Paradise lost: quarter of Brits end up more stressed after their holiday than before

30 July 2015

Poll shows vacations are full of worry as a quarter of Brits take two to three days to relax

Despite a poll showing that the UK spends an average of £1,900 going on holiday, nearly a quarter of people (23%) return back home more stressed than when they started. Additionally, one in four Brits (26%) take two to three days to unwind while around four in ten (38%) feel rundown or ill while away – denting the notion holidays are entirely relaxing.

In fact, it appears that vacations are laden with worry, according to the Nationwide Building Society poll* as more than a third (34%) of people claim they fret about being covered for things like travel insurance if plans go awry. While four in ten (39%) get fidgety about getting to the airport on time and forgetting something (40%).

According to Nationwide’s poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 UK adults, the average holiday taken lasts for nine days. And while more than a quarter (26%) of people take two to three days to truly unwind on holiday, one in ten (10%) take between three to four days to relax – equating to nearly half of their holiday, or the equivalent of a long weekend away.

The top worries highlighted in the survey were:


Going on holiday During holiday Coming back from holiday
Forgetting something 40% Having enough money 29% Getting delayed 32%
Missing flight, ferry, train 39% Overspending on holiday 24% Coming back to reality 32%
Being covered if something goes wrong e.g. travel insurance 34% Whereabouts of money/ bank cards 23% Lost luggage 29%

In addition, the figures show that two in five (38%) holidaymakers claim they’ve been ill or felt rundown once they reach their destination. This is perhaps unsurprising as the survey shows that many people stay ‘switched on’ to life at home while on vacation - two thirds of holidaymakers (80%) use their mobile phone while away; while one third (33%) use them every day and the average person spends an hour a day glued to their phone. Worryingly, over one in seven (15%) still take work calls while on their break.

Nationwide’s research also reveals a significant difference between men and women. A fifth of men (20%) claimed nothing worried them before a holiday, compared to just nine per cent of women. The women surveyed also fretted far more about packing bags, forgetting something, coming back to reality and washing and unpacking than men** (See notes to editors for full gender breakdown).

Phil Smith, Nationwide’s Head of Current Accounts, said: “It is perhaps unsurprising that holidays can be a source of stress, with people fretting over missing their flights, the prospect of delays, having sufficient money and being fully covered if things don’t go to plan. We would always recommend making sure you’ve got all bases covered by taking a good quality travel insurance on its own or as part of a current account, such as Nationwide’s FlexPlus account. That way, if something does go wrong, you’ll have one less thing to worry about, freeing up more time and money to enjoy your summer getaway.”

Renowned neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, Chairman of the research consultancy Mindlab, international, said: “Holiday stresses often stem from unrealistic expectations of a completely care-free vacation. Worries don't disappear just because you are in the sun; in fact when the mind doesn't have the usual day-to-day challenges and demands to cope with, it typically finds other things to occupy it, such as money worries.

“Taking up activities, learning a few phrases in the local language and exploring the culture are just a few ways to keep your mind busy, helping you un-wind more quickly. You can also keep money worries at bay by taking sensible precautions before leaving home, such as remembering to book your travel insurance and making sure you carry cards that charge no commission when abroad.”

Nationwide’s FlexPlus current account, which is ranked as the UK’s best packaged account***, offers a range of benefits including worldwide family travel insurance, commission-free cash withdrawals abroad, worldwide family phone insurance and UK and European breakdown cover, all for just £10 a month.

Notes to Editors

*One Poll research: total sample size was 2,000 UK adults who have been on holiday abroad. The survey ran from the 09/07/2015 to 13/07/2015.

**Top worries before, during and after a holiday by gender:


Women Men Difference
Forgetting something 48% 30% 18%
Packing for the family 28% 11% 17%
Coming back to reality 39% 24% 15%
Family getting sunburnt 24% 9% 15%
Washing and unpacking 27% 14% 13%
Overspending 29% 19% 10%

*** As awarded by Moneynet 2014

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