With travel abroad options at an all-time low, the vast majority of us will be staying local when it comes to summer holidays this year. And while the weather might not be as reliable as it is on the Med, many of us are really relishing the opportunity to explore bits of the UK we wouldn't normally get to see.
One huge advantage of staying closer to home for your summer break is that you can pack a lot more than when heading abroad by plane. So, whether you're filling up your car boot, fixing on your bike rack or making last-minute shopping orders to your holiday cottage, here's a list of 5 things you really should have with you on your 2021 staycation, to ensure you make the most of your precious holiday time.
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1. Bring bikes – and electric bikes are even better
E-Trends Unisex Trekker Ebike, £786.04, Amazon
What better way to explore the stunning countryside that the UK has to offer than by jumping on a bike? The perfect activity for an overcast afternoon and the best way to really get off the beaten track and explore the delights of the British countryside.
As a family of four, we usually hire bikes when we go on holiday, but there is a limit to how much cycling you can do with moaning tweens and teens if the terrain isn't flat and easy. Our summer staycation to the North Yorkshire Moors was revolutionised by the use of an E-Trends Trekker bike, which made quick work of the impressive hills in and around Dalby Forest. The bikes work well on or off-road, and once charged up overnight, have a range of up to 30 miles. We all loved them – the more nervous of our party was relieved to discover the absolute control you have over your power-assisted speed – the moment you stop pedalling or tap the brakes, you're back down to good old pedal power. You don't need to use the power when you're going downhill or even along the flat, so it remains great exercise, but when faced with a huge incline to get over into the next valley, it makes an incredible difference to be able to give yourself a boost. It means you've got the energy to explore and enjoy your destination and you don't have to dread the return journey!
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2. Pre-order your food – and you can never have enough snacks!
The joy of internet shopping is that you can plan ahead and arrange a food delivery a few hours after your scheduled arrival in your holiday home. With such great coverage across the UK now, you can pretty much guarantee one of the major supermarkets, including Ocado and Tesco, will serve your holiday home, and planning ahead for provisions makes it much easier to slip right into holiday mode the moment you arrive.
If you have a barbeque, be sure to order charcoal, firelighters and matches, and filling the freezer with ice creams and lollies makes it feel like a holiday (and also saves a pretty penny).
Do make sure you have plenty of snacks on order. There's nothing like a holiday to make everyone feel hungry – so stock up on biscuits, crisps and other usually-rationed treats that remind the little ones it's a special time. They might also serve as back up as bribes when it comes to encouraging them out on an afternoon walk!
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3. Stock up on some new games
Whatever the weather, it's always nice to slow things down and spend some time doing things you don't end up doing at home – such as playing family board games. But it can be hard to find a game the whole family enjoys.
Catan, £27.57, Amazon
Catan was our discovery during last year's lockdown-induced staycations – and it's a really great game for the whole family, easy enough for youngsters but requiring enough strategy to keep the teenagers amused too.
Perudo Tin Game, £18.34, Amazon
Perudo is another goodie that might not already be a staple in your home – a dice game that involves a bit of betting and a bit of bluffing and will keep everyone from grandparents to children amused.
4. Pack a wetsuit
Child's Shorty Surfing Wetsuit, £12.99, Decathlon
They might not have been readily available when us parents were young, but there's no doubt that the extra hours of shiver-free fun that can be had in a British sea, river or lake, is worth the minimal expense that a wetsuit now entails.
Adult Shorty Surfing Wetsuit, £39.99, Decathlon
Even Decathlon's entry level 'shorty' which only costs £12.99 made a real difference to my kids' ability to go surfing in the North Sea on our staycation. And they're such good value that mum and dad can even treat themselves.
5. Get yourself a windbreak and a beach umbrella
Printed Outdoor Standard Stripes Windbreak, from £19.99, Amazon
We all know the weather on UK beaches can be unpredictable, and windbreaks are not something you'd ever consider taking on a Mediterranean holiday. But being able to spend as much time on the beach as you can will make a real difference to your staycation, and a windbreak is a vital piece of kit to ensure you can enjoy the good weather even if there is a bit of a sea breeze.
Striped Umbrella, £39.99, Amazon
The other must-have for a British beach holiday is a beach umbrella. Unlike holidays in Europe, the option to take ownership of a couple of sun loungers on the beach or a cabana around the pool is rarely available. This way you can make the most of the midday sunshine without having to worry about buns.
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