Talking about Summer – Staycations & Caravans

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Some things haven’t changed this summer: it’s August, it’s 35 degrees and my office at home has no air conditioning. However, one thing is different: it’s really quiet. We live very close to Frankfurt airport, one of the biggest airports in the world. Normally, there would be a constant stream of planes from 5am to 11pm but at the moment it’s strangely peaceful. Due to Corona, like most of the people I’ve spoken to recently, I won’t be flying anywhere this summer either. This has brought up some interesting conversations about holidays, summer and also some confusion regarding summer English vocabulary. So, here’s some words that are often mixed up.

Holiday, Vacation or Staycation

tropical summer vacation

This is a pretty simple one. To go on holiday is generally British English. We go on holiday in the summer whereas the Americans go on vacation. The big word of summer 2020 however is the staycation. We’re having a staycation this year. Due to the ongoing Corona crisis, a lot of people are choosing not to travel this summer and rather stay at home. A staycation (a combination of the words stay and vacation) can be a holiday you spend at home, maybe in your garden or taking day trips to nearby places. The British also use staycation for a holiday in Britain i.e. not travelling abroad.

Camper, Caravan or RV

This one can be quite confusing if you’re new to the world of “mobile accommodation”. In the past, the Germans often chuckled at the Dutch and their love of caravans but this year, there’s been a boom in all things camping. So, a camper or camper van usually refers to something like the classic VW style van which you drive and can also sleep in. They often have a roof that expands upwards to add more space. A caravan is something you attach to the back of your car and pull (sometimes called a trailer in American English). An RV (recreational vehicle) is a larger vehicle that you drive but also sleep in, sometimes also called a motorhome or a Winnebago (a well-known US brand of motorhome).

Sun Cream, Screen or Lotion

Example of sun cream, sun lotion, sunscreen, sunblock

Sun cream and lotion are pretty general and cover any kind of liquid you rub into your skin to protect yourself from the sun or perhaps help the tanning process. Sunscreen or sunblock are often used for cream/sprays that provide stronger protection from the sun i.e. small children should wear sunblock.

Windbreak, Windbreaker or Strandkorb

If you go to the beach in England, a windbreak is an essential item. It’s basically a sturdy piece of fabric with poles that can be hammered into the sand to provide shelter from the wind (which there’s generally plenty of on a British beach holiday). A windbreaker on the other hand is a light jacket (perhaps also waterproof) that protects you from the wind. The Strandkorb (literally beach basket) is an ingenious German invention. Basically, it’s a wooden seat with extendable footrests, small folding tables and a large hood to provide shade and protection from the wind. They can be rented for a day or a whole week and can be seen all over the beaches of northern Germany. Why these haven’t made it in England yet, I do not know.

Scoop or Soft Serve

And of course, summer wouldn’t be summer without ice cream. While the Germans eat balls of ice cream, the English-speaking world eat scoops. The scoops can be served in a cup or tub or in a cone or waffle cone. Alternatively, ice cream that is served from a machine is called soft ice cream, soft serve or Mr Whippy (a UK brand of this type of ice cream).

Do you agree with the words above? Maybe you know some different expressions. As always, feel free to comment below. And whether you’re having a staycation a vaction or a holiday, stay safe and enjoy!