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The Guardian view on summer holidays: the changing search for elsewhere | Editorial

Travel restrictions have put great pressure on our familiar ways of taking time off. This could be a moment for different solutions

One consequence of the UK government positing a possible date for the reopening of foreign travel but then, quite responsibly, refusing to confirm it is an anxious frenzy. What to do about the summer? Would-be tourists, and the significant percentage of people with family abroad, are like athletes awaiting a starting gun, weighing up strategies, itching to get started the instant anything positive is announced, and ready to fight everyone else to the most desirable places. With self-catering holidays in England allowed from this week – equivalent rules in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are loosening too – competition for UK holidays is stiff, particularly in July and August. Is Cornwall really almost full? Is there anything left in the Highlands?

A summer holiday is a precious thing, a “calendrical rite”, as the social anthropologist Kate Fox has described it. It is liberation, a suspended and regenerative space underlined by being elsewhere. Away, one can relax, be more spontaneous, try on personas (or at least outfits) one would never otherwise wear. “One felt another person, one was another person,” as Leo puts it, in LP Hartley’s novel The Go-Between.

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