It’s time we rediscovered the simple pleasures of holidaying at home…

I used to travel A LOT. Up to ten trips a year sometimes: America once or twice a year, then lots of weekend breaks around Europe, then throw in a beach holiday or two in Majorca for good measure.

All that travel came to a grinding halt five years ago when our son was born. We made two trips with him to the Netherlands when he was a few months old. But it was so much hassle travelling with him that we just decided to holiday at home.

I came up with a rule that we would only go to places that were no more than an hour’s drive away. So Majorca, Berlin and Amsterdam were swapped for Ballycastle, Newcastle and Rostrevor. A bit of a fall from grace, but to be honest, we were happy enough to stay local.

Travel can be a horrible experience at times. The endless research on TripAdvisor and Airbnb, long queues at security checks, delayed flights, all the trudging around trying to find the place you are staying. On one particularly memorable trip to America, I picked up the norovirus. We had a nine-hour wait in Newark Airport for our flight home. I felt like death warmed up.

I think the internet has made the World more samey. When I first went to America in the 90’s it was fantastically exotic. Everything was a new experience. Now trends are global; there are burrito bars from the Lisburn Road to Lisbon, and you see the same products wherever you go. Also, you do get jaded: I will be happy if I never set foot in another museum or cathedral.

Only an hour from Belfast is the very scenic village of Rostrevor

Holidays at home have a ton of benefits. You can drive yourself there, you can bring as much stuff as you like, and most importantly, you can drive home quickly when you inevitably want to get back to your own bed.

We have some beautiful scenery in Northern Ireland. The Glens of Antrim are stunning. We passed through Waterfoot last year and stopped for ice cream. The beach was practically empty, and we had a great time splashing around in the very safe waters. Fermanagh is just as good as the Lake District in my book; Rostrevor is a beautiful little village. A few days in Ballycastle with some day trips to Rathlin Island or Portstewart make a great trip. We have a whole host of fantastic places to visit, all on our doorstep.

I have been thinking a lot recently about what makes a good holiday. I have been lucky to visit a lot of places – New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris etc. But I don’t think you can have a better experience than sitting outside a pub in Donegal with a pint and a plate of chips looking out over a sunny beach.

An ice cream and a dander on the beach at Ballycastle. What more do you want?

Kids love a beach: splashing around, digging in the sand, pottering about – it is how most of us spent our family holidays before cheap flights came along.

Every year we went to our caravan in Sligo. Gas mantels, sleeping bags, endless slices of toast. Freezing your nuts off in the cold Atlantic, liberally applying Sudocrem on your sunburn – the simple pleasures.

I have been thinking about getting a caravan as they are perfect for kids. You can throw them out the door, and they can roam around the site with the other kids leaving you alone to read a book and drink tea.

Due to Covid-19 you will likely not be going anywhere abroad this year, so my advice is to embrace the more simplistic holiday at home. And it does not rain as much as we imagine, I promise.

Waterfoot Beach” by Bold Frontiers is licensed under CC BY

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