Holiday plans in tatters? RAC research reveals 'staycation' boom this summer

Holiday plans in tatters? RAC research reveals 'staycation' boom this summer
Only one-in-three drivers (31%) expect to take the summer holiday they had planned before the coronavirus outbreak.

A UK ‘staycation’ by car is now favoured by drivers who had no holiday plans or had to cancel them, new research for RAC Breakdown shows.1

The research, carried out with more than 3,200 drivers, shows that demand for a summer break is still strong, presuming travel restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are lifted in the coming weeks, something a UK Government minister has indicated may happen.2

Nearly seven-in-10 (68%) of those who have cancelled, or expect to cancel, their existing holiday plans still want to have a break if they can – of these, a staycation in the UK by car is favoured by the majority (59%), with 13% holding out for a trip abroad by plane. A further seven per cent are looking to take their car across the Channel for a holiday.

Meanwhile, of those who have cancelled, or expect to cancel, their original summer holiday plans and now won’t be going away at all, around half (52%) say it is because of ongoing fears over the coronavirus.

A similar proportion (51%) say they do not expect the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against international travel to be changed in time for the summer.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “While a good proportion of drivers we surveyed remain optimistic about taking the holiday they had planned before the lockdown, most are anticipating having to make changes – with a move towards UK staycations the favoured option.

“The fourth of July is being rumoured as the day when lockdown restrictions may be eased further, at least in England, with any government announcement around this needing to be made by 29 June.2

Crucially, the ban on overnight stays would need to be lifted, and it may also be the case that would-be holidaymakers wait to see whether groups of family and friends are permitted to share accommodation before committing to any plans.

When it comes to any foreign trips this summer – by car, train or air – much will inevitably depend on whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office changes its travel advice, as well as any quarantine requirements holidaymakers may have to take at their destination or on their return.

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Breakdown cover from just £7.95 a month*. Plus up to £150 of driving savings!

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Mr Dennis continued: If summer holidays do become a reality for people this year, and some tourist amenities are allowed to reopen, we’d anticipate some large spikes in weekend leisure traffic on major routes to the coasts, lakes and mountains. Camping and caravan sites, as well as hotel and self-catering accommodation, are also likely to be booked up quickly.

"However, the prospect of a single big ‘getaway’ day on the roads around the time schools normally break up for the summer looks very unlikely – with relatively few children in school, and with plans for an extension of the summer term in Wales, any getaways are likely to be far more staggered this year than in the past.

"As they have been throughout the coronavirus outbreak, RAC patrols remain ready to assist and provide complete peace of mind to drivers whose vehicles let them down."

"Our breakdown service provided by our partners in mainland Europe is also operating for those already in Europe or who decide to travel, although it may be affected by local restrictions the availability of garages.

"The best advice to avoid breaking down is to check your vehicles ‘vitals’ - oil, coolant, tyres and electrics – before travelling. And if your car is overdue for a service, we’d strongly recommend getting it booked in before making any long journeys."

The RAC provides a best in market breakdown assistance service for members of the Camping and Caravanning Club. The RAC Arrival breakdown policy, valid in the UK and continental Europe, has no weight or size restrictions for caravans or motorhomes and offers a range of other benefits.

Servicing and MOT at any of the 700 RAC’s Approved Garages can be booked quickly and easily online.

Are you going on a staycation of your own? Let us know your plans in a comment below.


1 Research conducted by the RAC among 3,229 UK drivers between 17 and 24 May 2020. Just under a quarter of these (23%) had a summer break in the UK booked or planned before the lockdown, while 30% had a similar trip abroad lined up. A further 27% hadn’t arranged anything but hoped to before the summer, while a fifth (20%) had no intention to take a summer holiday in 2020. Of the 53% who had a summer holiday in the UK or abroad booked or planned before the lockdown, 31% still hope to take the trip.
2 Health secretary Matt Hancock interviewed on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, 17 June 2020, said: “We’re working on that [possibility of people taking summer holidays this year]. We’re going to say more before the 29th of June which is the legal date at which we’ve got to review this policy… I want people to have a summer holiday whether that’s at home or abroad in places where it is safe to go where people aren’t going to bring back more of the disease in large numbers… I’ve got a smile on my face Chris but I can’t say more than that.”

Get 30 driving tips that will save you money

Running a car isn’t cheap, but there are some easy things you can do to keep your costs down. Get these tips and more useful driving articles sent straight to your inbox now.

Get 30 driving tips that will save you money
Get 30 driving tips that will save you money

^For 1 nominated vehicle when added to Extra or Complete cover. New customers only. Ends 08/12/23. *New, single vehicle-based cover. £7.95 a month for Basic cover.