Collage of eight small photos
Sunday Stills,  Themed galleries,  Travel in general

Gallery: should I stay or should I go?

One thing I learned during the pandemic was that it is possible to have a good time holidaying in my own country. With travel abroad impossible we turned to UK options and managed to have several lovely short trips in the spaces between lockdowns. And of course like everyone, we explored our immediate area more thoroughly than in the past, seeking out places we’d never previously visited or finding new surprises in old haunts.

For Terri’s Sunday Stills ‘Staycation or vacation’ theme I want to share some pairs of photos, one taken in the UK and one somewhere abroad. My aim is to highlight some of the similarities but also plenty of differences between these two distinct travel experiences.


Large dark pink flower
Magnolia flower, Ealing
Bright pink flowers against a dark background
Bougainvillea in Laos


Trees with bright yellow leaves
Ruislip Woods, late autumn
Path between tall bright green trees
In the Hoh Rainforest, Washington State


Shingle beach with low cliffs
The beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset
Grey beach with off-shore rock formations
Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland


Waterfall of brownish water
Hardraw Force, Yorkshire
Waterfall among trees
Lower Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier NP, WA


View across green fields
Looking towards Glastonbury Tor from the Mendips near Cheddar
Green hills and distant mountains
Landscape near Lake Arenal, Costa Rica


Sunset sky with trees and rooftops
Sunset from our back garden in Ealing
Terrace with people drinking silhouetted against orange sky
Sunset at Lagarta Lodge, Costa Rica


Grey bird by a lake
Heron at Osterley Park, west London
Large grey bird in a tree
Goliath Heron near Mandina Lodge, Gambia


Green bird eating a nut in a tree
Parakeet in St James’ Park, London
Red parrot in a tree
Scarlet Macaw, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica


Tortoiseshell and white cat
Neighbourhood cat, Ealing
Lion looking directly into camera
Lion in Chobe National Park, Botswana


Large deer with antlers grazing
Red Deer, Studley Royal Deer Park, Yorkshire
Spotted deer licking its back
Chital Deer, Ranthambore NP, Rajasthan


Wooden sculptures of elephants
Elephants in Green Park, London
Faces of reddish brown elephants
Baby elephants at the David Sheldrick orphanage in Nairobi

Wildlife at sea

Head of a seal in the sea
Seal near the Farne Islands, off England’s north east coast
Whale's tale
Humpback whale near Cano Island, Costa Rica


Ruined castle wall on a hill
Warkworth Castle, Northumberland
Ruined temple surrounded by trees
Banteay Kdei, Angkor, Cambodia


Cathedral with square towers on a lawn with trees
Wells Cathedral, Somerset
Looking along a wide cobbled street to a cathedral with green and gold domes
The Orthodox Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria

Statues of the famous

Statue of a man leaning against a wall
Statue of John Lennon, Liverpool
Statue of a man kneeling and playing guitar
Statue of Jimi Hendrix in Seattle

Colourful doors

Yellow door with painting of a puffin
Cottage door in St Ives, Cornwall
Orange door with hand shaped silver knocker
Door detail, Tavira, Portugal

I really don’t know what I’ve proved here! I’ve shown that you can find similar things close to home and far away. And yet … give me far away any day! Is it the lack of familiarity? Is it the search for the new and different? Yes, it is those things. But in the end it comes down to a sense of adventure that attaches to a foreign trip, and the more foreign the better.

While I can still travel abroad I will. But I do so in the knowledge that there remains plenty to discover closer to home when/if the time comes to tuck my passport away for good.

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.

Robert Louis Stevenson


  • maristravels

    What wonderful comparisons, Sarah, even if some of your pictures didn’t show up on my screen – Grey bird by a Lake, Head of a Seal in the Sea and Orange Door. The idea for these comparisons was a brilliant stroke as well.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Mari. I seem to be having problems with images displaying on my site as you’re the second person to comment and sometimes I can’t see them myself. I’m not sure what the issue is, I’ll have to investigate if I can!

  • SoyBend

    Nice idea for a post, Sarah! People often forget to look nearby for sights to see. I liked those elephant sculptures a lot. Also liked the Hoh rain forest picture from my corner of the world. 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Siobhan, but I must credit Terri with the inspiration behind this idea 🙂 I loved the Hoh Rainforest, so very green! But then, I loved all the landscapes of that trip, from the Olympic Peninsula coast to Mount Rainier and the Cascades!

  • leightontravels

    Mmm, some lovely combinations. One takeaway is how well the UK holds up against more, shall we say, exotic locations. if you were to take away the captions, for example, perhaps it isn’t so easy (in some cases) to identify which one is from The UK. The heron shots are particularly pleasing, very nicely done. The Lennon statue from outside The Cavern Pub always makes me smile.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      You’re right, the UK holds up well in some respects – primarily scenery and history, I would argue. Our wildlife is lovely but not very dramatic (nothing very large or very dangerous!) and our culture perhaps too familiar to provide many novel experiences or in-depth learning about the wider world.

  • ResinRapture

    What a lovely comparison. I like your back yard sunset better :). There are probably a lot of people who know far away places much better than the lovely spots in their own country. Pity, really. And staycation is certainly environmentally friendly!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Interesting! I would take the sunset on the shores of the Pacific any day over one dipping beneath suburban rooftops! I’m very happy living in London but I’d hate not to travel and experience the rest of the world. I do agree about the environmental concerns and we need to find ways of addressing those, but the world would be a sadder and even more fractured place if no one had the chance to experience how and where others live.

      • ResinRapture

        You are right, but there’s so much to discover in a country that people shouldn’t neglect what a country has to offer just for the sake of going abroad, don’t you think?

      • ResinRapture

        Oh, just to add and clarify: Your approach to travelling and what you experience is certainly different from the kind of travelling abroad I was thinking of when I wrote that. Like meeting your neighbors in Benidorm and just see the hotel and the beach.

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Oh yes, on that we can completely agree 🙂 I can never see the point of travelling and then trying to find an environment as close to that of your home as you can – English food, English pubs, English people to talk to. If that’s what you want from a holiday, stay close to home! We don’t travel for the sake of going abroad or simply for the better weather as many do (although a winter break is certainly welcome!). We travel to find new and different experiences, to see different landscapes and different architecture, to engage with different cultures and try to understand them better – whether that’s in North Korea or among the hill tribes of Laos!

  • Annie Berger

    Brilliant, brilliant post showing the beauty close to home as well as far away, Sarah! Although I’m the daughter of an Englishwoman and have been to England many times, you demonstrated how little I know of my mother’s country.

    Great quote at the end – something we should all take to heart.

  • Amy

    Wonderful to see the comparisons through your beautiful images! Where it’s a nearby or afar travel, it brings us wonderful excitement. I certainly feel that through your travel adventures. 🙂

  • rosalieann37

    It is easier to find differences than to find similarities. As I was looking at your wonderful photos, I realized that I was looking at the differences between the two photos, and taking the sameness for granted. For instance I noticed how much more mountainous and rugged the scene in Costa Rica was vs the one in England. It is more important to find points of correspondence for people of course. There’s no problem with differences in photos.

    To your main point that it is possible to ‘travel’ without going very far, I agree absolutely. The first 20 years of our married life, we moved 14 times. And I found that if I didn’t see the local sights/sites right away, that I never got to them. So I made a point of it – in those days with no internet, I think I probably used the AAA book to figure out what to see. When I was living south of Philadelphia for 9 months in 1969, we visited over 20 different local sites.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Such a good idea Rosalie to visit the sights in your new home area as soon as possible – as you say, once settled you are much less likely to do so. That was very true of us and London, but we find now we’re retired (and entitled to free travel passes!) we do more exploring there again, although not usually the ‘big’ sights 🙂

      I’m glad you picked up on the differences between the English landscape and the Costa Rican one. Others have commented on the similarities but you’re right, the Costa Rican one is far more rugged. I think the greenness they share is deceptive.

  • Alison

    Hi Sarah, how strange I was thinking of that exact same title!
    Great comparisons, I think going away is more fun too, for me it’s getting on a plane.
    Will have to check out those elephants in Green Park next time I’m in the UK

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I’m not sure what the issue was when you tried to comment Marilyn – I was offline at the time as it was the middle of the night here! But when I got up I found all your comments successfully posted – I didn’t have to moderate them or anything, they were all here. So I really can’t understand what was going wrong and why you didn’t see them here too? Very odd! But it does seem to be working OK now, thankfully 🙂

  • Pat

    Very nice post, Sarah. It is nice to have the means and freedom to do what your soul longs for – either learning more about your home country or others.

  • VT starship

    Sarah, you may have asked one of the most difficult questions that any passionate traveler must deal with — ‘should I stay or should I go?’ The answer HAS to be that we must do both if at all possible!! I feel that way even though I have traveled abroad more this year than I have at home! I love all your photos here!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Lovely to hear from you Sylvia 😊 And yes, ideally both for sure! Travelling in our own country helps us to appreciate it more, travelling abroad helps us to understand how the world works, and how much we have in common with people from very different cultures even while understanding and enjoying our differences 🙂 Good to know you’ve been travelling a lot this year – but I don’t think I’ve seen any new blog posts recently??

  • Tanja

    great comparisons, and yes we can have great trips in our own countries but the pull of foreign…it is different experience after all:)

  • restlessjo

    The skies are full of planes here again, Sarah, and I do wonder about the cost to the environment, but we’ve grown so used to the abilty to travel. You’ve seen some wonderful sights, near and far.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Same here Jo. We live quite near Heathrow and it seems normal to see planes flying over at regular intervals – I missed them during the pandemic’s height when all I saw was the occasional cargo plane. I agree about the environmental costs but with all the benefits that travel brings (economically and culturally) I hope they can find a way to make flying greener and more sustainable.

  • Rose

    Wonderful comparisons. I laughed at the cat comparison, we had a calico kitty and she was as intimidating as a lion to strangers. I found the Cheddar and Costa Rica similarity very interesting. I love to (re)discover the area I live in, but as you suggest there’s something fantastic about having adventures in unfamiliar lands.

  • Anne Sandler

    Great post Sarah. There is much to see at home if you know where to look. When I started photography, I was amazed at what was around the Sacramento area. With a country as large as the U.S., it’s easy to experience many climates, geographical changes, and different customs. It’s also great to travel and experience even more. Thank you for taking me to countries I doubt I’ll get to. I’ve enjoyed them all. And I enjoyed the comparisons in this post.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Anne. You’re so right about the US – we’ve found on our different road trips that the individual states vary so much geographically, you might well be in a different country at times! Think of the Pacific NW / Utah Canyonlands / Everglades / New England 😮 But I do feel if possible that it’s good at times to encounter completely different cultures from your own, which is something that probably only foreign travel can offer? So glad you enjoy my virtual tours!


    I do, as you know, love a music reference. Your headline, courtesy of The Clash, was exactly the headline we used when the UK Govt first removed travel restrictions in July 2020. We went for “go” and ended up in Croatia. As for the “no-travel” periods, we explored our immediate area until it was no longer interesting!! Our UK trips were great and we saw some lovely places, but I have to say that the memories are a bit tainted by working around all of the stupid and inconsistent COVID rules we had at the time. Sitting outside in overcoats shivering while we had a pint, for a start!!

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    Oh I so enjoyed your staycation and vacation comparisons, Sarah! Incredibly clever to show us the similarities! I chuckled at the elephant comparison, but to see the statues are pretty cool, not to mention the real deal! I was floored by your views of Cheddar and Costa Rica–just goes to show you how much the earth resembles itself in so many other latitudes. Keep traveling, my friend!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Terri 🙂 I hoped the elephants would make people smile! Those two landscapes are interesting – in reality they looked very different but because they are both so green they look more alike in the photos.

  • Yvonne Dumsday

    What great fun you must have had in putting that compilation together. Many thanks for sharing with us.

  • margaret21

    I love these pairings. Yes, it’s good to know that there are adventures to be had close to home , but … it’s still exciting to travel and discover foreign parts.

      • Marilyn Armstrong

        I can’t comment on your post. I don’t know why. I thought maybe I could comment in a reply, but this is my last try. Sometimes, you just have to give up. I don’t know what the problem it.

        • Marilyn Armstrong

          Okay, so I can comment in a reply, but not as a comment. Well, that’s better than nothing. You have an amazing number of truly extraordinary pictures. Are those carved elephants life-size? There are so many good ones — just wonderful!

          • Sarah Wilkie

            Glad you found this work-around but I’m at a loss to know what the issue was, as all your comments were here as they should be by the time I got up this morning. If they were invisible overnight that’s a real mystery!! See my reply to your other comment above about the elephants for a link to my original post about them – they are indeed life-size!

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