Changing Travel Habits Within The UK

Published: Tuesday 20th May 2014

The rise of business trips and visiting friends and family

Younger people are more likely to extend business trips into personal holidays, unlike their peers, according to one study. Additionally, 80% of young people. who travel on business, believe that travel reviews are extremely important in making decisions. This coincides with the increasing popularity of travel reviews and review sites, such as TripAdvisor, Hostel World, Holiday Extras and

Holidays, businesses trips and visiting friends have increased, a trend dating back to 2002. Over the years, normal holidays have seen small dips. However, increasing business trips and visiting friends have offset the occasional decline. Recently, business visits (from all regions of the World) have seen a 3.1% increase and those who visit friends or family increased by 6.9%. Business trips tended to be shorter, however this doesn’t take into account young people’s extended business trips into personal holidays.

Introverted travel trends

Recent studies suggest that people are increasingly seeking seclusion when travelling, with 33% of people claiming they’d like to travel solo. Furthermore, 26% of people choose to just travel with friends, rather than partners or spouses. This indicates people want increased independence and freedom whilst they travel. Traditional guided tours are seeing a fall, with 49% of travellers opting to make their own travelling plans, rather than join a tour. Further evidence of people seeking independence and control over their holidays. Perhaps this is because of the rising trust in review sites and social media, allowing people to plan their trips, without the need of a guide.

Faith in social media and reviews

Following on from my two previous points, the rise of social media, web research tools and reviews are dramatic. With more access to information about destinations, accommodation, attractions, restaurants, local history, videos, photos and much more, coupled with social proofing, online recommendations and reviews, savvy travellers believe they don’t need guides and tours to plan their trips successfully, hence the increase in introverted travellers. Many websites now incorporate all the features necessary to plan trips, with local information, social media and reviews deeply integrated.

More overseas visits to the UK

Overseas residents made 3.3% more visits to the UK in 2011 compared with 2010 and stayed for a total of 3.2% more nights with a 6.5% increase in the average spend. These trends have continued through to 2014. Overseas residents made 15.3 million overnight visits to London in 2011 (4% increase). Overnight visits to the rest of England grew by 3.4% in 2011. This demonstrates overseas tourism is increasing and shorter stays (overnight stays) are also on the rise.

Less UK visits abroad

A Mintel study has shown UK residents are taking less overseas holiday, which have continued to fall since 2010 (dropping an estimated 5% per year!). Recent figures from the Office of Nation Statistics (ONS) have also shown travel to long-haul destinations also fell by 5% in 2012, but still remain relatively popular.

Tighter budgets and alternative holidays

Less UK visits abroad are largely due to tighter travelling budgets, “the cost of overseas trips, and environmental issues concerned with flying, are the leading cause of the fall in Brits travelling abroad”. With the economy still fluctuating and money tight, UK travellers are swapping long-haul flights to far-flung hotspots for European city breaks and tourist favourites in the UK (as demonstrated by the ONS above). UK residents stayed 2.0% less on nights and spent 0.4% less on abroad visits. However, most Brits made cut travel costs by holidaying closer to home. Savvy Brits are continuing to search for better value holidays, which are closer to home. However. travellers are still seeking an up market lifestyle without the price tag.

Shorter stays and the rise of the staycation

Rising travel costs could lead to more UK holiday makers choosing less traditional destinations, such as Eastern Europe, which continues to offer good value for money, despite a growing tourism industry. A report has suggested that Brits are searching for better value breaks and there is a growing demand for interesting destinations closer to home. The report also examined the holiday habits of over 10,000 people and showed that ‘staycations’ have jumped by more than 61 per cent this summer, compared to 2012. It’s likely we’ll see Brits continuing to opt to stay in the UK for their holiday (staycation) and enjoying the world class accommodation and attractions the UK has to offer. Especially if it’s sunny like last year!

Increase in obscure and unusual accommodation and destinations

Another trend which is set to transform is accommodation and destination preferences, with many Brits choosing to stay in unusual locations such as lighthouses and windmills. The reason Brits are replacing exotic destinations with obscure local options is because people inherently enjoy holidays because they offer something different to their everyday lives. Therefore, to escape monotony on a budget, people seek strange destinations and accommodation outside their ordinary lives.


An excellent example of changing UK travel habits is the rising popularity of the Shaldon Beach Huts. They’re regular beach huts which have been converted into a luxury holiday homes, overlooking Shaldon beach. They are:

  • Self catering, offering independence to introverted travellers
  • Local (Shaldon, UK), offering holiday makers a domestic alternative
  • Cheap, appealing to tighter budgets
  • Typically let for only a few days / weekend, perfect for the staycation
  • Obscure, appealing to the increasing travellers seeking unusual places to stay