These were always on the menu (as requested by my dad). Because a picnic wasn’t a picnic without boiled eggs, and a day trip certainly wasn’t a day trip without a picnic. As a greedy kid, with an appetite for adventure, the food was one of my favourite parts. From nanny’s chicken to mum’s sandwiches, cartons of juice and fish and chips by the sea. The memories of my childhood day trips are etched onto my tongue and forever savoured.
Day trips were our family thing. From road trips as a then family of four to cosy girls’ days with mum and nan and big showstoppers involving a coachful of cousins - day trips were our holidays. We toured the UK moving from city to city, visiting beauty spots and beach towns, each time returning home at the end of the day with a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of togetherness and pairs of tired legs that needed to be carried up to bed.
The day trip felt embedded into the fabric of being West Indian in the UK. When the West Indian diaspora migrated here, we mostly settled in Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, London & Manchester. Day trips kept the community together. Hoping on a coach and travelling to another part of the country to attend a wedding, sing happy birthday, dance at a carnival or celebrate the birth of a new family member was the norm. It was my parents' norm and something which was naturally absorbed into the fabric of our family.
I was 6 years old before I went abroad and 14 before I set foot on a plane again. In between these, there were too many day trips to count. As I got older, the true travel bug took over, and I shamelessly shunned my day-trip routes for £1 Ryanair flights and backpacking through Asia.
But when the world turned upside down and overseas travel once again became as sporadic as it was in my childhood, it was the humble day trip that allowed me to exercise my sense of adventure. So here I am today, a 30-something woman of West Indian descent learning to champion the art of the day trip once again.
And to be clear - I’m talking day trip here, not it’s sexier American cousin, The Staycation. The cost of staycation can quickly rack up - once you’ve factored in accommodation & eating out. If you want to get a bargain, you really need to book ahead but then you're beholden to the unpredictability of UK weather. With a day trip, you can literally go wherever the wind blows without it costing a bomb. I’m fortunate enough to live in London where you can still snag a last-minute train ticket to Brighton for under £20 return.
Nowadays I’ve swapped Skyscanner for The Train Line. I’ve hopped on trains to travel 90 mins out of London just to sit in a friends garden for the day. Met in the middle of the country to explore historic buildings for an afternoon. Wandered to the coast and eaten copious amounts of freshly fried doughnuts and visited new villages to check out what delights they’ve got to offer.
My favourite trip of the summer was a solo excursion to Margate. I walked along the beach, browsed the vintage shops, sipped a glass of wine on a rooftop overlooking the waves, caught some incredible exhibitions at the Tate and watched the most beautiful sunset by the beach whilst waiting for my fish and chip dinner. All this, and I was still back home and tucked up in bed by 10PM.
Whilst I might prefer to snack on quail eggs with truffle mayo (thank you, Waitrose), my love of the day trip (and the food that comes with it) is returning with a vengeance. Stick a pin in the map on this tiny island and go somewhere new - taking it one day at a time might surprise you.