British Holiday Habits: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As passports come out of storage for the summer holidays, we thought we should dive into the habits and tensions of British holidaymakers. Babbel surveyed 1,000 adults in the United Kingdom who travel for leisure to uncover their stress points, preferences, habits, and behaviours when it comes to holidaying. 

The survey paints a vivid picture of how Brits plan, experience, and navigate their vacations, shedding light on common anxieties, the impact of social media, and the dynamics of family travel. Here’s what we found out.

Holiday Arguments

Spending endless hours with loved ones can turn sunny holidays into stormy affairs. One in five (20%) Brits have experienced a relationship breakdown with a partner due to holiday arguments, while another 21% have severed ties with a friend over a holiday spat. Family trips aren’t immune either: 18% of respondents say they are now estranged from a family member after a holiday row. 

Minor disagreements often lead to bust-ups, with the most common causes being “getting lost or disagreements over directions” (22%), “choosing where to eat” (20%), and “deciding what to do each day" (19%). Men seem more prone to the lasting effects of conflict, with a quarter of men reporting romantic breakups post-holiday, compared to only 15% of women.

Pre-Trip Anxiety

Stress doesn’t wait until you arrive at your destination. A hefty 30% of Brits have changed plans or cancelled a trip due to pre-travel anxiety. The top cause? Not knowing the language of the destination, which 18% of Brits admit causes them anxiety. Despite this, 62% make no attempt to learn the local language before departure.

That said, 38% of Brits do make the effort to learn some language before travelling, and 25-34 year olds are the most proactive, with nearly two thirds (63%) taking some time to study. Those 65 and older are the least likely, with only 21% preparing linguistically. Men are generally more proactive than women, with 46% of men compared to 31% of women making an effort, and the majority of learners start their preparation between one month and one week before their departure.

Staycations vs. Getaways

While the allure of exotic destinations remains strong, domestic travel remains popular, with over a third (36%) of Brits planning a staycation in the United Kingdom in the next 12 months. For those heading abroad, Spain tops the list, with 18% planning to visit in the next year. Other popular international destinations include France, Greece, Italy, Germany, and the United States.

Work and Play

Holidays are a licence to let loose for some Brits: 8% believe they are more likely to drink excessively or take intoxicants on holiday than at home. This can lead to drunken disputes, however, with 10% of Brits admitting to holiday tensions due to alcohol—a higher percentage than other European neighbours. 

Meanwhile, 17% constantly check in on work while away, with Gen Z being the most plugged-in generation—27% of 18- to 25-year-olds consider keeping tabs on work important while on holiday, compared to less than 1% of those aged 55 and up.

Brits Abroad: Habits and Quirks

When it comes to mixing with fellow tourists, 29% of Brits prefer to avoid other Brits and English-speaking tourists. In fact, 7% of Brits assume a different persona or nationality while on holiday! Immersing in local culture is a priority for 63% of Brits, and over half (56%) are more likely to try new cuisines abroad than at home. 

Getting into the holiday spirit, 27% are more generous with tips and spending, 24% are up for adventurous activities, and 15% experiment with fashion. The nightlife scene is also a big draw, with 24% considering it essential to a holiday. 

The Social Media Effect

Social media heavily influences Brits’ travel plans, with 40% using it to research destinations. Once there, 11% post more frequently than at home, and 17% consider creating social content a key part of their holiday. Men, in particular, are more inclined to consider creating social content important (23% of men and 13% of women). Despite this, 39% of Brits value a digital detox while on holiday, choosing to switch off and soak up the experience without distractions.

Preparing for a Better Holiday

As you prepare for your summer getaway, remember that a little language learning can go a long way in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable holiday. From reducing pre-trip anxiety to avoiding holiday arguments, understanding the local language and culture can enhance your travel experience and help you avoid common mistakes.

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