Before I start my old age rant about the now over-used term ‘staycation‘ it may be worth confirming what it actually means. Just check the online definition surely? It’s not quite that simple though as depending where you look the word seems to have wide range of meanings.
- Oxford language definition – a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad,
- Wikipedia – a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance not requiring an overnight stay.
- Cambridge dictionary – a holiday that you take at home or near your home rather than travelling to another place.
- Forbes – a fancy term for spending your time-off at home.
- World Wide Words – a stay-at-home vacation.
I could add hundreds of other slightly different meanings to this list. Although I really like the response that my writer-friend Janice gave:
“I think right now a staycation is an Anglo-American word for a safecation….”
When was Staycation first used?
The word was first used in the Washington Post on 4th August 2005 as follows;
“The city empties out. The commute becomes bearable. It’s the perfect time for a ‘staycation,’ to dig in those heels and enjoy the comforts of home: 300-thread-count sheets, stainless outdoor fire pit, well-stocked fridge.”
The word was added to dictionaries in the USA in 2009 and became very popular during the downturn in the economy over the subsequent years.
What did it originally mean?
In the United States staycation has always referred to a stay-at-home vacation where you take days trips or undertake activities without overnight stays.
Strangely it was picked up in the UK mainly from US TV shows and films but really took off when the worldwide pandemic hit in March 2020. The meaning seems to have morphed from staying-at-home in the USA to just staying in the country in the UK.
Language evolves doesn’t it?
A standard response to any variation in grammar, punctuation, pronunciation etc and often perfectly acceptable. Meanings of words and phrases have always changed throughout time as society and civilisation develops with immigration key to that evolution. Our society now is a combination of ancestry from across the globe and the influence of hundreds of other languages can be heard every day. This has always happened and will continues to happen.
Recently however, and by recently I mean in the past 20 years, the social media explosion has created a new type of language evolution. Where in the past words changed meaning and spelling over generations and sayings gained popularity by word-of-mouth this is now happening much much faster. Often as the result of celebrity use or TV.
I think the main difference now is that the USA dominates most media channels so any changes in meaning for words and phrases is driven by their society so countries like the UK are now more heavily influenced. I do think it’s a shame that the word is so heavily used now as it does seem to belittle trips within your own country implying that they are somehow ‘less’ than an overseas trip.
It could well be that the whole ‘staycation‘ debate is really just a generational thing. People of a certain age, and I include myself in that bracket, probably consider staycations to be home-holidays with days-out whereas those that are younger see them as UK-only holidays. It doesn’t matter that we have different slants on the same word except for minor misunderstandings so it isn’t a big deal at all.
Same for holidays and vacations these days. Nobody outside North America ever had vacations previously but the word has crept in to our everyday-use here now.
No Staycations for us
Although so many people now use the word for home-country holidays we won’t be doing that. Because of our upbringing where holidays were just holidays regardless of where you went and staycations didn’t even exist then we will just use the word to describe time spent at home with occasional day trips.
Maybe it’s our age. Maybe it’s our Britishness. Maybe it’s just that we don’t really like the word.
To be honest though it really doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you enjoy the experience. Holidays, vacations, trips? They are all the same thing really aren’t they? Just interesting how words suddenly appear as if from nowhere and start to pop-up everywhere dominating a lot of the media.
Enjoy your time-off/trip/vacation/holiday/staycation/journey/travels wherever you are going. If it’s to the other side of the world or just to the end of the garden it is all a big adventure.
30/07 – 04/08/2020