These travel planning tools will help you make the most of your next UK staycation – no matter what kind of getaway you have in mind.
Hands up if you’re planning a UK staycation this year? I read stats the other day that said that around 80% of people in the UK are planning trips close to home. Long haul and European holidays are being swapped for destinations like Devon, the Isle of Wight and Cornwall.
I’m really pleased to see the spotlight shining firmly on home sweet home. After all, I’ve always been pretty vocal about how much I love travelling within Britain! With almost 20,000 miles of picturesque coastline, endless stunning countryside and lots of adorable villages and buzzy cities, we won’t be short of things to do.
But, if you’re thinking of travelling within the UK, how are you preparing for your holiday? While you’ll want to check out obvious things like travel routes and the weather, I’ve found a bunch of great travel planning tools that will take your trip prep to the next level.
Some of these you may have heard of, while others are cool and quirky options to help truly immerse yourself in your chosen destination before you leave. From travel apps and websites, to local knowledge, I hope they come in handy.
5 UK Staycation Travel Planning Tools
1. Live Webcams
Imagine being able to travel virtually to your UK staycation destination before you leave home? Recently, while being unable to travel I discovered Ozolio’s incredible live HD webcams.
They have cameras set up around the UK (as well as worldwide, from resorts in Hawaii to Muscle Beach in LA) which stream in real time right to your computer or phone. Take a look at this webcam overlooking Porthmeor Beach in Carbis Bay, near St Ives in Cornwall. I’ve just spent ten minutes watching the waves lap the shore, the wind blowing the lifeguard flags and families paddling in the turquoise water.
It looks like a dreamy place for a family beach holiday. I keep thinking this could be a great way to choose where to book for your next break too!
I absolutely love how immersive these webcams are. During lockdown, I spent ages flicking through the webcams set up in Devon and Cornwall. Being able to see such beautiful destinations in real time felt really special.
The quality of the cameras is really good too. This isn’t a pixelated glitchy web stream – it’s all in HD with lots of details visible. Many of them pan around at regular intervals, so you can have a lot of different perspectives from one camera.
From St Michael’s Mount and Padstow in Cornwall, to Wales’ Gower Coast and the Aran Islands in Scotland, Ozolio has lots of webcam streams in the UK to explore. I really like this view over the beach in Lyme Regis. You get a really good idea of what the destination looks like, plus there’s always lots going on along the main stretch of the promenade. No matter what you’re up to, you can take a virtual holiday every single day!
If you love walking, this is a great travel planning tool to use. All Trails gives you walking routes and journey suggestions for lovely walks across the UK. It works both online and as an app (available for Apple and Android).
You can type in the location you’ll be visiting and it then presents you with several routes you can enjoy nearby. You can sort by length, or choose between easy, medium and hard difficulty ratings. For example, here I’ve typed in Cornwall, and it has 153 hiking trails on offer.
It includes detailed maps and key info for the route, such as the elevation, weather and highlights of the route. If you’re using the website, you can print a PDF to take with you, or if you use the app there’s an option to download offline maps (so you’re not relying on signal when you’re off the beaten track!)
Some features require making a free account. For example, then you can rate and review the walk, as well as upload photos. I really like flicking through other people’s pics and seeing what they’ve enjoyed and recommended.
While you can use it to plan some walks in advance, you can also use the app once you reach your UK staycation destination, and see what’s ‘nearby’. If you enjoy cycling or running, there are routes suitable for those activities too. There are also plenty that are marked as ‘dog friendly trails’ or ‘kid friendly’!
All Trails is a great travel planning tool, but it’s also a handy one to have at your fingertips once you’re at your chosen destination.
3. Travel Blogs
If you’re looking for up to date information about travelling in the UK, I’d recommend taking a look at some travel blogs before you go. Things change regularly within the tourism and hospitality industries, so the information in guide books and newspaper supplements becomes out of date quickly.
While a simple Google search will bring up plenty of great travel blogs, here are a few I’d recommend for specific parts of the UK. From the best beaches in North Wales, to quirky accommodation in England and beautiful walking routes around the country, the Great British Bucket List has lots of suggestions for where to visit around Britain.
If you’re heading to Dorset anytime soon, take a look at the Dorset Travel Guide. It was set up by a local who lives and breathes this beautiful county. You’ll find lots of detailed guides covering everything from walks and beaches, to restaurants and historical landmarks.
I’ve also got plenty of great recommendations in my UK travel section, so be sure to take a look there too.
Just as the webcams I mentioned have the power to transport you to destinations around the country, the words in the pages of a book can do the same. Trip Fiction is a website where you can search for a destination and find a list of books that are set in the location.
How lovely to read a book set in your chosen UK staycation destination before visiting, and experience it through the author’s eyes. No doubt it’ll enhance your enjoyment of your holiday too. For example, here I searched for Scarborough in Yorkshire, and the website has suggested all of these books…
Many destinations have an abundance of books set there, and once you have the list you can filter by genre, or sort by reader ratings.
There’s a mix of novels, memoirs and travelogues. As well as being a unique travel planning tool, it’s also a great way to ward off your post-holiday blues way after you return. Yep, you could continue to relive travels in your favourite places, lost in the pages of a travel-themed book!
There are plenty of ways to book accommodation these days, but if you’re keen to have an authentic and personal experience, I’d recommend looking at Airbnb. Most UK Airbnb’s are owned by locals in the destinations who are happy to impart their knowledge and recommendations the second you arrive. They can tell you where to go for the best Sunday roast, which walks to do or what to avoid.
Rather than large chain hotels or resorts, with an Airbnb you’re more likely to stay in a unique accommodation option, whether that’s a room in somebody’s house or a private residence. It’s also nice to have your own space to relax and unwind, as well as being able to self-cater your trip.
I adore all the quirky accommodation options available on Airbnb too. From shepherd’s huts and yurts, to beautiful treehouses, barges and barns, there are so many unique places to stay in the UK. If you’ve not seen it yet, I’d recommend taking a look at my guide to glamping near London – some seriously cool options in there!
Plus, don’t miss the Airbnb Experiences which include photography walks, cooking experiences and street art tours, all run by locals. They’re another way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can search for options here…
What are your favourite travel planning tools? Do you have a specific app or website you always use for inspiration or trip planning, or a secret travel hack you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.
Big thanks to Ozolio for sponsoring and inspiring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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