Travel money statistics

Discover the latest travel money statistics from the UK.

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Everyone loves going on holiday, but just how many Brits travel abroad? And how do they manage their money when they do?

We all have that friend who pretends to be Scrooge McDuck when on holiday and that other one who’d happily eat at McDonald’s every day just to save a few extra quid. What’s the middle ground? How much are Brits spending when abroad? We dived into the latest statistics to find out.

Quick overview

  • Brits made over 93.1 million trips abroad in 2019, up 3% compared to 2018.
  • Brits spent 7% more abroad than they did in 2018, totalling £62.3 billion in 2019.
  • The most common reasons for travelling abroad were for holidays, accounting for 58.7 million of our trips.
  • The two next most popular reasons for travelling were visiting friends and family (23.5 million) and business trips (9 million).
  • The most popular travel destination was Spain, making up 30% of all trips.
  • There were over 18.1 million trips made to Spain in 2019, almost 8 million more than the second most popular destination (France).
  • UK holidaymakers spend almost £1 billion a year at airports just to “get rid” of foreign currency.
  • 40.9 million people visited the UK in 2019 and they spent £28.4 billion while here.

Where do we visit?

With over 93 million trips made in 2019, it’s safe to say Brits love to explore the world. 5.6 million trips were made to North America, with 4.8 million of those to the USA and 757,000 to Canada. In total, 72.5 million trips were to Europe and 3.4 million trips were made to African countries, with Morocco the most popular destination in the continent.

Our most popular holiday destination is Spain, with over 18.1 million trips made in 2019, 2.5 million more trips than in 2018 (15.6 million). The second most popular destination for Brits is France, as 10.3 million trips were made over the English Channel.

France may be a popular destination for Brits as the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle has made it easier to travel across. Taking 35 minutes platform to platform, 11 million people used the tunnel in 2019.

Country Number of visits
Spain 18,129,000
France 10,347,000
Italy 5,105,000
USA 4,805,000
Republic of Ireland 4,786,000
Netherlands 3,573,000
Greece 3,438,000
Germany 3,375,000
Portugal 3,311,000
Poland 3,231,000

Total spending abroad

The total amount we have spent abroad has been slowly rising year-on-year until a slight dip after the financial crash in 2008. However, spending has recovered since then and has now reached a new peak of over £62.3 billion in 2019, up £4.2 billion from 2018.

The biggest spend was made in Europe, were Brits spent £38.7 billion while on holiday in 2019. In North America, Brits enjoyed the culture and food while spending £6.6 billion. The country who got the most pounds in their cash registers was, of course, Spain, where Brits spent £10.9 billion.

Year Spending abroad by UK residents
2019 £62,325,000,000
2018 £58,128,000
2017 £54,426,000
2016 £50,864,000
2015 £46,480,000
2014 £43,065,000
2013 £41,369,000
2012 £38,475,000
2011 £37,917,000
2010 £37,128,000
2009 £34,455,000
2008 £36,838,000
2007 £35,013,000
2006 £34,411,000
2005 £32,154,000
2004 £30,285,000
2003 £28,550,000
2002 £26,962,000
2001 £25,332,000
2000 £24,251,000
1999 £22,020,000

Spend per trip

Budgeting for your trip is an essential part of your holiday planning, but which countries are costing us the most per trip and per day?

When making a budget for your next holiday, take a look at approximately what it costs to stay per day and per country. France is ranked the most expensive, as you’d spend around £166 per day for food, hotel and activities. A close second is Switzerland, where you’d fork out the same amount for travelling around per day.

If you want a lot of history for a budget-friendly price, Estonia and Romania might be the travel destinations for you. They would cost you £59 and £58 respectively per day and you won’t have to skimp out on the fun.

Rank Country Cost per day
1 France £165.79
2 Switzerland £165.73
3 United Kingdom £159.25
4 Monaco £153.30
5 Liechtenstein £152.84
6 Malta £152.14
7 Denmark £146.70
8 Luxembourg £133.93
9 Iceland £124.04
10 Andorra £119.67
11 Italy £112.97
12 Netherlands £111.62
13 Finland £109.86
14 Spain £107.80
15 Sweden £102.95
16 Greece £100.52
17 Ireland £99.62
18 Germany £96.94
19 Belgium £96.67
20 Austria £96.41
21 Portugal £90.70
22 Norway £86.84
23 Cyprus £74.61
24 Slovenia £68.32
25 Czech Republic £67.46
26 Croatia £63.77
27 Slovakia £62.32
28 Lithuania £60.72
29 Estonia £58.81
30 Romania £58.00

What are we spending on?

Eurostat averaged spending across the 27 member EU states (plus the UK) to reveal what we are spending on while abroad.

Unsurprisingly, over two-thirds of our holiday spending is on accommodation (37%) and transport (31%), leaving us just 32% for all other holiday-related expenses.

Spending Proportion
Accomodation 37%
Travel 31%
Other 32%

Preferences while travelling abroad

While not everyone feels like they need to have a reason to explore, 65% of Brits who travel say they do it for relaxation and to recover. The second most popular choice regarding preferences while on vacation was arranging their own travels, as 62% found this the most important.

22% of Brits plays it safe by usually revisiting the same cities or regions they’ve travelled to before and 16% like to play it by ear and buy last-minute tickets. Just 9% of all travelling Brits want to be active during their holiday.

Reason for travelling Answer in %
I travel to relax and recover 65%
I prefer arranging my holidays to my own tastes 62%
By travelling, I want to gain new experiences 60%
I travel to get to know foreign countries and meet new people 38%
I prefer booking a package holiday 29%
I like travelling off the beaten track 27%
When on holiday, I usually visit the same place/the same region 22%
I usually book holidays at the last minute 16%
I travel in an environmentally friendly manner 15%
I want to have sporting challenges during my holiday 9%

Leftover money

Chances are you have experienced the dilemma of what to do with leftover currency at the end of your holiday. Recent research suggests Brits could be better off to the tune of almost £1 billion by converting their unwanted currency back to pounds.

  • UK holidaymakers say they need to have at least £52 worth of leftover currency to go through the effort of changing it back to pounds.
  • On average UK adults spent £14.27 at airports, per trip, just to save them from bringing it home.
  • This equates to nearly £1 billion spent at airports every year just to get rid of foreign currency.

£52

Brits say they need £52 to go through the effort of changing foreign currency back to pounds.

Sources used

  • ONS
  • Eurostat
  • Money Advice Service
  • Budgetyourtrip.com
  • Getlinkgroup
  • Statista Travel & Tourism Study 2019
  • GOV.UK

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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