Lonely Planet Writer

From beach holidays to budget airlines: 100 years of British travel

An infographic shows the dramatic way in which British travel trends have changed over the space of a hundred years.

British holiday trends over the years
British holiday trends over the years Image by Citybase aApartments

The colourful and cute infographic was put together on the back of a survey carried out by Citybase Apartments, who offer serviced apartments in major UK cities. The company was researching where and how British people are holidaying domestically, but the survey reveals a whole lot more interesting trivia and an insight into the history of British holidays.

The infographic reads “Over the past 100 years British holidaying habits have evolved considerably  but just what has changed?”

British holidaying trends over the past 100 years
British holidaying trends over the past 100 years Image by Citybase apartments

The infographic starts from the pre 1920s and goes through to our 20-ten years.

It describes how few people travelled pre 1920s, and how with the invention of the League of Nations the standardised passports were introduced into travel.

The most popular destinations at the time were Berlin and Paris which were both enjoying a moment of social liberation and were favoured by fashionable sets that made them desirable. However, for most British travellers the English beach continued to be the most popular destination.

Butlin's popular poster
Butlin’s popular poster Image by Jelltex

The infographic then moves into complicated years of the 30s and 40s, which saw the advent of war in Europe and the rise of ‘Butlins’ established in the 1930s by Billy Butlin. Butlins were popular holiday camps established during the war to offer safe and affordable holidays to normal British families. They have since become somewhat notorious, but during the war years they were one of the main options for a family wishing to holiday. Beach holidays remain the most popular type of holiday among the British.

The 1950s saw the travel industry truly take off. Charter planes were allowed for the first time in history and by the mid 50s 25 million Brits were going on a package holiday.

The 60s saw the number of Brits holidaying abroad hit 5 million, whilst services such as travel insurance and holiday busses were improved.

The number of holiday makers doubled in 70s, going up 10 million, whilst beach holidays cemented themselves in pole position as the most popular type of holiday in Britain, attracting almost 40 million people.

The 80s saw the rise of hotels, whilst self-catering flats remained the most popular type of holiday accommodation in the early 80s. Surprisingly seaside holidays hit an all time low in 1987.

1999o's brought with it proseprity
1999o’s brought with it proseprity Image by https://www.citybaseapartments.com/

1992 saw the rise of road trips with 79 million British travellers choosing to travel to and from their holiday by car. Spain becomes the most popular destination by the end of the 90s.

The noughties saw the number of British travellers booking package holidays fall from 56% to 37%. By the early noughties 43 million people travelled abroad, most of them going to Spain and France. The cost of a passport went up to £90 by 2009, compared to the £5 of the 1970s.

Two lone deckchairs stand on a near deserted Brighton beach. The number of people visiting the UK coastline for a day out each year has fallen by around a third in the past decade,
Two lone deckchairs stand on a near deserted Brighton beach. The number of people visiting the UK coastline for a day out each year has fallen by around a third in the past decade, Image by ndrew Matthews/PA Wire

The 20-tens on the other hand were characterised by a mild decline in the numbers travelling, although only 8% of Brits said they couldn’t afford a holiday. The 20-tens also saw a return to the popularity of package holidays.

The survey overall gives a fascinating insight into how world events, fashion, the market as well as the availability of cheap transportation.