and the beach towel you got for Christmas. LP’s that melted in the shade under the tree and if it was a real good day, Mom would let you share some Coca Cola. Throw in the bonus of going to a movie, or the drive in and heaven was besties and a midnight feast. In winter, we wandered from friends’ houses to friends’ houses, and twiddled our thumbs while we cried to the soundtrack of ‘Love Story.’
The REAL vacation, if all was in favour with the gods, was an annual trip to the beach. For us it was Durban. Oh, the excitement, the packing and knowing you had to leave at six am in the station wagon for a six hour trip. Being able to go back to sleep for the first part, still in your pyjamas, wedged somewhere between the teenage sister and Ouma. Halfway stop at ‘Windy Corner’ to turn a brighter shade of green (competing with the car sickness) when that Tupperware lid was hoisted with flourish and the scent of soggy Tomatoes hit you in the face. We shall not talk of the egg between bread.
‘Can you see the sea’ game overtook ‘I spy’ for waning interest in windmills and wheat fields and then, for glory, a week of sand and melting ice-creams. Etched memories of which I swear I can remember every, single one.
I could write for hours on our beach holidays. Let’s just say there was a trampoline and that was luxury personified.
Raising my own children, rather privileged in many ways, the trend was for friends to ‘go skiing.’ Young ones flown to foreign slopes on an annual holiday. We came to London many times. Exchange students we hosted spoke of visiting … what was it, twenty odd countries … they were fourteen at the time, and what was once a privilege for few became accessible for many to simply plan holidays outside of our own borders. The closing of them during COVID has swung the Staycation straight back into play. Not only are we unable to fly to most foreign countries at present, but money is tight, budgets being cut, re-thinking being done. Long haul holidays to foreign beaches are being replaced by a tripple to the local bay and it is a good thing, and we need to support our local tourist spots, now more than ever.
The tourism industry is in dire straits, as if the house has been closed and the covers thrown over the furniture. When shall she awake from the slumber? When will the guests return? They are. Rather than head for the airport, we are flocking to beaches, valleys and hamlets to re-discover our own little worlds, we have not really given too much credit for, and once smiled at whilst tourists take pictures of rosy hedges and ha ha’s outside the manor. The flux of foreign to domestic travel is positive and just – back to the closer, the intimate, the good old family holiday.
But I say that holding the double edged sword. Being in the industry I also know that it is inbound travel that accounts for one of the highest income sources in our economy. We need inbound travel. These are the clients that flock to the Private Game Reserves, the top hotels, the famous restaurants. Travellers who partake of local attractions, spend vast amounts of money in our shops, on indigenous products and cultural activities. Who hire cars, concierges, partake of tours. We need them to survive, just as much as we need to re-discover our own back-door destinations. The ability to travel and flavour the world must be fostered – we grow that way.
Everyone seems to be scrambling to find anywhere left to visit for the holidays in England. Others fear to leave the borders as the quarentine game lobs from border to bored and uncertainty scares the bravest of souls. In South Africa, domestic and foreign borders remain closed, with devastating effect.
Back then I was happiest with my hot pants, a spin on the dodgems, going to the Sharks Board and making new ‘holiday friends.’ As an adult I want the option to travel wherever I choose, to expose my children to different countries and cultures. This sister of all sinister sicknesses has brought both front and centre – staycation is making a comeback. But not at the risk of travelling abroad, for they need us desperately to survive.
Perhaps the new norm should be a question of balance. A little of both. A concerted effort to not only support your local tourism industry, but save enough to have that gorgeous, exotic foreign holiday once, or twice a year. That way, we all win.
Images: The Guardian, Revenue -hub