Staycation? No thanks.

Every so often a journalist comes up with a word or phrase that somehow sticks in the nation’s conscience. ‘Staycation’ is one such word. The first summer after the recession hit, we were all planning on having a VACATION by STAYing at home or close to home. Clever, eh?
Well, I’d like to meet the journalist who came up with the term ‘staycation’ so I might shake them by the hand. Yes, shake them by the hand, but  then not let go and instead hurl them into the nearest lake.
Unfortunately, ‘staycation’ has become something of a buzz word in marketing departments across the country and rather than using it to help cash-strapped families save money, some see it as a cue to bleed the suckers dry. The more kids they have, the better.
Now I appreciate our tourist industry has to make money and I am all for the sector taking advantage of the current
– ugh, how I hate this phrase – economic climate. There are many places out there offering good value days out, but alas there are probably just as many who are not. And if they’re not careful greed may be their downfall and just as quickly as it boomed, we might see the death of the staycation. No, really. Last week we enjoyed our very own staycation and by Thursday morning I was beginning to wonder if we might have saved a bit of money by booking a week in Spain. There were a few reoccurring niggles othat popular resorts would do well to consider acting upon or else they might find themselves becoming less popular.
Parking charges for a start. One of my favourite beaches on the Lizard recently saw its parking fees shoot up by almost 50%. Instead of paying about three pounds for the day, visitors are now expected to stump up 1.80 for the first two hours and an extra 1.10 for every hour after that. Even worse, I thought, was the park and ride for St Ives at Lelant. It’s eight pounds for a family return ticket to St Ives which I think is an absolute bargain. My objection is the 2.30 fee for the car park. Just months ago it had cost nothing to park there. Surely the point of a park and ride is that you shouldn’t have to pay to park AND ride. The total cost of going both was double what it would have cost to park in St Ives itself which can’t be right. Cornwall Council had better be careful because I can’t have been the only one to have noticed this and got angry, especially if they, like me, missed a train while having to fumble for the correct change. Slowly people will be put off.
Fees to attractions vary of course. Some can be good value and even moreso if you seek out vouchers from local papers. You just avoid the exhortionate ones if they don’t look worth the price. We ruled out at least three places we had been keen to visit for this reason.
Unfortunately, the ones we did visit weren’t immune from getting my back up. When I was a kid I remember going on school trips and after traipsing for seemingly hours around some dull museum being desperate to go to the gift shop. Where was the gift shop? Were we going to get to go in the gift shop?
Well, that doesn’t happen nowadays. Nowadays you exit the attraction and there you are surrounded by branded teddy bears and key rings and shelf upon shelf of irrelevant toys. And when you finally walk out, you are at least ten quid per child lighter.
And then… THEN… you get to the cafe. Now we were good and often packed a little picnic before heading out for the day. But you can’t avoid eating or drinking out completely. Again some places were reasonable but others… two pounds for a cup of tea, 2.50 for one stingy scoop of ice cream on a cone. It seems that people who run service stations and buffet cars on trains have now taken over our seasides.
Look, staycation boomers, you may think you are making a fast buck by adding 50p there and charging an extra pound there but really you’ll have your punters shunning you next time for the nearest airport quicker than you can say ‘viva espanya.’
My wife reckons I’m being harsh and that we did a lot for our money, the kids loved it and it was nice coming home to our own home each day. But I still insist that had we booked a week abroad in advance, it would have cost the same, if not a bit less.
‘OK then,’ she said.’How about next year you book one. In advance.’
I thought about this for a moment. Like most blokes in couples, booking holidays in advance isn’t really our strongpoint.
‘Alright,’ I said, ‘so next year where shall we go…..? The aquarium or that adventure park they’be just done up off the A30….?’

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