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I’ve had some of my best holidays in Scotland – and they weren’t ‘staycations’

Want white sandy beaches? Scotland's got them in spades
Want white sandy beaches? Scotland's got them in spades

Staycations. I’m scunnered.

And not by the prospect of a week’s break on home soil.

Lindsay Bruce

No, I’m getting more than a little picnicked off by a growing number of people who can’t seem to bring themselves to call seven days in Scotland with a roof box bigger than a caravan “a holiday”.

I mean, when did we get so pathetically entitled that it only qualifies as a holiday if we have to queue at an airport?

Surely a “staycation” does what it says on the tin? It’s when you vacation by staying right where you are. And a holiday, then, is everything else?

Defining ‘staycation’

You can’t tell me sitting on your gran’s couch watching Eamonn and Ruth stand in for Phil and Holly is the same thing as getting the boat from Stornoway?

Iona. Do you live there? No? Not a staycation.

If it really is the case that it’s not a holiday unless you jet off to somewhere warm, I don’t think I – or most of Scotland until the mid-eighties – ever went on holiday until adulthood

St Andrews? Is that where yer hoose is? No? Then please, even just to keep the stick of rock people in business, stop saying it’s a staycation.

If you visit every museum in the north-east, go to the baths twice, fit in a cheeky Nando’s but come every night to your own bed… then that my friends is what the young people are calling a staycation.

I went on my holidays in Scotland

If it really is the case that it’s not a holiday unless you jet off to somewhere warm, I don’t think I – or most of Scotland until the mid-eighties – ever went on holiday until adulthood.

And even then, does a subsidised German foreign exchange trip to a place that translates as “Pig Ford” count?

But I did go my holidays. I did.

My grandparents saved and sacrificed all year so I could leave my housing scheme for the rain-kissed beaches of Cumbrae, or these here Aberdonian shores for the Glasgow Fair fortnight.

One of the rain-kissed beaches of Cumbrae

Many an inexplicably long car journey was taken from the Central Belt with me facing out the back window, seatbeltless, holding the wheel of my bike while my Papa stopped every 45 mins to crack open the cool box and the summer drink of choice.

Having exchanged his year-round principles, whereby we would only ever be offered one glass bottle of Irn-Bru between a multiple of us, we’d each be endowed with a “just for the holidays” totally tropical can of Lilt each.

We’d sit roadside, usually on an itchy blanket, with a (highly elaborate for a five minute pitstop) folding table and matching tartan flask combo, sipping the drink of the tropics, planning the places we’d “go a wee run to” using my aunty’s Aberdeen, Balfron Place house as our base.

Not once did it ever feel like I was on anything but a holiday.

Stop worrying about labels and start enjoying yourself

But if you’re still not convinced let me try one more time to win you over.

To help you feel better about your holiday en Ecosse, here’s my checklist:

  • At any time, did you even consider putting washing powder in a freezer bag?
  • Have you now, or at any time this summer, Googled the cost of a CalMac ferry?
  • Did you purchase anything new – even if it was a jumper – for said time away?
  • Do you already know that getting to your location will need two sanctioned petrol station breaks and the remortgaging of your home to pay for the cost of the 13 other unscheduled stops on the way?

Friends, hear me. You can wave your North Coast 500 flags all you want, but let’s be honest, you’re going your holidays. And, what’s more, you’re going to have an unashamedly brilliant time.

Eilean Donan castle

Whether it’s white sand or craggy hills, a caravan in Dunfermline or a week in an Airbnb, we are the envy of the world for our history, our culture, our landscapes and our people.

For my 40th birthday I added one more tick to my bucket list. Island hopping in a motorhome on the Hebrides – check. I could cry just thinking about how magical it was.

And, despite a Disney trip and a land made of Lego, it is a Santa sleepover in Aviemore that holds the title of our best family holiday ever.

So, for the love of the memories, can we just agree to send “staycation” away to wherever chillax has gone to, call a (bucket and) spade a spade, sit back and enjoy our good, old-fashioned, Scottish holidays?


Lindsay Bruce is a journalist, author and speaker

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