Comedian Simon Evans (desperately trying to afford a holiday) says organise a sleepover for your children, go to post-Trump Mexico, or just hang out at the local stately home
Among the wealth of economic body blows innocent middle-aged Brits have had to endure this year (or ‘have been willing to take in order to stand up for their principles’, depending on your point of view), the collapse in overseas holiday spending power may not be the most catastrophic, but it’s probably the most depressing.
Yet amid the general air of suppressed panic that has characterised even the most even-handed of reporting on new President Donald Trump, one silver lining seems to have gone unremarked. The sudden collapse in the value of the Mexican peso has at least rendered a hot destination affordable to those whose holiday savings are unavoidably denominated in sterling.
And as someone in their fifties who never seems to have enough to put aside for so much as a day trip to Rhyll, let alone a fortnight in countries where the natives demand euros be handed over for cold refreshments, this is good news.
My wife and I left it too late to have children, but we’ve gone ahead and had them anyway, and consequently at the age of 51, I still have to factor a 9 year-old and a 12 year-old into my plans
I’m no fan of long haul flights but that aside, Mexico sounds good to me. As I write this, the sad news of Leonard Cohen’s death is still cold upon my mind. It has reminded me that all I ever wanted from a holiday was pictured on the back cover of his album Songs from a Room.
It turns out the room in question was in Hydra, Greece, but I believe rooms of this kind are readily available in Mexico, if one is willing to overlook the exact provenance of the sun glinting through the shutters, which I am.
And besides, Mexico does now pose the risk of one being drafted into some spurious border-fortifying bricklaying exercise. But if you are still determined to enjoy an affordable change of surroundings in the coming year, I have a few other suggestions.
Send your kids on a series of sleepovers. The term is self-explanatory – they are called sleepovers because for whoever is hosting them, sleep is over
The key to minimising costs on holiday is of course to reduce the number of dependants you take with you. If you are ‘lucky’ enough to now have an empty nest, you can now enjoy child-free holidays for the first time in years.
Sadly my wife and I left it too late to have children, but we’ve gone ahead and had them anyway, and consequently at the age of 51, I still have to factor a 9 year-old and a 12 year-old into most of my travel plans. Not only do we have to pay for their flights, their beds, and sometimes their medical interventions, we have to pay the inflated prices that kick in when you go out of term time. Yet yanking your kids out of school is not merely frowned upon nowadays, but actively prosecuted. What to do?
The simplest solution and one that the law seems to smile upon is simply to leave them behind. You will of course have to play it smart to avoid detection – not by the state, which is indifferent, but to your actual brood, who may feel resentful.
The secret is to arrange a sequence of sleepovers so deftly interlocking that your kids never twig you’ve scarpered. Sleepovers are a relatively new phenomenon. They certainly never existed in my day, but the term is self-explanatory – they are called sleepovers because for whoever is hosting them, sleep is over.
Buy a day pass to a stately home, accidentally step over a red rope or two, dog leg down a couple of corridors and bed down for the night in a nice four poster
You will be expected to host a return match, of course, but in the meantime, line your ducks up in something approaching a row, and your kids will enjoy a series of midnight feasts and unfamiliar breakfast routines and think they’re the ones having fun, while you move smoothly from breakfast to pool to bar without ever detouring via the hotel’s soft play area/teens’ club/local drinking dive for the entire week.
However, not everyone is a sun-seeker and some prefer to enjoy a more traditional domestic holiday. For instance, the National Trust now offers a number of lovely self-catering properties in the grounds of their grand stately homes. But these are usually surprisingly expensive, no doubt in some strange unfathomable way, due to the price of Marmite. And let’s be honest, they’re also rather overshadowed by the larger premises half a mile up the gravel drive.
Age is your friend here. One can get away with things that arouse suspicion when observed in the young. A younger person dawdling too close to the off limits areas of any stately home will be closely scrutinised. But an older person will be presumed confused, and harmless, and if challenged can quickly change the subject to lavatorial imperatives and thus be re-directed to safety.
Hence, the simple way to get an affordable room in a heritage property is to buy a day pass to the main house, have a wander round, with your wash-bag and pyjamas cleverly concealed in a picnic basket, then accidentally step over a red rope or two, dog leg down a couple of corridors and bed down for the night in a nice four poster with views of the ha-ha to wake up to.
Airbnb has of course made many places available for a holiday that would previously only have been the sort of place you would have crashed out at after a party, and if you go with another family, the cost can be reasonable.
Another thought? Why not book a holiday with your kids, and a friend and their kids? And then at the last minute, get sick and just stay at home…