Over at Pond Parleys they are having a debate about the joy of staycationing, and it's prompted me to think about the differences I've noticed between the UK and America when it comes to the good old summer holiday.
As the end of term approaches, I know that in England there would be just one conversation at the school gates (not to mention in hairdressing salons everywhere). "Going away this summer?" But here, it is just not really a topic of conversation (other than the people who ask me if we're going back to England). You're more likely to be asked what summer camp the kids are signed up for, or whether you're planning on joining the town swimming pool.
The first summer we were here, I noticed that people didn't really seem to be going away, and I put it down to the recession. Towards the end of August, people mentioned either going down to the (Jersey) Shore, or 'out east' - which only means one thing, because you can't get much further East in the US than Long Island: ie the Hamptons. But this was only for a long weekend, or at most a week. Many Americans only get a couple of weeks holiday a year, so hardly anyone takes a two week trip anywhere.
Since then I've realised that this is a common phenomenon and probably not recession-related at all. People just don't seem to take off on summer holidays. Perhaps it's not surprising - after all, why go away on a beach holiday when you have beautiful beaches right on your doorstep on Long Island? Trips to 'beach' type destinations, like Florida, the Caribbean or Mexico, tend to be taken in the winter here. But even visiting different parts of the States seems to be fairly unusual, unless people have family there.
Taking a day trip to a theme park does seem to be popular - we have places such as Sesame Place and Hershey Park within driving distance, and people do fly down to Disneyworld, although usually not in the summer. As for travelling abroad, most people I know have been to Europe once or twice - but usually during their student years, or perhaps on their honeymoon. The idea of abroad with a family seems out of the question for most people- and I am sure it isn't that they couldn't afford it, as we live in a fairly affluent area. (I'm sure families with equivalent incomes back in London would be summer holidaying in Tuscany or the South of France.)
This summer we've decided we'll head to Canada, via Niagara Falls, with a few days in Montreal than heading back via Vermont (because we loved it so much in the winter). Although we're not even getting on a plane, this is fairly adventurous compared to what most of my friends are planning (not least because we're driving all the way. With the Littleboys. Are we quite mad?) I've spoken to many people here who have never visited either Canada or Niagara Falls (which is in New York State, on the American side, although a long drive from here). I suppose the equivalent in the UK would be never having visited France, or Scotland.
So I wonder; is it just that we Brits feel a hunger to get away because of our dismal weather? Or are we more natural travellers than the Americans, who seem quite content to stay close to home. Personally what I love about travel is the chance to experience completely different countries and cultures (whatever the weather, although obviously sun helps), not to mention different food. So the idea of only ever staying in your immediate area seems stifling, however good the weather and scenery. I'd love to know what others think, and what it's like in other areas of the States.