Lonely Planet Writer


A confession: I am a British national. I have been drunk overseas. On occasion very drunk indeed. To this day I’m not sure if I'm welcome back in Madrid.

It would therefore be a bit rich to pontificate about boozing overseas. But it does seem like we Brits have something of a reputation. Every year the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office releases details of the scrapes that British travellers get into overseas with their British Behaviour Abroad report.

If this year's findings - released today - are anything to go by, British behaviour is typified by getting drunk, getting arrested and losing your passport. Possibly while wearing an amusing hat and eating something greasy.

While more Brits were arrested in Spain (2,290) than any other European country, as a proportion of the number of visitors Britons were most likely to end up in a cell in the UAE, Thailand and USA. If every one of the 29,774 British travellers who lost their passports arrived at London Heathrow and stormed the security barriers, they'd need to scramble on to 53 A380 jets to get away clutching their duty free.

The reasons for these figures are pretty predictable: 33% (is that all?) of us admit to drinking more while on holiday, and drug offences accounted for a big chunk of arrests.

But the FCO has a serious point to make: these numbers are small fry compared to the number of Brits who do get travel insurance, read up on travel advice and have a great trip. There's no reason why you can't combine being tipsy and (mildly) irresponsible with having a great holiday. It's also undeniable that in terms of the percentage of British holidaymakers who go overseas every summer, the numbers who get into trouble are very low.

I'd love your thoughts on this - are Brits really that bad? Are we deluding ourselves that travel, for the majority of people, is about anything other than getting out of your tree? Or can your nation drink Brits under the table on a night out on the Spanish Med and out-sing them in the beer halls of Oktoberfest, rendering this article especially offensive?

~ Tom Hall