Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I thought holidaying in the UK was meant to be cheap...'

In The Red
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The Independent Online

And so, inevitably, comes the catch. As it turns out, my "staycation" isn't nearly as cheap as I thought it was. Accommodation, as I've said, is fine. My little cottage by the harbour is, well, while not exactly a drop in the ocean, certainly nothing that's going to break the bank. Add that to the car rental and living expenses (the dining out, the museum fees, the souvenirs, the ice creams) and you've got a holiday that just about takes my budget to the max.

What I hadn't bargained for, however, was the not inconsequential amount I've been forced to fork out in the meantime. Well, I say "forced to", but what I really mean is "wanted to", And, obviously, did. Everyone knows that a holiday necessitates a bit of wardrobe resuscitation.

I mean, if I hadn't bought a bikini I wouldn't have been able to go to the beach. So long has it been since I last left London Town that the only swimwear I possess is an itsy-bitsy size six coral number left over from my considerably svelter teenage years.

Once I was in a shop I realised that there was a host of items that could improve the quality of my holiday. Like, er, a couple of pairs of denim hot pants (quarter-life crisis anyone?). And some flip-flops. And a nice new pair of sunglasses. Oh, and a hat, beach bag, swimming towel, sarong... yeah, that might just be it. Well, as far as "summer" clothes go anyway.

Of course, being staycation, one has to bargain for the probable spell of disastrous weather. So as well as those denim hot pants I picked up a brand new mac (a snip, I feel, at £10), some wellies, an umbrella, several new sweaters, and a veritable library full of trashy novels to read on those cottage-bound grey days.

And therein lies the fundamental flaw in my economising. Staycations may save on transport (and even accommodation if you're lucky enough to find a last-minute deal) but the periphery costs more than compensate. It's not just the macs and wellies – those in themselves would be fine.

It's the larger picture. The fact that when I get there I know I can't count on cheap local prices to compensate for my added expenditure.

And that I know I'll be popping down the local newsie for my regular fix of magazines, papers and assorted bits and bobs. Now that it's finally arrived, I realise that a staycation is not so much a compromise as a holiday with added extras. Which I may well end up paying for long after I'm back.

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