What’s the Percentage of Brits Who Holiday Abroad

by CiCi
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In recent years, the holiday habits of British citizens have been a topic of much interest and study. Understanding these trends is crucial for the travel and tourism industry, as well as for the economic sectors that rely heavily on both domestic and international travel. This article delves into the percentage of Brits who choose to holiday abroad, exploring various factors that influence these decisions, and examining how these trends have evolved over time.

Historical Context and Recent Trends

Traditionally, British citizens have been known for their love of travel. The accessibility of European destinations, the appeal of warmer climates, and the desire to explore new cultures have all contributed to this trend. Historically, countries such as Spain, France, and Italy have been perennial favorites among British holidaymakers. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 58% of Brits traveled abroad at least once a year. This figure highlights the significant role that international travel plays in the British lifestyle.


Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted travel patterns worldwide, and the UK was no exception. In 2020, the number of Brits traveling abroad plummeted due to travel restrictions, health concerns, and economic uncertainties. Data from the ONS indicated a dramatic drop, with only 23% of Brits managing to travel abroad during the height of the pandemic. This sharp decline underscored the vulnerabilities in the travel sector and highlighted a temporary shift towards domestic holidays.


The Post-Pandemic Landscape

As the world emerges from the pandemic, the travel industry is gradually recovering. In 2022, the percentage of Brits holidaying abroad began to rise again, reaching approximately 45%. This rebound, while significant, still fell short of pre-pandemic levels, reflecting ongoing caution among travelers and the lingering effects of economic challenges.

Factors Influencing International Travel

Several factors influence whether Brits choose to holiday abroad or stay within the UK. These factors include economic conditions, exchange rates, political stability, and global events.

  1. Economic Conditions: Economic stability and disposable income levels play a crucial role in travel decisions. During periods of economic prosperity, more Brits can afford to travel abroad. Conversely, during economic downturns, domestic holidays often become more appealing due to their relatively lower cost.
  2. Exchange Rates: The strength of the British pound against other currencies can significantly affect the affordability of international travel. A strong pound makes travel to countries within the Eurozone or to the United States more attractive, while a weaker pound can have the opposite effect.
  3. Political Stability and Safety Concerns: Political events and safety concerns in potential destination countries also influence travel decisions. Regions experiencing political unrest or natural disasters see a decline in British tourists, while stable and safe destinations attract more visitors.
  4. Travel Restrictions and Regulations: Changes in travel regulations, such as visa requirements and health-related travel advisories, can impact the willingness and ability of Brits to travel abroad. The Brexit referendum and subsequent changes in travel regulations have introduced new considerations for travel within Europe.

Popular Destinations for British Travelers

Despite the various influencing factors, some destinations consistently remain popular among British holidaymakers. Spain, with its sunny climate and affordable holiday packages, tops the list. Other favored destinations include France, with its proximity and cultural appeal; Italy, renowned for its history and cuisine; and the United States, offering diverse experiences from New York City to the beaches of Florida.

Demographic Influences on Travel Habits

Different demographic groups within the UK display varying travel preferences. Age, family status, and income levels all play a role in shaping holiday choices.

  1. Age: Younger Brits, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, are more likely to seek adventure and cultural experiences abroad. In contrast, older adults may prefer the comfort and familiarity of domestic holidays.
  2. Family Status: Families with young children often choose holiday destinations based on convenience and child-friendly amenities. All-inclusive resorts in Spain and theme parks in France are particularly popular among this group.
  3. Income Levels: Higher-income individuals tend to travel abroad more frequently and to more distant destinations. In contrast, those with lower incomes may prioritize cost-saving measures, such as choosing domestic destinations or traveling during off-peak seasons.

The Rise of Staycations

The concept of the “staycation” gained significant traction during the pandemic. A staycation involves spending vacation time at home or nearby rather than traveling abroad. This trend has continued post-pandemic, with many Brits rediscovering the beauty and attractions within their own country. The UK offers a wide range of holiday options, from the scenic countryside of the Lake District to the vibrant cities of London and Edinburgh.

Environmental Considerations

Environmental awareness is another factor that is increasingly influencing travel choices. The environmental impact of air travel has led some Brits to reconsider their holiday plans, opting instead for more sustainable travel options. Train travel within Europe, for example, has gained popularity as a greener alternative to flying.

The Role of Technology in Travel Planning

Advancements in technology have transformed the way Brits plan and book their holidays. Online travel agencies, review sites, and travel apps provide a wealth of information and make it easier to compare prices and book trips. Social media also plays a significant role, with platforms like Instagram and Facebook inspiring travel destinations through stunning visuals and travel blogs.

The Future of British Travel Abroad

Looking ahead, the future of British travel abroad is likely to be shaped by several emerging trends and considerations.

  1. Sustainable Travel: As environmental concerns continue to rise, sustainable travel practices will become more prevalent. This includes choosing eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local economies, and reducing carbon footprints through mindful travel choices.
  2. Flexible Travel Plans: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of flexibility in travel plans. Travel insurance, refundable bookings, and flexible itineraries are likely to remain important to British travelers.
  3. Health and Safety Priorities: Health and safety will continue to be top priorities for travelers. Enhanced cleaning protocols, health screenings, and reliable travel insurance will be key considerations for those planning international trips.
  4. Technological Innovations: The travel industry will continue to leverage technology to enhance the travel experience. From virtual reality tours to AI-driven travel planning, technology will play a crucial role in shaping the future of travel.


In conclusion, the percentage of Brits who holiday abroad has seen significant fluctuations over the past few years, influenced by economic conditions, global events, and personal preferences. While the love for international travel remains strong, the rise of staycations and environmental considerations are reshaping travel habits. As the world continues to recover from the pandemic, it will be interesting to see how these trends evolve and what new patterns emerge in the travel behavior of British citizens.

By understanding these trends and the factors that influence travel decisions, the travel and tourism industry can better cater to the needs and preferences of British travelers. Whether opting for a sunny beach in Spain, a cultural tour of Italy, or a scenic staycation in the UK, Brits will continue to seek out diverse and enriching holiday experiences.

Related topics:

Is There a British National Holiday?

The Major Holidays in the United Kingdom

Best British Holiday Resorts


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