Cancelled holidays are just one of the new norms created by the coronavirus pandemic. Dreams of trips to golden sandy beaches, ancient ruins or to reconnect with friends and family became just that, dreams. Like many others, I fell victim to rebooking holidays, only then for the dreaded quarantine to be imposed meaning my longing for some summer sun quite literally flew away without me.
Determined that I was not going to let summer pass me by without escaping from the same four walls that had confined me for too many months, I was left with one last option, a staycation! This might sound like a straightforward decision given the *unprecedented* situation that has kept most of us grounded on UK soil, however upon researching UK destinations, I was quickly overwhelmed with a number of amazing places spread all over the country. Yet more importantly, the question of any potential risks due to constantly changing restrictions loomed.
With many weeks of deliberation and researching late into the night, a plan was finally hatched to road trip from my hometown of Wigan to the south to visit some historic and cultural cities as well as the UK’s famous southern beaches, which would be the closest I would get to a European beach holiday!
A road trip seemed like the most sensible option to minimise mixing with other people and I was fortunate enough to have my boyfriend drive the entire 1,000 mile round trip which meant I was in charge of the music, snacks and taking Insta-worthy pictures.
Our first stop was Oxford, yet I was a little apprehensive about entering a potentially densely-populated area with many major tourist attractions such as the historic University. However, much to our surprise, the city was quiet, meaning we could take in the culture and sights at our leisure with no queues or crowds.
Being a geographer I had always wanted to visit Durdle Door in Dorset due to the remarkable landscape it boasts. However, it seemed everybody had the same idea to spend time on the southern coast as hordes of people covered the beaches and filled every car park. Naturally, I was overwhelmed at the amount of people around us, yet as we had travelled so far, I knew I still had to experience the sights! Thankfully, due to our intensive planning and detailed itinerary, I had pre-booked the car-park, allowing us to get closer to the beach and away from the crowds who flooded the narrow country lanes heading down to the beach. We were lucky enough to find a more secluded spot along the coastline away from others, allowing me to get some snaps of the stunning coastal features.
The next stop on our southern road trip was Cornwall, where again every town we passed through was heaving with multitudes of tourists who had all been no doubt drawn to the quaint and picturesque seaside towns and beautiful beaches just as we had been. The small streets and large crowds were something I had not experienced in a long time, so we always wore our masks whilst adhering adamantly to the ‘hands, face, space’ routine that has now become second nature! However these rules which now feel almost normal didn’t stop us enjoying the Cornish sun, and so like every other tourist we made the most of swimming in the sparkling sea, long walks along rugged parts of the coast and of course, a couple of Cornish pasties. My travels this summer, although not quite the trip abroad I’d been longing for really allowed me to appreciate the simply joys of holidaying at home and making the most of the cities and landscapes we have on home soil. Until the time when we can safely travel abroad once more, I’m grateful just for the chance to regain some sense of normality and perspective from travelling further than just my local town.
Image: Annie Park