With travel chaos putting off some from going abroad, what are popular alternatives and who’s taking them?
Kelli McRoberts usually holidays abroad, but decided to book a staycation this year in Limavady, after enjoying one so much last year.
She had been worried her teenage daughter wouldn’t enjoy a holiday at home, “but she loved it”.
“I think we don’t appreciate what’s on our doorstep and the pandemic allowed my family to view a staycation differently,” said Kelli.
Kelli isn’t alone, the ‘staycation’ — the term used to describe a holiday in your home country — is staying, after it essentially became the only form of getaway during the pandemic, due to travel restrictions.
But now many travellers are sticking with staycations as a way to beat the airport chaos, cancelled flights, and passport delays.
“You avoid the hassle of traveling. We will always book a staycation as well now because there is so much here still to explore” said Kelli.
Michelle Davis, who runs Staycations NI, a website designed to showcase “great holiday ideas in Northern Ireland” has said she still is continuing to receive enquiries about places to stay here, and this has “definitely increased in frequency in the last few weeks”.
One popular location is the Dunover Lodge in Ballywalter, Co Down. The self-catering holiday home costs £85 per night in July and August (including cleaning fees) and guests are greeted with fresh milk, bread and fire logs on arrival.
Linda Davidson, who runs the holiday home, said setting it up was something she and her husband David “always wanted to do”.
Like many such places she’s seen an increase in people wishing to stay local this summer recently.
“We’re a newly opened holiday lodge, I was born and bred in Ballywalter, ” she said, adding that people who come to her accommodation will have beautiful scenery on their doorstep with the lodge being so close to the beach.
“There isn’t a day that goes by on our social media pages without someone looking for a holiday close to home,” said Linda, who is also an NHS worker and says the pandemic was a game-changer for her and her partner.
Denise Graham, a recent visitor to Linda’s lodge, said the decision to stay closer to home was the perfect type of getaway for her and her young children.
“The price of everything has gone through the roof,” she says when asked about her decision to remain in Northern Ireland for a holiday rather than go abroad. “I’ve small children who all need passports which wouldn’t have been in here in time.”
It isn’t just bespoke staycation destinations that are seeing an increase in bookings.
Those behind larger resorts like the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges echoed similar feelings, saying the hotel “continues to see strong demand for staycations”.
General manager David Morrison said: “Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges is ideally located in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands and just one mile from the historic island town of Enniskillen, the perfect haven for a relaxing break.”
Each of the hotel’s self-catering lakeside cottages sleeps four and comes with its own private hot tub — prices begin at £151 per room/night, and you can even bring a furry friend, as the hotel is pet friendly.
Activity-based destinations, such as The Jungle in Magherafelt and Let’s Go Hydro have also proved popular. The Jungle outdoor activity centre says most of its business this year has come from hen and stag parties looking for a different type of experience. The staycation resort features a wide range of accommodation, from camping to glamping and their new log cabin.
If you wanted to rent one of their glamping cabins for two nights at the end of August, it would cost around £350. The resort also offers paintballing, clay pigeon shooting, zorbing and archery, which can be included in the price of your stay.
Let’s Go Hydro, in Carryduff currently offers guests over 15 different types of accommodation, perfect for families looking for any type of staycation experience. This includes their tree garden and lake pods, a houseboat, safari-themed tents, and forest domes.
They also have the River House a luxury self-catering house with fully equipped kitchen which sleeps eight people and has a private hot tub. A two-night stay in the house in late July will cost you nearly £500.
Two nights in their River Cottage will cost £380, whilst two nights in their heated village glamping pods will cost you £180. Accommodation includes access to their famous Aqua Park, perfect for swimmers and dare-devils alike.
Currently, a family of four traveling from Belfast for a self-catering holiday to Costa del Sol for one week, will be set back £731 per person or almost £3,000 for the whole trip. Alternatively, if you wanted to rent a ‘glamper’ van, a luxury motor home for a travel holiday which sleeps four people, it would cost you £1,393 for seven nights.