Big question – Is it selfish to go on holiday abroad during the Covid Pandemic?
Between the 1950s and the 1970s Britains favourite holiday destination was Britain. The West Country was heaving with people, not only from the UK but, from all over the world. The area of Torbay was known as ‘The English Riviera’. B&Bs, hotels, caravan parks and campsites were bursting at the seams. Then came cheap air travel and cheaper holidays in poorer countries such as Spain and Greece. With the marketing for cheap flights to cheap hotels and guaranteed sunshine in Spain, “I’m off to sunny Spain” they all sang, the bottom started to fall out of the British holiday market. Could this be the time for the British holiday to come back?
When all that there was, was staycations the road systems in the UK were so bad that to get to Devon from London took long over eight hours. It was easier to set out at 11pm the night before, drive overnight, and arrive for breakfast in a cafe the next morning. Most people would get the train, it was easier and often quicker. Actually, not so many people owned a car then. The railways ran a service where the would collect your luggage from your home. Your luggage would then be sent down to your destination a few days before you left. It would be there waiting for you at your hotel when you arrived. At the end of the holiday the reverse happened and your luggage arrived at your home a few days after your return.
The Council Estates would empty out onto the holiday trains going to Kent, Norfolk, Devon, Cornwall and so on. Train seats would be booked in advance. The best were with a table, where we could sit as a family, play games and watch the countryside rush by the window. It felt like such a big occasion, a real adventure. These days it seems that we do not feel that we have had a holiday unless we have been abroad which usually means taking a plane.
I have only recently really realised the cost to the environment of air travel. The carbon footprint of a long hall holiday, especially in a jumbo jet, would require you to plant seven trees to compensate for it. Considering that I was flying to the Middle East for one week every month I owe the planet a Forrest!
The Real Staycation
The real staycation meant staying at home for the six weeks of the summer holiday. Some of us on the Council Estate could not always afford a holiday even in the UK. There was that embarrassing moment in September when we returned to school and the first thing we were asked to do was write an essay “What we did on our summer holiday”. We overcame the problem by describing what we had as “days out”. Then followed a fictitious account of what would have happened if we had been able to afford to got to the zoo, the Natural History Museum and so on. When we had to read these out to the class those that enjoyed endless trips to the seaside would look sadly at us describing our ‘days out’, we all knew that we hadn’t been anywhere.
There was a time when people worked seven days a week and the only time that they had off were the ‘Holy Days’ of the religious calendar. Eventually Holy Days turned into Holidays and the Holiday industry began. As the train network developed people went to Spa towns to ‘take the water’. In the south Brighton and Blackpool in the north became holiday destinations of choice. Gradually people by the sea or by lakes realised the sales potential of holidays for workers from the factories and the Bed and Breakfast industry was born. Then came the Hotels with star ratings, started by the AA, from two stars to five. Then came the package holiday and the trips abroad.
Is it selfish to holiday abroad at the moment?
We have just witnessed the holiday makers who rushed to Spain as soon as the lockdown was eased, only to find that they were in another wave of infections leading to their return flights being postponed. Holidays cut short and potential for ten days of isolation on their return as they could be bringing the Covid infection back with them and become infection spreaders. Is it too early to return to holidays until we know that the infection has passed? Is it selfish to go abroad on holiday? Should we be deciding to settle for a real staycation?
Holidays in the Uk make sense to me provided that we take sensible precautions and attend to sanitisation. Not travelling too far would make sense for two reasons. One limiting the spread to areas that have been low risk and reducing our carbon foot print.
The ultimate staycation
Many of us, during lockdown, have been having the ultimate staycation. This has been good for some and a horror for others. How did you get on? The are also many people who either from choice or anxiety will remain in a shielded lockdown for weeks or months to come. Some people have told me that they will not be leaving their home until the New Year. Others have developed agoraphobia and fear leaving their home due to the infection. Some have said that will not go out again until a vaccine is in place. That would probably mean that some people will end up being in ultimate staycation for over twelve months.
One thing that I am hearing about is the redevelopment of community. Groups of people, neighbours, family and friends gathering in small community groups for a picnic, bring your own food, and a chat. Some have been so successful that they are becoming weekly events. People are helping each other out from going to the shops to offering technical support, baking treats and delivering them to friends and neighbours. Could this be the start of a new community based awareness?
One of the things that I have learned during the period of lockdown is how beautiful the place that I live is. On our walks and bike rides we have discovered tracks, byways and cycle paths that were unknown to us. These have introduced us to whole areas all around us that we never even knew existed.
Here is a question that occurs to me, Why do we go on holiday in the summer? If we are going to take a flight to somewhere warm why don’t we do it in the dark months of winter when we could really benefit from a vitamin D boost? Perhaps we could spend the summer holidays actually enjoying where we live and getting to know it better.
Whatever you do this summer take care, stay safe and be happy