The summer holidays are here but with the national and global picture still uncertain and countries moving into and out of isolation and quarantine, many of us just don’t want to chance a trip abroad.
Therefore, here are some great alternative solutions for holidaying and celebrating closer to home.
Hotels and hostels
Hotels and hostels across the UK are now permitted to open with a few additional safety measures. These are mostly common sense changes though, and shouldn’t discourage families looking to take a trip away.
They may include:
- Screens on receptions or telephone check-ins
- Measures to encourage the use of stairs rather than lifts
- Changes to room service – such as dropping food outside the door
- The wearing of face coverings in communal corridors
- Reduced or altered bar or restaurant provision (this will mostly follow the guidance in place for the pub and restaurant sector in general)
Hostels will mostly operate just like hotels. However hostels’ focus on communal facilities and sleeping areas means that there are likely to be significant limitations on the use of washing facilities, and reduced capacity at these venues to ensure they remain compliant.
Campsites are now permitted to open across the whole of the UK.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all campsites are open, as ultimately the decision is up to the site owners themselves. There is also the possibility that sites may have to close due to local flare-ups. For this reason, you should check the terms and conditions of the site or website you book with. Try and ensure that you don’t pay more than your deposit if you can’t visit for any reason – including if you become sick.
The good news is that many hosts are aware of customer’s concerns, and have put additional guarantees in place. You’ll probably find that not too much has changed – you may have to check in via telephone and there may be controls on the number of people who can use toilets or shower blocks at one time, but otherwise your experience will probably remain similar to before lockdown.
Is camping safe?
Sadly no activity involving you leaving your home can be considered 100% safe at present. However, the general scientific consensus so far is that the risk of transmission outdoors is low so camping is as good a suggestion as any. That said, campsites in the UK are only allowed to reopen if they comply with the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines Government.
Campsite owners are likely to be aware that visitors will be worried, so there is no harm in asking them beforehand what they’re doing to manage risk.
Camping with another household
At the time of writing guidance states that two households can meet in pretty much any location, as long as they continue to socially distance, so group bookings are possible. You can meet outdoors in groups of up six people from different households, so groups of friends could book at the same campsite with the aim of meeting up across a weekend. But this should not be used as a means of “getting away with it” and the same care and considerations should be used as you would at home (the page linked above gives you further guidance regarding how to stay safe). Guidelines are likely to change as the regional and local situations develop so do keep an eye on this.
“There is currently a 50% discount on food purchased to be eaten on the premises of restaurants across the UK.”
Or take a really, really short camping trip
At the beginning of isolation, we wrote about parent Matt, who took his tent and his children out into the back garden. This remains a fine option for parents with imaginative children. Just remember to make the most of the novelty – pack binoculars for stargazing and marshmallows for toasting (a portable gas camping stove can take the danger out of doing so). Here’s a pro tip too – you can always take a tablet or laptop outdoors to watch some TV after the kids fall asleep. If you’re still there in the morning they’ll be none the wiser – we won’t tell!
Take advantage of the discount on eating out
There is currently a 50 per cent discount on food purchased to be eaten on the premises of restaurants across the UK, called “Eat Out to Help Out”. This is a huge saving on food- so much so that you might be able to visit a fancy restaurant you’ve never been to before! Just make sure you check the restaurant you fancy is taking part. For more information on the scheme and for a handy restaurant finder visit the Government website here.
Take in a movie
Cinemas re-open from the 31st July and, at this point, the sheer novelty means whatever you see is likely to feel like a summer smash! Obviously, cinemas are not compelled to open and many – particularly independent cinemas may struggle to feel like they can do so safely, but there is another option. Thanks to COVID, drive-through cinemas have seen a revival of their fortunes not seen since 1950s America (and never really seen in the UK) and a quick google search should identify any options near you. If nothing else the novelty should give you a date night to remember!
City breaks with added culture
The reduced risks associated with outdoor activities means that some activities, such as walking tours, have been able to continue with little change throughout isolation. We all hope that in the years to come things will return to normal so why not “lean into” the
changes Covid-19 has made necessary and use this year to catch up on a bit of history or culture?
For example, many people might not know that Dracula author Bram Stoker wrote much of his famous mythical tale in Whitby, and also set key scenes from the novel in the seaside town. If you’re a fan of literature this might add a bit of spice to a holiday location that you might have thought…ahem, “boring”!
This is far from the only such location in the UK though – with Shakespeare, for example, finding his spiritual home in Stratford (coincidentally Shakespeare’s birthplace opened its doors again on August 1st).
Staying at home this summer
Of course, not everyone can afford a trip away and it might also be impractical for some families who are shielding or need to be available for vulnerable relatives, for instance.
Remember the phrase “a change is as good as a holiday” – anything out of the ordinary will be memorable for your children (and you). For example you can:
- Make your own home-made Ice Lollies.
- Have a BBQ midweek (especially on a rainy day) or a cooked breakfast or cereal for dinner. Having your dinner at breakfast probably isn’t practical… But it will definitely be memorable if you do it!
- Get out the sprinkler or hose and play water games in the garden – try creating a water bridge for children to run under, or just chase them around the garden.
- Invite your children’s friends for a play down the park – remember that you can now meet with up to six people from different households in an outdoor space (at the time of writing).
- Buy a slime kit and give your kids a slime bath (just remember that slime can be very slippy, so don’t leave them unattended).
- Have a PJ day where you don’t get dressed for the whole day… bonus points if you have to pick up something from the shops!
If you’re feeling in need of some support or guidance during the summer get in touch with our FamilyLine helpline for free.