Making up for the lost holidays of 2020
2020 forced us all to either cancel or radically re-think their travel plans. International travel was curtailed for most of the year and we saw some bizarre patterns of travel emerging. Last-minute bookers waiting for corridors to appear and then jetting off by the plane-load to the sun; sun-worshipping hordes packing out the beaches of the UK’s tourist hotspots and many leaving litter in their wake…
Images like this are a million miles from the benefits of experiential travel, like immersing yourself into a different way of life, doing an activity that takes you out of your comfort zone, a trying a challenge that enables you to escape the everyday. Many of us thought we could only find this by travelling far from our shores to distant lands, but 2020 taught us to re-think and look deeper at what was always right there in front of our noses.
The big re-think forced many people to look down as well as lock-down. But it does not have to be that way in 2021. We have the advantage of hindsight now and have a pretty good idea of what’s coming - uncertainty over international travel and certainty that windows of opportunity might be short and sweet. So how do you get your fix of experiential travel? We provide our thoughts and advice below.
Natural Britain's Top Travel Tips for 2021:
1. Stay home and have your annual adventure within the UK
Most of us who yearn for adventure overseas completely overlook what we have at home. Bizarrely, it can actually be quite difficult to find it, but we have an abundance of adventure opportunities right here in the British Isles. We have mountain summits, flower-filled meadows set on rolling hills and an abundance of coastline with hidden coves, characterful villages and activities aplenty - coasteering, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, trekking plus much more (have you tried or even heard of river bugging?).
2. Ditch that whole Bucket List idea
Unfortunately, Bucket Lists seem to have become part of many people’s lives. If you have one, we think that 2021 is the year to review and rethink yours. Or maybe even drop it for good. Is it just a tick-list of places to take a selfie? What do you really gain from this? We’d strongly advocate that any lists like this be more about experiences that lead to personal growth, self-awareness and awareness of others. Isn't it time to ditch that list of places to visit for a new list of immersive, meaningful and challenging experiences?
3. YOLO (You Only Live Once) so make the most of your time
Many of us forgo discovering parts of Britain because we think ‘it will always be there’. 2020 taught us that we really should not put off making the best of our precious time. You just have to browse Wanderlust Magazine or the travel sections of The Guardian, The Times or Telegraph to see the increase in coverage about the wonderful experiences we have here in the British Isles.
Make the most of your time in 2021 and plan a series of breaks in the UK - which parts of Britain have you always wanted to go to, but never bothered because you just got used to it being there? If you’re used to taking two overseas trips per year, the budget equivalent of this is probably four or more UK breaks - maybe one per season or one per compass direction north, east, south and west.
3. Travel in a bubble
With limited social contact during 2020 most of us have realised the importance of family and friends. Many of the UK’s providers of travel experiences and accommodation noticed a significant trend towards families or groups of friends coming together.
We’d strongly recommend creating your own bubble and letting us plan the activities to suit your group. Meet somewhere beautiful and stay in unique accommodation such as Shepherds’ Huts, yurts or luxury beach houses and enjoy your time together. Or for the more adventurous, head into the wilds of Britain and have an adrenaline-filled weekend in Scotland or Wales with activities such as rafting, kayaking, canyoning, Via Ferrata and more...
4. Go beyond the beaten track
We all saw the reports of crowded beaches and parks in the summer of 2020 so there’s a growing recognition that we need to look beyond the main tourism hubs. The Natural Britain team specialise in doing just this and our partners know all the best local places: pubs and cafes, walks and rides on quieter trails, locally-run accommodation, secret wild camping spots and more. By working with local supply chains we ensure that tourism helps to support the community.
6. Be an ethical explorer
The environment may not always have been at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year (there has definitely been an increase in single-use plastic for instance) but many of our partners are doing incredible things to have a positive impact. The growing movement of the ethical consumer may have paused briefly, but it has not stopped, and we urge everyone to measure and reduce their impact on the environment. We are committed to providing a ‘Carbon Label’ on every one of the experiences and the accommodation we offer and to make this information transparent on our website. We want to help ethically-minded consumers to make informed choices when buying their travel experience. Staying in the UK will most definitely help to reduce your carbon impact and, on most Natural Britain trips, the carbon footprint is negligible compared to overseas travel.
For more information on any of the experiences mentioned see:
Please make sure you book early as availability may be limited. Planning an escape is good for your mental health too - it’s great to have something positive to look forward to.