The average British holidaymaker - how we love to spend our summers in 2016

1 August 2016

  • Poll identifies typical Brit abroad on 175th anniversary of the first package holiday
  • Average Brit spends 10 per cent of annual salary on their holiday
  • Despite packing two bottles of sun cream, more than two thirds end up burnt
  • One in 12 never bothers with travel insurance regardless of destination
  • Nearly a third of Brits will have a holiday romance and one in 20 will marry as a result

From Shirley Valentine to the Inbetweeners and Benidorm, the classic summer holiday for Brits abroad has been parodied on the big and small screen for decades, and while they may be a bit far-fetched, some of the comedy capers and clichés still ring true for many of us.

New research1 from Nationwide FlexPlus – the UK’s top rated packaged account – was conducted to mark the 175th anniversary of the first packaged holiday. The poll of more than 2,000 UK holidaymakers reveals that people still very much enjoy a package holiday, still fancy a pint in the bar before take-off, struggle with the local lingo, get so burnt they can’t leave their hotel room, and even take the risk of holidaying without travel insurance.

The research shows that more than one in ten (11%) Brits enjoy three or more holidays per year, with seven days (31%), two weeks (25%) and 10 days (13%) the most popular length of time to enjoy some time away. While city breaks (50%) and beach hotels (43%) are the most popular types of holidays these days, more than a third (35%) of adults still enjoy an all-inclusive package holiday deal.

When it comes to purchasing a holiday, the average Brit will spend 10 per cent of their annual salary on their holiday, while one in ten (10%) will spend anything between 20 and 30 per cent of their yearly income.

Who’s coming with us?

Holidays are becoming an even bigger family affair as, according to Nationwide’s poll, around two thirds (65%) have gone on a big family holiday (i.e. grandparents, aunts/uncles, kids and grandkids), while more than a third (35%) intend to take a ‘multi-generational’ family holiday over the next 12 months. More than seven in ten (71%) admit that ‘multi-generational’ holidays are useful as the grandparents can look after the children, while three quarters (75%) believe they are appealing because it’s a chance for the whole family to come together.

Ensuring we’re insured?

The Nationwide survey surprisingly shows Brits are complacent when it comes to travel insurance as one in 12 (8%) would not bother with travel insurance regardless of where they were going. When it comes to locations, Brits are most likely to get travel cover for North America (71%). However, only around a fifth (21%) would purchase travel insurance for a holiday in the UK. This despite around a fifth (18%) admitting they have lost luggage before. While more than one in ten (11%) got it back while on holiday, some people have had to borrow clothes or wear the same clothes through the entire holiday. Others have even resorted to washing their clothes in the hotel sink.

Location % of Brits that would take out travel insurance
North America 71%
Africa 70%
Western Europe (minus UK) 70%
Asia 69%
South America 69%
Eastern Europe 68%
Australia/Oceania 67%
Antarctica 64%
UK 21%

From packing to panicking

Once the holiday is booked, one in 14 (6%) Brits are so eager to go that they start packing a fortnight before they’re due to leave, while a quarter (25%) start packing at least a week before. On the other hand, six per cent will leave it until within the last 24 hours, with nearly a third (31%) waiting until two days before departure.

And when it comes to what goes in that suitcase, we’re a nation of over-packers, with the Society’s research showing that for a typical seven-day holiday, the average Brit takes:

  • Six pairs of socks
  • Seven t-shirts
  • Four pairs of shorts
  • Two swimsuits
  • Eight pairs of underwear
  • Two pairs of sandals
  • Two towels
  • One pair of sunglasses
  • One hat
  • Two pairs of trainers/shoes
  • One jumper
  • One bottle of insect repellent
  • Two bottles of sun cream

Brits will even take items with them that remind them of home creature comforts, with around one in ten (9%) admitting they take tea bags with them. Other ‘homely’ items to go on holiday include: a family photo (6%), a teddy bear (6%), a pillow/pillow case (4%) and even spreads, sauces and preserves (3%).

In fact, before even reaching the destination, Brits have already spent on average nearly £100 on clothing and toiletries for the holiday. Yet, many people still go into a mad panic of having forgotten something when they get to the airport and end up spending on average just over £40. More than half of Brits (54%) need to buy last-minute toiletries at the airport, while one in eight (13%) always buy the local currency last minute. After the panic is over, nearly a third of Brits will always shop around in duty free, while more than one in five (22%) ensure they make time for a pre-holiday drink in the airport bar.

On arrival

While many of us love to explore the cultural side of a destination and enjoy activities, almost two in five (39%) admit that all they want to do on holiday is flop by the pool or beach all day. To cap off the day, more than a quarter (27%) love nothing better than to watch the hotel entertainment every night. More than one in ten (11%) admit to embarrassing themselves and their families by joining in the entertainment.

When they do venture out, 17% of Brits abroad have under or overpaid for things, 11% have made a classic ‘language gaffe’ when conversing with the locals, while around one in ten (9%) have got so lost they didn’t get back until dark.

Despite packing bottles of sun cream, more than two thirds (68%) end up getting burned. In fact, slightly less than one in ten (8%) have got so burned they’ve been unable to leave their hotel room.

Almost one in three (30%) Brits have had a holiday romance and, while one in seven say it was just a holiday fling, almost one in 20 (four per cent) married their holiday romance.

Holiday expenditure

According to Nationwide’s poll, the average Brit spends around £40 per day while on holiday. However, Brits have a laissez-faire attitude to holiday finances with nearly three in ten (29%) admitting that they are not going to worry about money because they are on vacation. While local currency remains the pre-eminent form of holiday funds for people abroad (65%), almost a third (31%) will use their credit card, while four in ten (40%) will use their debit card.

Dan King, Nationwide’s Head of FlexPlus, comments: "The classic British summer holiday has been the staple diet for well over a century and continues to be extremely popular. It’s important that we jump off the hamster wheel to enjoy one or two weeks each year where we can relax and switch off. Family is also a key part of that holiday period as well with more than a third of people planning to take a ‘multi-generational’ holiday over the next 12 months.

"That said, it’s always best to be prepared, with the stats showing that many of us have lost luggage and got badly sunburnt in addition to an array of other precarious situations. The fact is you never know when you might have a flight cancelled, lose something or have an accident while on holiday. It’s therefore important to have the right level of travel insurance before going away.

"Anyone taking out Nationwide’s packaged account, FlexPlus, will be able to enjoy a relaxing holiday knowing they are already covered as the account comes with worldwide travel insurance. In addition, FlexPlus also comes with commission-free cash withdrawals and for those Brits that like to put holiday spending on the plastic, Nationwide’s Select Credit Card also offers commission-free purchases abroad."

Notes to Editors

1The poll of 2,017 UK adults who holiday abroad was carried out by Opinion Matters, and took place between 20 and 22 July 2016.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

Please note: If you are a customer looking for information on our products and services, please visit the main website.