Holidays aren’t just about scorching hot sunshine, white sandy beaches, and the smell of fresh ocean air; they’re also a time for adventures and ticking a few items off your neverending bucket list. However, with exotic destinations often costing a pretty penny, not everyone loves the idea of flying thousands of miles to a far-flung destination just to try their hand at something new.
However, there is a solution! Research carried out by international ferry operator Stena Line found that it’s possible to have your dream holiday in the UK and Ireland – without spending a small fortune.
They took the time to ask the UK public about their dream holiday activities and found that the five most desired ones are:
- Safari experiences
- Thermal springs
- Whale watching
They then decided to take it a step further by finding out where in the UK and Ireland, you can experience these activities while saving some money in the process.
When people dream of riding to the waves, the first destination that usually comes to mind is Hawaii. Not only is it renowned for its incredible surf culture and crystal clear waves, but it also offers sandy beaches that stretch for miles and tropical weather that makes it a surfer’s dream.
However, this dream comes with a pretty hefty cost. Flights come in at around £1,244 per person, and it takes a long 17 hours to get there. Also, staying at a Honolulu hotel for just five days will set you back £890, and then you have to add on the cost of an ESTA or Visa, and surfboard hire – something that a lot of people find a little off-putting. Once you’ve added everything up, the trip racks up to more than £2,000 per person.
On the other hand, Llangennith in Wales offers the perfect opportunity for people based in the UK to try their hand at riding the waves. Not only does it cost significantly less than jetting off to Hawaii, but it’s also favored by professional and amateur surfers everywhere as the heartland of Welsh surfing. This stunning long stretch of beach gives surfers the chance to dive deep into the Gower, and practice your moves until your heart’s content.
Llangennith hotels cost an average of around £425 for five days, £465 less than a Honolulu hotel, and you don’t need to worry about the cost of flights. Surfboard hire is £80 per person for the entire trip, which brings your total cost to just £505.
- Safari experience
For most holidaymakers, a safari experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and many can only dream of the day they’ll be able to get up close to some of nature’s wildest creatures. Africa is the go-to destination for safari holidays, with Maasai Mara in Kenya being the most popular because of its plentiful wildlife populations.
But the issue with planning a safari trip to Kenya is that the shortest trip available is three days long and costs an eye-watering £564.20 per person. But the expenses don’t stop there: You also have to account for a hotel, return flights, vaccinations, and a visa for each passenger. In total, excluding other expenses such as food, airport transfers, and spending money, the Kenyan safari experience totals £1,622.87 per person.
But fear not, there is another solution. The West Midlands Safari Park on the outskirts of Birmingham gives you the chance to bring your safari dream to life for a fraction of the cost of Africa. You’ll be able to see every animal from the Serengeti plains in just one day, and if you want a more hands-on day, you can opt for a VIP package too!
Entrance to the Safari Park costs just £24 per person, and hotels in Birmingham average at around £43 per night. You also won’t need to worry about paying for flights, vaccinations, or airport transfers either.
- Thermal Springs
Natural hot springs are one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations, and they’re a rarity that’s increased in popularity of the last few years. The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is one of the most famous thermal springs, and people flock from across the globe to experience this wonder. The azure blue volcanic lake contrasts starkly against its darker surroundings making for stunning views.
However, although beautiful, because of the surge in tourists visiting this magical destination, prices have soared, and it has since been named as one of the most expensive destinations in the world. Just one hour in the spring costs £44.60 if you book in advance, and staying at the Silica Hotel nearby will set you back about £448.83 for one night.
If you’re interested in trying thermal springs but don’t love the idea of forking out thousands to visit Iceland, the Thermae Spa in Bath, England is a fantastic alternative. It allows you to take a relaxing dip into a genuine geothermal bath for just £36 on weekdays, and that includes access to the outdoor rooftop pool and Nierva bath. Additionally, accommodation in Bath is more than reasonable costing around £67 per night. Attending the Thermae Spa means you can save over £500 on this dream holiday activity, with the total trip cost totaling a modest £103.
- Whale Watching
The most massive whales can reach up to 30 meters long, which is why it’s understandable that seeing these gentle giants up close can’t be achieved by visiting a nearby aquarium. It’s because of this that people are willing to spend hundreds of pounds on a trip to Husavik in Iceland, which has become the go-to place for whale watching. Companies in the area offer incredible tours from Skjalfani Bay on traditional wooden boats, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see whales up close because of their population in the area.
Nonetheless, as discussed above, Iceland comes with an expensive price tag, and not everyone has the means or time to go. Three hours on the water costs £66.52 per person, one night in a hotel is around £103, and return flights are £396. That brings your total up to £565.52 for each traveler, not including transfers, spending money, and food.
West Cork in Ireland provides a similar whale watching experience for a fraction of the price at £42.67 each for four hours on the water. Better yet, hotels are only about £87 per night, and getting to Ireland is easy with an overnight ferry ride priced at just £41 per person. Also, traveling overnight means you’ll have even longer in Ireland to explore.
The Matterhorn on the border between Italy and Switzerland is one of the most popular skiing destinations in the world, and many people fly to Cervinia, a ski resort at the base of the Matterhorn, for the skiing experience of a lifetime.
At just £72 for off-peak return flights to Cervinia, and with one-day ski hire costing £18.79, this isn’t one of the most expensive destinations on our list; that is until you look at the price of hotels. One room booked for two nights totals over £420. It’s because of this cost that many are choosing to visit Glenshee in Scotland.
The Glenshee Ski Resort gets a great deal of snowfall throughout the year and offers the opportunity for skiers of all skill levels to take to the slopes. Also, a one-day lift pass at the Glenshee Resort is slightly cheaper than Cervinia at £32 for experienced skiers, and £20 for beginners. It’s £23 for ski hire, and staying at a hotel in Ballater costs just £55 – that’s a total saving of £387.46.
A bucket list family holiday from home
If you’re not too happy about the idea of traveling further afield to tick off those bucket list items, or if you don’t have the time or funds to do so, opting to have your dream holiday in the UK could be the perfect solution. Not only can you save upwards of £4,500, but you’ll also still have the chance to build cherished memories and spend time with the ones you love the most. A breakdown of all prices can be found in this infographic on the Stena Line website, and in this table:
|At home (£)
|Total Saving (£)