The Family Holiday Report

Family splashing around on holiday

9 February 2024

By air, land and sea, the family holiday has long been a popular summer staple, winter break or half-term getaway. But at a time of squeezed household budgets, have our family holiday habits changed? And do we still value multi-generational getaways?

Here’s what our survey of more than 2,000 UK adults uncovered:

  • Almost half (46%) think it’s important to go on a multigenerational family trip (including both immediate and extended family members)
  • 54% of families who travel are planning to take a family holiday this year
  • Families have budgeted an average of £2,005 for their 2024 holidays. Last year, they spent £1,944 on average.
  • Beach holidays are the most popular type of family vacation – 42% named it as their number one holiday type.
  • Spain is the most popular family holiday destination, chosen by 37% of respondents as their first pick.
  • The cost of a trip was the biggest barrier – 42% said this was the number one factor behind a family holiday booking decision.

We’re all going on a…family holiday?

Family holidays are nothing new. Centuries of intrepid explorers, from ancient Romans to Tudor monarchs, visited far-flung destinations with their nearest and dearest. But in Britain, the family holiday as we know it took off in the mid-20th century with the arrival of paid annual leave, holiday parks, and later, the affordable air travel boom.

But in these belt-tightening times, and with changing work and lifestyle habits following the Covid-19 pandemic, are family holidays still a thing? Among respondents with families – and excluding people who don’t travel at all – here’s what they told us.

Illustration displaying percentage of people planning a family holiday

While family holidays are largely popular, we found regional variations. In Greater London, 64% of people who travel with their families are firmly in the yes camp when it comes to planning a family holiday this year. But on the other hand, just 45% of Welsh families think they’ll unpack the bucket ‘n’ spades in 2024. 

So while family holidays are by no means a thing of the past, what’s stopping some parents from jetting off for some sun, sea and sand?

Paradise comes at a price

In recent times, millions of households have seen their budgets stretched by rising inflation and living costs. And according to our survey, money is at the front of people’s minds before they embrace the travel bug.

Illustration displaying factors people consider when planning a family trip

Of those who’ve been affected by the cost of living crisis, the most frequently cited impact was their ‘increased focus on cost saving measures’ – mentioned by 32% in total.

So while many families are still heading to a favourite destination, they might not be splashing out when they get there. In fact, food and drink expenses came out as the top reason (68%) for why families say they exceeded previous holiday budgets. Other expensive mishaps included unexpected changes, last minute plans and trip extensions.

Here is a glimpse of how families are balancing their holiday budgets.

  • The average amount spent by families on holidays last year was £1,944.
  • This year, families have budgeted an average of £2,005 for their holidays.
  • Almost half (47%) said they’ve exceeded their budget while on a family holiday, rising to 56% among people in the north-east of England, and 57% among people aged over 55.

More than just money

While holiday costs are a barrier, our survey showed that other factors are deterring families from embarking on a well-earned break.

30% of respondents said they feel ‘stressed’ by the prospect of a family holiday, and this climbed to 36% of parents and 47% of guardians of children aged under 18. And some people admit they’re not even taking their full holiday entitlements. 58% of those in employment said they’d maxed all their annual leave in the past year – this was highest in Brighton and Plymouth (67%) and lowest in Liverpool (45%).

And have our holiday habits fundamentally changed? The early 2020s saw a staycation boom, and according to YouGov, more than a quarter (26%) of Brits say that travel has become more important to them since the pandemic. Meanwhile, 46% of 18–34-year-olds say they’re now seeking out more meaningful travel experiences.

Judging by our survey, it seems that many holidaymakers would rather go solo, buddy up with friends, or enjoy a couple’s break. In this, over half (56%) opted for traveling with a partner, 23% said they typically travel with friends, and 22% prefer solo travel. 

Are family adventures still fun?

Travel may have changed dramatically in recent times, but it seems that most families are still happy to ‘proceed to checkout’ and book a holiday.

Almost half (46%) of those we surveyed – and 49% of those who travel – think it’s important to go on family trips that include both immediate and extended family members. Birmingham was the city with the biggest enthusiasm (56%) for extended family holidays.

And while planning a family holiday takes money, people are also thinking about the memories.

Illustration showing what motivates people to book a family holiday

We found that memories were the motivator for 44% of women – compared to 32% of men – while 18-24-year-olds were the only age category who preferred another option (‘explore new destinations’) at 36%. The most likely age group to say ‘strengthen family bonds’ were 25–34-year-olds (34%) and the least likely was 55+ year olds (18%).

Where are families heading to?

Finally, we wanted to explore whether our desired family destinations have changed. If we consider cost pressures, lifestyle changes and modern family preferences, where are the most popular places for families to visit? According to our survey – life’s a beach. 

Illustration showing favourite types of family holiday

In these fast-changing times, are families holidaying in far-flung destinations, or keeping things continental? According to our survey, the classic European family holiday favourites haven’t lost their appeal.

Illustration showing top travel destinations for family holidays

Sunny Spain was the most popular choice for holidaymakers from Northern Ireland, where 50% ranked it as their first choice. Meanwhile, Italy came out on top among people from the East of England (37%) and Wales (34%).

Interestingly, Spain was ranked first by parents and guardians of children of all ages, but for adults without children, Italy was level pegging with Spain on 34% as their preferred destination.

The world is your oyster

Some things never change, and the family holiday is an enduring tradition that shows no sign of slowing down. Before you pack your shades, it’s always a good idea to budget wisely and ensure you have financial protection in place. And you’ll need to be a UK resident for at least 183 days per tax year if you wish to get Legal & General Life Insurance, so don’t spend too long on the beach. Bon voyage!